The purported partnership between The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), to rid the marine sector of fake insurance policies which had caused significant revenue leakages to the economy has been greeted with the usual poker faced complacence that maritime industry watchers have adopted over the years to constant changing trends and policies within the industry.
The Commissioner for Insurance (CFI), Mr. Mohammed Kari once lamented that one of the major problems in the industry is that the insurances that are taken to cover imports into Nigeria are supposed to be by the Nigerian insurance operators but unfortunately, Customs does not have the facility to identify which is fake and which is not.
So, if this be the case how has Customs been handling insurance documentation? Reports has it that what they said they’ve always done is that where there’s no insurance or where they can’t confirm whether it’s fake or otherwise, they just add the value of the insurance to calculate the CIF but they don’t pursue the insurance certificates verification which are rife at the seaports where goods are cleared.
This partnership between the Customs Service and NAICOM can best be described as the union of strange bed fellows as Customs had at different fora lamented that some of the Customs officers who died in the line of duty were yet to receive their benefits from their insurers. Noting that the regulator needs to effect improvement in claims settlement and publicise genuine and licensed insurance operators to save the public from falling victims of fake policy issuers.
Meanwhile, It further emerged that following the expiration of the September 30 deadline by NAICOM for insurance operators to pay all claims in their books, the sum of over N40 billion may have been settled as claims from July when the directive took effect to September.
Also, the CFI disclosed that efforts were being made to simplify the level of English language use in drawing policy documents by insurance operators to ensure that policy holders understand every letter of a policy before signing up. This, according to him is to help consumers who are often confused with insurance jargons which sometimes, can be misleading.
In the new order, on the Customs portal and at a click of a button, Customs can confirm the authenticity of certificates, if they be genuine or not. The proposed deal will allow the insurance industry utilise the customs IT portal to seamlessly verify genuine and counterfeit.
Like many other automated process employed to facilitate trade, ease the process of doing business in the ports and remove corruption from the system, this is yet another initiative and we hope that it works.