The Nigeria Insurers Association has introduced an Unstructured Supplementary Service Data that motorists can use to verify the authenticity of their vehicle insurance certificates. During the official introduction of the USSD code in Lagos, the Chairman, NIA, Mr Tope Smart, said the industry had registered over three million vehicles on its Nigerian Insurance Industry Database.
Smart said, “The USSD is a Global System for mobile communication technology used to send text between a mobile phone and an application programme in the network. It works independent of Internet connectivity. In this instance, any mobile phone (not necessarily a smartphone) would communicate with the NIID system to retrieve policy status whenever required.”
While explaining further, he said a motorist could send sms on any network using the code “*565*11#”. He said motorist could verify their motor insurance for a fee of N20 using “*565*11#” on any network without having Internet network on the phone. Smart said that the USSD represented another giant step towards bringing insurance closer to the people and ultimately eliminating fake insurance certificates in the market.
He recalled that in 2010, the association took a major step towards eliminating fake insurance certificates in the market through the introduction of the NIID. The database, he added, went live in 2011 and insurance policies obtained by motorists could be checked online on the Internet and through dedicated hand-held devices.
He said the objective of the NIID is intended to serve as an authentic database of the Nigerian Insurance Industry Data, provide qualitative statistics/analysis of the industry data; as a vehicle for easy verification of genuine insurance certificates by all stakeholders; and to reduce incidences of fraudulent insurance transactions especially for motor and marine policies.
The chairman of the association said the industry had continued to reap the benefits of the scheme. Prior to the establishment of the platform, he said cloning and faking of insurance certificates were a thriving business but the establishment of the database had assisted the industry in reducing the incident of fake insurance certificates in the market.
He said, “The platform has been enhanced to include stolen vehicles and claims reporting modules in response to the challenges thrown up by actions of suspected fraudsters that made multiple claims with the intent to defraud the industry over the last few years.”
Smart noted that the NIID platform has been operational nationwide, but with challenges in verification in areas with poor Internet coverage. “Verification of motor certificates through the dedicated devices became highly impaired due to the vicissitudes of Internet operations in the hinterlands,” he added. He said this led to the introduction of the USSD technology.
He said, “It is hoped that with the USSD, we would have fully overcome the problems associated with the dedicated devices as it guarantees uninterrupted service throughout the country and on all networks. Our existing and prospective customers now have the opportunity to confirm the genuineness of their respective policies at the time of purchase to avoid any embarrassment should claims occur.” According to him, the partners in the project are Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc, and Courteville Business Solutions Plc.