Dr. Okoh Agharighom, Senior Registrar, Urology, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu is quite a happy man. This is as a result of the successful resolution of a dispute involving him and his insurer by the Complaints Bureau of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM).
In a letter of appreciation to the Commission, Dr. Agharighom wrote: “My faith and confidence as well as those of my colleagues at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku Ozalla, Enugu in the insurance industry and in your efficient regulatory oversight has not only been restored but elevated to a new plateau”.
Adewale Mutalib also had his dispute resolved by the Bureau and he wrote thus: “…I’m now totally convinced that NAICOM is up to the task under the able leadership of Mr. Fola Daniel and his team”.
Chief P. O. Irene, managing director, Resourceful Marine and Industrial Services is equally happy with the way the Bureau handled his complaints. In his letter of appreciation to the Commission he stated as follows: “We wish to congratulate your organization and thank you sincerely for the prompt attention taken by your Complaint Bureau in respect of our case… we would like to say that without your intervention the issue would not have been settled… again we congratulate the Bureau for living up to expectation”.
Yet another happy member of the insuring public with activities of the Bureau is Ambassador M. O. Kuforiji. “I am delighted to inform you that the insurer has now settled my claim in full. I wish to express my profound gratitude to you for the efficient and effective manner you resolved the matter. All is well that ends well”, he wrote.
These are coming on the heels of recent activities of the Commission through the Bureau in resolving disputes involving policy holders and insurance companies.
For the first quarter of 2012, the Bureau resolved a total of 17 disputes involving policy holders and insurance companies resulting in claims settlement of N617.8 million. In all of 2011, the Bureau resolved a total of 107 disputes out of 347 that were brought before it. A total of N519.08 million claims were settled. At this rate, the Bureau may well handle over N1 billion claims settlements by the end of 2012.
One interesting thing about the dispute resolution mechanism of the Commission is that the number of complaints has been coming down over the years. This is an indication that the zero-tolerance stance of the Commission on non-settlement of claim by insurance companies has started to yield positive result. Companies are now responding well by paying claims promptly.
Causes of disputes in most cases include matters relating to the discharge of obligations by insurance companies and intermediaries. It also involved non-issuance of document after receipt of premium; delay in settlement of claims; partial or total repudiation of claims; premium paid or payable; and legal construction of the policy wordings.
The Complaints Bureau deals largely with policy holders, beneficiaries of insurance contract, and third parties to an insurance contract. Others include insurance companies, insurance brokers, insurance agents, re-insurance companies, and government agencies such as the EFCC, Public Complaints Commission, ICPC, Ministry of Finance, among others.