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Group Life: FG moves to blacklist insolvent underwriters –Investigation

Many insurers benefit from FG’s yearly N15bn premium
Broker in hide and seek with deceased’s daughter

Following their inability to redeem their primary obligation of claims payments, the Federal Government is finalising plans to blacklist insurance companies under the Group Life Insurance Policy. Many of the underwriters, who have been benefitting from the Federal Government’s yearly N15 billion premium, have failed to pay claims to the listed beneficiaries or next of kin of deceased civil servants. Investigations by New Telegraph revealed that although some of them are still active in the industry, prospecting for businesses and participating in all market activities, a scrutiny of their balance sheets revealed overwhelming liabilities with several outstanding claims running into several millions of naira.

Speaking with New Telegraph on the current step to flush them out of the Federal Government’s Group Life account, a highly placed source with knowledge of the development, said that the Office of the Head of Service had constituted a technical committee to exclude insolvent underwriters.

The source said: “The office of Head of Service has a technical team that is working on that. They are trying to be sure that underwriters who have issues do not get on, but you know as long as anybody carries the licence of NAICOM, he is still a valid underwriter.” He said the HoS was working between the lines along with NAICOM to ensure only underwriters without blemish on their claims record receive premiums from the government. Speaking on the premium payments, which is put at N15 billion yearly, he said: “The letters will soon be out. The bid is being considered.

They are seeking FEC (Federal Executive Council) approval. The current one is still valid.” Specifically, further investigations revealed that children of a senior official of the Federal Ministry of Health, the late Mrs. Bilhatu Idi Jamai, who died in 2014, have been going through difficulties to get their mother’s claims paid. Speaking with our correspondent, the woman’s daughter, Mrs. Sarah Jarmai Saratu Idriss, said the insurance broker commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Health to pursue the claims had been playing hide-and-seek in the last six or seven years. According to her: “The Federal Ministry of Health, in 2015, gave the broker, Utib, the notification to start processing the death benefits.

That was when we started communicating. We went to their office here in Abuja and met a lady, one Mrs. Obike, who gave us her number. She said she was their regional manager, but that she was always in Lagos. “But as of 2017, that was when she said they were done processing and that they were sending it to the insurance company. She said something like the underwriter raising a voucher that they would bring to her office for them to sign and take it back to them to process the money for payment.

“From the end of 2017, I would call her and, at some point, she stopped answering my calls. At first, we didn’t really know much about insurance and how it works, but later I got a job with Lasaco Assurance and it was even then that I knew how it worked. It was even my boss then that called them to know what was happening to my mum’s claims. “From the call, which was 2018 December/2019, that was when she started picking my calls again, after my boss called and even threatened that he was go ing to take the matter to the National Assembly.

“This time around, she said something happened, and that we should just resend all the documents again. This is after she told us she had finished working on the documents and sent them to the insurance company. So how come she was asking us to send the documents again? That was how we resent the documents. Up until 2020, the whole year was COVID-19. With that, she had an excuse, up until this 2021 now, she is still like she has everything, and she has taken everything to the insurer. She keeps mentioning one Kenny. That she had submitted the documents to him and that he is going to work on it.

“Now she is mentioning another thing again, which is another excuse, that insurance claims’ cases that were not reported from 2001 would not be responded to. I told her that we reported our own. So the issue is not with us because we reported since 2015 officially and we kept getting excuses from her and she told me she had worked on it and sent it to the insurer, then she started saying even the company was in debt. “So as of the last time we spoke, she said she was going to speak with Kenny. After that, we have not spoken again.

If I called her, she would say her battery is two per cent, that she is in a busy place, she is in a bus and things like that.” However, when contacted, an official of the insurance firm said she searched through but could not find any document pertaining to the said policyholder. Further investigation, however, revealed that the broker only sent the notification letter to the insurer in October last year; a complete deviation from her earlier position that she had finaslised processing the documents as far back as 2018.

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