3 scores: Universal Insurance’s journey from Enugu to Lagos changed for good

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Universal Insurance Plc journey in the three scores of its existence recalled the relocation of the head office from Enugu to Lagos change the company for good.

The Chairman, Engr. Cyril Umunna Ajagu, while narrating his experience with the company in Lagos stated, “I remember when I first came to invest in Universal Insurance sometime in 2003. It can only be described as a divine arrangement. The Company was going through turbulent times. Workers had not been paid for a very long time and were therefore very disillusioned.

“I came on board and to the glory of Almighty God, we forged ahead. The first decision we took was to reposition the Company from being a regional player to a national player. And this we achieved by relocating the head office from Enugu to Lagos and thus began our progressive journey through thick and thin.

“We grew stronger and during the recapitalization exercise organized by the National Insurance Commission, NAICOM in 2007, we not only recapitalized but we successfully acquired three other insurance companies – African Safety Insurance Company; Oriental Insurance Company and United Trust Assurance Company Limited.
On 14th December, 2007, we became a Public Liability Company and two months later, on the 11th February, 2008, we became listed on the Floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Universal Insurance has since blossomed and we keep moving from strength to strength.

These, he said was only made possible by God. He thanked all those who have in one way or the other contributed and are still contributing to the success story.

Speaking further the managing director/ CEO Ben Ujoatuonu noted that in the past 60 years the company has continued to strengthen and sustain the legacy of the founding fathers.

Accordingly him “for the past 60 years we have been consistently in keeping to our words through creating value and meeting claims of our teeming customers. I assure you that we will Continue and not rest in our plans in satisfying our numerous customers.”

With an asset base of over N11billion and shareholders fund of over N8billion, universal insurance said they are ever ready to satisfy the needs of their customers.

He noted that at 60 the company human capital is a mixture of the experience of the old and vigor of the young to drive the company.

Presently, we have developed a very vibrant agency retail unit with very active agency network across the nation.

He stated that the investment in retail businesses is aimed at deepening insurance penetration in the country and ensure they grow their revenue.

“We have also developed and gotten approval from National Insurance Commission for eight retail products that we are rolling out to the market. Some new ones are also with NAICOM for approval and some new ones are being develop.

“With some of these product, we will begin to partner with our friends, brokers and agents to see how we can work with your network to drive these products to our mutual clients.

“We have also applied for approval for Micro insurance license from the commission which we believe will help us deepen insurance penetration and our revenue. We are indeed very hopeful that we will get the approval and that will also help us to expand in the vision we are driving in that regard.”

On its financials, he said: ” We have consistently grown our revenue in the past five years. In 2020 despite the pandemic and #Endsars protest we grew our revenue by over 80 percent and profit level grew by over 1600 percent

On recapitalization, the universal boss said “Our shareholders and brokers have nothing to fear because we will meet the mark and the universal insurance brand will stand after recapitasation. Presently, we have a paid up capital of over N8billion and by the regulator’s template for capital we have over 80 percent as at now.”

He however stress that serious work is ongoing to ensure that any time the issue of recapitalization comes up we will meet the mark of N10billion.

Speaking on the company’s performance, Sir, Sunny Nwosu, a shareholders’ rights’ activist, lauded the board and management of the company for their ability to sustain and grow the company despite the downturn in the economy.

He urged the company to strategise towards growing the business and improving dividend payment for shareholders.

According to him shareholders will be more happier if dividends are paid regularly.

Moving forward, he said they will be looking at the balance sheet of the company to see how they can advise them to hasten up dividend payment for shareholders.

Also, Mattew Akinlade, President Noble shareholders Solidarity Association (NSSA), applauded the company’s strong presences in the industry in the last 60 years.

According to him, some companies established the same time with universal insurance have all gone under but Universal insurance has proven that it have what it takes to move the industry forward.

Also, Alfred Daudu, CEO, FSL Insurance Brokers Limited noted that the prompt claims payment by Universal insurance has made it the company of choice for most brokers.
According to him, Universal insurance ranks among the company high in claims payment, adding that they paid over N30million as claims to its clients in 2020 despite the negative impact of covid-19.

He assured that they will continue to support universal insurance to deepen insurance penetration in Nigeria.

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