Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc is one of Nigeria’s leading insurance companies that has successfully stood the test of time and is still waxing stronger despite the myriads of challenges bedeviling the business climate in Nigeria and more importantly, the huge challenge facing insurance companies in sourcing for and retaining businesses in this our great and peculiar nation.

Recently, we met with Mr. Segun Bankole, an Assistant General Manager and Head of Corporate Communications & Brand Management of STI Plc and he shed a lot of light about the company and insurance business in general in Nigeria.

Mr. Segun Bankole. AGM & Head of Corporate Communications; STI Plc.

From our interactions with him, one could feel the passion in him for the industry and his company in particular. Such ‘fire’ is what many companies would wish all their staff had in them because, with just 5 of such ‘Seguns’, a company with vision will excel in whatever they do.

Ride along on this interesting read.

Naija Car Lovers (NCL): Ok, may we know you sir.

Segun Bankole (SB): My name is Segun Bankole. I’m an Assistant General Manager with Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc. I’m the Head of Corporate Communications & Brand Management for STI Plc as we call it out there, that’s the acronym for the brand; Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc. 

We commenced business in January, 2nd, 1995, following the restructuring and recapitalization of the then Grand Union Assurances Limited. The company went into operation with authorized and paid-up capital of 30 million and 20 million respectively. Currently, our authorized share capital is 5.25 billion Naira divided into 10.5 billion units of 50K per share. We have a fully paid capital and shareholder’s fund of over 3.4 billion Naira. The interesting thing about the company is that the ownership is made up of diverse shareholders from wide range of individuals and institutional investors with a robust board of directors of distinguished personalities.

Following the Federal Government’s directives on recapitalization and consolidation, which ended on February 28th, 2007, Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc, was among the licensed companies to underwrite general insurance business, having consummated a merger arrangement with the erstwhile Confidence Insurance Plc, Coral International Insurance Co. Ltd and Prime Trust Insurance Co. Ltd. From inception, the company moved from an average industry rating to a leading position and we thank God that today, we have invested in the best of the people and technology, we are improving on our processes, we are growing our market share at an average of 30% on a year-in-year-out basis. The company continuously strives to be among the top 5 insurance companies in Nigeria. Today, our board of directors is made up of reputable individuals that have distinguished themselves in different fields of endeavour. Our head office is located on 17 Adetokumbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. With area and branch offices spread across the country so the insuring public can get us anywhere in any part of the country. Our day to day operation is manned by very well experienced and vibrant workers.

NCL: What are your vision and mission?

SB: To be a leading brand, providing insurance and financial services of global standards while our mission is to enhance the everyday life of our customers through innovative insurance and financial services while creating exceptional values for our shareholders.

Our objective as a company, one, it is the intention of the company to achieve the following key objectives; 

