Nigeria, a country of more than 140 million people with a landmass of about 923,768.64sq. km and immense human and material resources is a former British colony. Hence, the country shares almost all its political and economic settings from its former colonial heritage. Before the introduction of the modern form of insurance, some form of social insurance had existed in the Nigerian society. These social schemes evolved through the existence of extended family system and social associations such as age grades and other unions. Until 1966, Nigeria copied British parliamentary system of government. This British system still dominates aspects of the country’s socio-economic settings. For instance, the legal practices in Nigeria still reflect its colonial heritage. Economic institutions such banks and insurance companies, in practice, copy the British style of conducting their businesses.
The origins of modern insurance are intertwined with the advent of British trading companies in the region and the subsequent increased inter-regional trade. Increased trade and commerce led to increased activities in shipping and banking, and it soon became necessary for some of the foreign firms to handle some of their risks locally. Trading companies were therefore subsequently granted insurance agency licenses by foreign insurance companies.
Such licenses made it possible for the firms to issue covers and assist in claims-supervision. There was an initial slow pace of the growth of the insurance industry in the country, particularly between 1921 and 1949. This is traceable to adverse effect of the World War II on trading activities both in United Kingdom and Nigeria. As soon as the war ended, business activities gradually picked up again, and insurance industry in Nigeria began to record remarkable improvement in growth with the establishment of the first indigenous insurance company 1958. At independence, only four of the then 25 firms in existence were indigenous. By 1970s, the number of indigenous companies had far surpassed that of the foreign companies with Leadway Assurance Company Limited, leading the pack of the then burgeoning industry.
With the Nigerian economy opening up to limitless opportunities following the end of the Nigerian-Biafra war, Leadway navigated into the economy in 1970 with a robust but chequered history of being a forward-looking firm with focal emphasis on relationships, having started operations as a direct motor insurance company. Within a period of time, the relationship developed to an integral stage what with the establishment of a deepened relationship with the brokers’ network in Nigeria, thereby enjoying 80% of its current business from this source.
From the late 90s to the advent of the 21st century, the Insurance market in Nigeria went through major significant changes which necessitated the introduction of extant regulations aimed at reforming and refining the industry to its purest, undiluted form of societal relevance. Regulations such as the Companies and Allied Matters Decree of 1990, Banks and other Financial Institutions Act, Banks and other Financial Institutions Act, Motor Vehicle (Third Party) Insurance Act, National Insurance Commission Decree of 1997, and the Insurance Act 2003 came into full force with an orchestration of changes and rapid developments in the business of and practice of Insurance in Nigeria.
In line with the need to meet the challenges of the new regulatory frameworks which insisted on compulsory registration of all insurance companies with National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), N2 billion minimum capital requirement for Life Business operators, N3 billion minimum capital requirement for General Insurance business, N10 billion minimum capital requirement for Reinsurance business, statutory deposit of 10% of each capital requirement with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and a compulsory level of local underwriting of risks emanating from oil and energy operations across the country in order to enhance the level of economic activity in Nigeria, Leadway Assurance carried effectively repositioned its business to provide General & Industrial Property insurance business (such as Motor, Marine, Aviation, Building, Engineering and Money), Casualty (such as Worker’s Compensation, Public Liability). It also offers subsidiary financial services like Bond, Secured Credit, miscellaneous financial losses and Fund/Portfolio management. Its subsidiary, Leadway Life Assurance Company Limited provides Life Assurance & Investment Policies (such as Endowment, Deposit, Annuities and Critical Illness).
To further penetrate the market and establish its dominance, Leadway perfected the art of focalising “the customer” and his needs to the pivotal point of relevance in its operations and strategies. This, to a large extent, guaranteed a steady growth in its commitment to providing integrated insurance and financial services to its numerous customers. With the above, Leadway became one of Nigeria's foremost insurance companies, with reputation for service efficiency and customer reliability. For over 39 years, it has honoured its underwriting commitments and has earned its reputation of excellence in claims payment. LEADWAY now has a Shareholders' Funds of over N8.8billion and total assets of N16billion. The Company internally generates funds for capital projects as well as plays active roles in the local content arrangement of the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria.
The Company’s remarkable success has been possible because of its sound professional and business standards backed by the uncompromising level of integrity of its Directors. An uncompromising level of integrity of service is a tradition imbibed at LEADWAY and instilled by its late founder, Sir (Dr.) Hassan O. Odukale, KJW, D.Sc, FCIIN (1926-1999). As an astute and honest businessman the founding Managing Director and later Chairman of the Board of Directors, Sir Odukale nurtured the Company to an enviable position in the Nigerian insurance industry. His vision of dedicated service to all customers remains a guiding principle that shapes the policies of the company. Besides, as an Employer, Leadway believes in the strength of human potentials as the major catalyst that makes the difference between a successful organization and a failed one. In this regard, the company’s Human Capital Development philosophy is hinged on sourcing for the best candidates in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudinal potentials. The Company is home to all educational disciplines.
Essentially, Leadway believes in building its human capital potential primarily by recruiting highly resourceful graduates and develops these individuals by a number of methods including on the job coaching and professional training through participation in local and international training programmes. The Company hardly takes on experienced hands from outside and relies on the succession of its own internally groomed staff to positions of higher responsibility. This in itself, hallmarks its commitment to Nigeria’s future as no nation can rise beyond the exposure and capacity of its working population. Leadway, as corporate citizen of Nigeria, plays pivotal roles in the nation’s aggregated drive to curb rising unemployment.
With several national and international awards in its kitty, and AA-, AA+ ratings from Global Rating Co and Agusto & Co Ltd, Leadway continues to lead the way in the nationalistic efforts at solidifying Nigeria’s international credibility and rating as an emerging economic super power. According to Ratings Services Limited, the financial strength rating of 'B-' (Fair) and the issuer credit rating of "bb-" of Leadway Assurance Company Limited, reflect Leadway's "adequate risk-adjusted capitalization, marginally decreasing overall earnings and a resilient business profile in the Nigerian market,". The rating agency added that in its opinion, "Leadway's current and prospective risk-adjusted capitalization is adequate and supports the company's business plan.
As Nigeria clocks 50, no greater assurance of a future so golden for its people can be accessed on any template other than that which Leadway offers.