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IGI PLC: My sad experience in a sinking ship by Israel Ojoko

I have never been a fan of insurance companies as I believe they are not truthful and do not keep to the agreement. Except in occasions where I don’t have a choice, like car insurance, I see the shallow services of insurance companies in Nigeria as a waste of time.

Sometimes in 2014, one of the marketers of Industrial and General Insurance (IGI) tried to sell a product to me.

Joy kept on pressing and pressing, trying to convince me to change my mindset about insurance companies. She went as far as mentioning the names of some of my colleagues in the office who have signed up for one plan or the other. She particularly encouraged me to do the five-year life insurance plan, that it will help me get a tax rebate, help me save some money for the future, and all the sweet stuff.

At the end of the day, I signed up for a five-year life insurance plan in 2015. Joy always keep in touch, did her marketing job well, and ensured I pay on or before the last day of the month. In fact, sometimes, I even pay two months upfront.

Fast forward to June 2020, I successfully completed my five-year life insurance plan, and I was looking forward to collecting my bulk sum which I have made plans for. I was counting down, picked up a pen and paper, and wrote down what I wanted to achieve with the money. As a matter of fact, I have made moves by going to make inquiries, collecting contacts with the promise that by July or August I will swing into action when my money is paid. Little did I know that the end of my five-year meticulous savings is just the beginning of disappointment, breach of contract, heartbreak, and loss of trust.

As of June 2020, Joy had already left IGI for another insurance company and introduced me to the new marketer that will be in charge of my account. I called her and informed her about the maturity of my plan, and how the new guy is not responsive or easily accessible. She then told me how to go about getting my money, like ‘go to their office at Agoro Odiyan Street, off Adeola Odeku, Victoria Island, submit some document, you will be asked to come back when your total sum is confirmed and you will be given a letter and form to fill’.

I went through all these processes between July and September 2020, but up until the date of this publication, I have not been paid. I visited that V.I office many times, but they always give me excuses ranging from Coronavirus to court cases and all that.

One of the days I went to their office, precisely in June 2021, I met the shock of my life. It was a rainy day, and i got there before 9 am but met about five women sitting at the reception. What really shocked me was what these women did and said on that day. When any IGI staff pass through the reception, these women will scream on top of their voices ‘IGI ole (thief), ole, woooooooooo’. They were booing the staff, and expressing their regret of insuring their money with them.

Just like me, they have been given several excuses over the years, but the most disappointing part is that some of these women were owed a paltry N200k. I was bewildered, IGI cannot pay back ordinary two hundred thousand naira of three years savings? We demanded to see top management because we could not continue hearing the same old story from the usual guys that come to us. They denied us, and the women vowed not to leave that office until top management come to address us.

I tried to hear from the women what has been their experience. One of them said “For two years I have been coming here, all I hear is story and story, I am no more interested in their excuses. I want my money, and I want it now.”

Another claimant said “Last year, my brother was sick and was to go for appendicitis surgery, I came here for them to give me my money but they insisted I can’t break halfway, I had to borrow money and spent over 2 million for the surgery. Now that I can access my money, they are refusing to pay me since December 2020, giving me excuses”

Another woman, almost shedding tears, said “I went through a lot to save this money with IGI. I was hawking pure water on the streets and saving N5,000 monthly. It was not easy at all, but I had to because I was saving for my children and any future challenges.”

While we were abandoned there waiting endlessly, a senior military officer walked in with his orderly and demanded to see their boss, in less than 15 minutes, two people came downstairs, called the officer inside, and spoke with him, then he angrily left. After that, they called the women, pleaded with them, gave them a date for payment and they reluctantly left one after the other. I already knew what I was going in to hear, but I wanted to hear it anyway since it is from a superior, a respected fellow who could tell me the truth, give me a payment date, and keep to it.

I met Mr. Steve Ilo who said he is their head of public relations, I introduced myself as a journalist, he told me he was once an editor, and we had a somewhat promising conversation as regards what I came for. We exchanged numbers and I left. Of all the times I have called him, he has only managed to pick my calls twice.

I reported the issue to the Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency (LASCOPA). Before me, they’ve already had files of cases, all from clients of IGI, same story, same experience. LASCOPA summoned IGI and the date for the meeting was scheduled. IGI sent their lawyer who admitted that the company is owing, but is going through some challenges, but promised the company will pay. We went through this process for more than a year, but nothing has changed. My hard-earned savings is still trapped in the coffers of IGI even after many meetings with IGI and LASCOPA.

From what I learned, since the death of the founder and CEO Remi Olowude in 2014, the company has nose-dived and literally crashed due to mismanagement. Unfortunately, regulatory agencies both of the federal government have watched helplessly how innocent and unsuspecting Nigerians suffer as their hard-earned money continues to remain trapped in IGI’s custody.

IGI has lost its glory. That once big and respected insurance company has gone with the winds. Poor management and corruption have wrecked havoc on the integrity of the once vibrant brand. They are now a shadow of themselves.

IGI has continued to give endless excuses like trying to sell off some of their assets and all, but the bitter reality is that clients are not getting their money after many years of maturity. They keep making promises upon promises, giving new dates, all to no avail. Yet, their marketers still go out to lure unsuspecting new clients.

Who will save these innocent widows, mothers, fathers, old and young clients who have put their life savings into IGI with the hope of using the money for a vital project but are now left to suffer? Some may have even lost their lives in the process of trying to redeem their money, and their next of kin may not be able to recover their fortune anymore.

Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and other regulatory bodies in Nigeria are now aware of the atrocities being freely committed by IGI. Immediate action must be taken to ensure everyone is paid their money.

I shouldn’t be bothered with whatever the company is going through. I didn’t give them excuses while remitting money for five years. I want my money, I saved my money in the care of IGI, I do not deserve to go through torture before getting back the money.

IGI pay me my money now.

Israel is a Nigerian journalist and can be reached via israelojoko14@gmail.com

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