Insurance Market consists of the buyers of insurance and the sellers together with the intermediaries (agents) who bring the two together. In addition there are also the regulators, representative bodies or organizations, consultants and technical advisers which are part and parcel of the market.
Anyone who has valid insurable interest i.e., legally recognized relationship with property or pecuniary interest, can insurer their interest. The relationship may arise through ownership, part-ownership or responsibility for goods, or liability to pay damages or certain benefits.
In Nigeria the buyers of insurance can be segmented as follows:
- Individuals and families
- Governments (federal, state, local) and their agencies
- Manufacturing industrial concerns
- Small and medium scale industries
- Banking industry
- Health institutions
- Tourist and hospitality industries, hotels
- Transport industry
- Other corporate bodies
- Educational institutions
- Oil and energy industry
For marketing purposes the buyers can further be segmented to suit the strategy of the insurer, or the insurance agent.
The sellers or suppliers of insurance are the insurance companies and the reinsurance companies. At present there are about 118 registered insurance companies and 5 registered reinsurance companies. Most of the insurance companies are incorporated pursuant to Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990. About 106 of them are private limited liability companies while the rest are public companies. About sixty companies underwrite life assurance business with five operating as specialist life offices. The reinsurers provide technical security and capacity for the insurance companies and do not supply insurance directly to the consumers.
The Intermediaries (Agents)
The intermediaries are mainly insurance brokers and insurance agents. There are 350 registered insurance brokers and about 15,000 insurance agents. The different types of agents have been described earlier in chapter eleven. Nigerian insurance market has been described as brokers market because presently brokers control over 90 per cent of the premium income, leaving less than 10 per cent for insurance agents, and even direct marketing channel by insurers. However, insurance agents dominate the individual life insurance market.
The banking industry has become a formidable channel for distributing insurance services not necessarily as intermediaries, but by facilitating a form of direct marketing by insurers. Participation by banks has also thus made mass merchandizing of those insurance products possible. To enrich some of the financial products banks offer certain insurance protection as additional benefits. For example an investor is promised three or four times the capital amount invested in case of death, payment of benefits in the event of accident, payment of children’s school fees, and insurance cover for goods bought on credit. To meet such obligations, they apply part of the interest due to the investors to purchase insurance on their behalf from insurance companies. This is however different from universal banking which implied direct involvement in insurance broking and underwriting.