On 1st February, 2022, the National Insurance Commission ("NAICOM"), issued the Insurance Web Aggregators Operational Guidelines ("Guidelines"), 2022.
The Guidelines set out the regulatory framework for the deployment and operation of web aggregator platforms within the Nigerian insurance sector and shall be read in conjunction with other relevant legislation, guidelines and circulars as approved by the Commission.
This article highlights the meaning of a Web aggregator; the eligibility criteria for a web aggregator; the registration and approval procedure required as a web aggregator; fees and commission payable; validity and renewal of licence; among others.
A. WHO IS A WEB AGGREGATOR?
The Guidelines define a Web Aggregator as a company that maintains/owns a website and avails information about insurance products of different insurers.
The company must be registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and approved by the Commission.
B. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR GRANT OF LICENCE AS WEB AGGREGATOR
A company that intends to carry on business as Web Aggregators must:
- be registered with the CAC;
- have the business of Web Aggregation as its main objective in its Memorandum of Association;
- not be engaged in any other business other than the main objects of the Memorandum of Association;
- have a minimum share capital of N5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira) only registered with CAC.
C. REGISTRATION AND APPROVAL PROCEDURE
The registration of a Web Aggregator shall be in 3(Three) stages:
Stage 1: The entity applying for a Web Aggregator's License ("Applicant") is required to submit:
- a No Objection/ approval letter from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC);
- a letter of appointment issued by the insurer/ brokers appointing the Applicant as a Web Aggregator for its products;
- a copy of the SLAs executed between the insurers/ brokers and the Applicant; and,
- An evidence of payment of a non-refundable fee of N500,000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) only to NAICOM amongst other documents.
Stage 2: Upon submission of the documents listed in stage 1 and at the indication of NAICOM, the applicant will be required to submit further documents including:
- the CVs and credentials of the principal officers and directors of the applicant;
- Evidence of procurement of a professional indemnity cover of not less than N20 Million; and,
- other required documents.
Stage 3: This stage involves a physical verification by NAICOM officials of the applicant's head office and IT infrastructure. The applicant will also be required to pay a license fee of N2,500,000.00(Two Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira) only. Where the application is accepted by NAICOM, the license will be issued to the Applicant.
D. CAPITAL, FEES, COMMISSION, PREMIUM ETC
The applicant shall have a minimum share capital of not less than N5,000,000.00(Five Million Naira) as at the date of application and shall continue to maintain the same throughout the license period.
The Web Aggregator shall submit to the Commission a financial position duly certified by an external auditor every year after the finalisation of books of accounts.
The levy payable by a Web Aggregator shall be 1% of the gross commission income or a minimum of N200,000.00 (Two Hundred Thousand Naira) only, whichever is higher.
The commission to be paid by the insurer partner to Web Aggregator shall not exceed 30% of Brokers Commission as stated in Section 53 of the Insurance Act, 2003.
E. VALIDITY OF LICENSE/RENEWAL
A licence once issued shall be valid for two calendar years unless the same is suspended or cancelled by the guideline.
A renewal application and documentation shall be submitted at least 45 days before the date of expiration of the license.
The Commission may grant the Applicant a 30 (Thirty) days grace from the date of expiry for the renewal of the licence. Any business transacted after the grace period shall attract a minimum penalty of N1,000,000.00 (One Million Naira) or 10 times the commission received on such transaction(s), whichever is higher.
Licence issued to a Web Aggregator that is not submitted for renewal after expiration of the 30 (Thirty) days grace, is deemed as lapsed and re-registration may be considered after 3 (three) years of cool-off period.
F. REMEDIAL MEASURES AND SANCTIONS
The Commission may deal with non-compliance by issuing orders it considers necessary to protect policy holders. Also, the Commission may appoint one or more of its officers or Information Technology (IT) experts as inspecting authority to inspect the books of account, records, and documents of the Web Aggregator for compliance purposes.
The Commission may cancel the licence granted to a Web Aggregator or impose any of the available administrative sanctions appropriate under the Act in event of failure to exercise due diligence or comply with its obligations in the Guidelines or such other directives issued by the Commission.
The Commission may notwithstanding and without prejudice to the initiation of criminal proceedings against any person, impose on a web aggregator without a valid licence such penal action under the Act.
G. EFFECTIVE DATE
The Guideline shall be effective from 1st February, 2022. Insurance Companies and Web Aggregators operating under any agreement before the Guidelines shall comply with the provisions of this Guideline within 60 (Sixty) days of its coming into effect.
The introduction of the guideline is timely, and the hitherto largely unregulated business of insurance web aggregators has now become fully regulated by the Guidelines.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.