  1. To generate superior returns by focusing on higher margin niche markets. 
  2. We intend to acquire superior underwriting risk capabilities.
  3. Ensure optimal risk and capital management.
  4. Maintain high quality and diversified investment portfolios.
  5. Focus on people as our key differentiator 
And we have always been doing these. I must say that the company parades about or if not more than 37 Chartered Insurers in the industry and Qualified Chartered Accountants in the company spread across all our branches. We also have some of us who are non-insurance practitioners who have probably made up the pack of very scholarly minds that the organization has put together and that has been a niche for us. For some of our products and services as a Non-Life Insurance company, we provide insurance polices in the areas of marine and aviation, general business. What we mean by that is we provide indemnity to our various clients against material and pecuniary losses that could arise out of various risks such as Motor, Fire, Thefts, Personal Accidents, Consequential Loss, Money, Workmen Compensation, Goods-In Transit (GIT), Public Liability, Fidelity Guarantee, Professional Indemnity and all other miscellaneous forms of insurance. 
For our motor insurance policy, which is one of the most common of all the insurance policies in the country, we underwrite for the Comprehensive Motor Insurance Policy, which provides cover for damage to loss of the insured vehicle as a result of accidental damage, fire, theft or any attempt that might occur at some point in time. Legally we are liable to insure whoever is taking the comprehensive policy in total form, that includes bodily injury as well. 
For your Third Party Fire and Theft Motor Insurance Policy, the legal liability is just for the third party property damage and bodily injury. 
We have done so well in the insurance of Oil and Gas in the country. In times past, we had always been one of the major underwriting firms for some of the very instructive and very big Oil and Gas businesses in the country and that we pride ourselves as having built some level of capacity over the time in this particular regard be it upstream, downstream, power, solid minerals and other special products that you can think of.
As an organization, we try as much as possible to set the pace in the insurance industry which basically is a fallout of our vision of wanting to be a leading brand. And way back in 2009 thereabout, we came up with an accident cover which we call the SWIS-F, which is the Sovereign Wellbeing  Insurance Scheme for the Family. And the interesting thing about the product is that it’s just 1,5oo Naira per annum per an adult (18-65 years). For a child between 6 and 17 years, it is just 250 Naira per annum.  The most interesting thing is that if the insured gets involved in an accident and maybe he or she has to go to the hospital, the policy covers your medical expenses up to the tune of 100,000 Naira. 
In the case where the accident leads to the demise of the insured, the next of kin, gets a total sum of 500,000 Naira. And another 100,000 Naira for burial arrangements and another 20,000 Naira for transportation for moving the corpse from point A to point B. So in totality, for the SWIS-F if the accident leads to some level of incapacitation, you are looking at about 500,000 Naira to about 620,000 Naira. And the reason for doing that is to let the general public especially those in the socio-economic ladder; C/D/E, know that insurance is not only for the rich alone. That even the common man can benefit from insurance, and it is universal, meaning that you can be in a country outside Nigeria and take that policy so that if anything happens, once you get your documentation right, you would be sure that STI would take care of your needs as it were. So it’s one very unique product that we are trying as much as possible to latch on so that we can have the product penetrate into the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. I would also say that these are the kind of policies that some institutions like the armed forces, the police, LASTMA, trade unions, can get for their workforce. 
We always say that insurance is still at a very low ebb in terms of its penetration but if we get into the market with such product, you will be so sure that a lot of benefits can accrue from that and the ripple effects will be good for the industry. So we had pioneered that in Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc, and it’s a product we pride ourselves in and we hope that in subsequent years, the SWIS-F will become a household product all over Nigeria. 
The Chairman of the company is Highness, Dr Ephraim Faloughi oon, a superb gentleman, an industrialist of repute and he’s been around in the business world for awhile. He’s done very good since the inception of the organization and we have our Vice-Chairman, Mr. Seun Ajayi. 
Incidentally, he was the pioneer Managing Director. He started off the company and inline with our succession plan, he left it, handing over to another young man who steered the ship of the company for another 8 years; Mr. Wale Onaolapo who has retired now. This is one good thing about the company; the succession plan is quite very good. 
The current Managing Director has been with the company for like 18 years now. He became the MD of the company on January 2, 2016 and his name is Mr. Olaotan Soyinka. 
Ugochi Odemelam is the Executive Director of STI Plc. She heads the Marketing and Business Development Division for the organization. 
So that’s about that for STI Plc, we will continue to look for ways of making insurance a very welcoming business for Nigerians. We will look at ways of endearing the insuring public to see our brand as the most preferable brand our of all the brands in the country. Yes, there are good brands out there, but we want to be one brand that when you think insurance, you think Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc.
NCL: Why should the ordinary man on the street patronize STI Plc instead of the other insurance companies and I hope that when they pay their premium and an issue arises, that you also pay their claims.
SB: Yes, the common man on the street should patronize Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc because just like we used to say back in my university days that it was University of Ife and the rest, so here,  we pride ourselves that it’s just two insurance companies that are in the country and they are Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc and the others. Our pay-off line captures it all…We’ve got you covered…. It’s a friendly organization. We hold so dearly to the principle of insurance interms of integrity, trust, we pride ourselves as being very upstanding when it comes to issues of ethics and governance and that is why overtime we have not had any major issue arising from non-payment of claims and all that. Once you are dutiful in your premium payments, i don’t see any reason why when all things have been taken into consideration, why we shouldn’t pay your claims. This is why we want the common man to see us as his partner in progress. What we are selling is that satisfaction and the assurance that if anything comes your way,…life is full of uncertainties, but when those uncertainties come, there is a friend, an ally in Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc that will take you back to your former position which is basically what insurance business is all about.
On two consecutive occasions, we were voted the best CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) among the various insurance companies in Nigeria. For the past ten years now, we have been working in perpetuity with the organizers of the Diamond Award for Media Excellence (DAME). What we have done in that regard is that we endorse the best insurance correspondent in the insurance industry. It’s our own part of contribution; giving back to the society and building the human capacity for journalists when it comes to the reporting of insurance so that more awareness can be created in this regard. 
Also, Ibadan Golf Club, we have been there for them, and also received an award, appreciating us for giving back to the society. 
Equally, the Ikoyi Club 1938, we even have a Table Tennis Tournament that we probably be going into the 8th edition this year. 
We were one of the insurance companies when they started the Risk Awards that got an award. One of our staff too, the Head of Compliance and Risk Management Department, in the person of Mr. Sanni Oladimeji got an award. It’s a company that if we begin to reel out all our awards, you will be so amazed. But for all that we have done in the last 21/22 years, the company has gotten a great deal of awards to show for it and for us, it is not about what we do rather when those awards come our way, it shows that some people are watching and appreciating us from somewhere. The National Association of Insurance Correspondents voted us as One of the Media Friendly Insurance Companies in the country and it is a good thing for us and we hope to continue in that stride, we also hope that those awards will translate to Naira and Kobo because it tells that people have so much confidence in us and we want that confidence to translate to great levels of patronage to the organization so that subsequently we can be a profitable organization and the fact that we are a publicly quoted company, i would have even loved to talk about our CSR initiatives in terms of giving back to the society, we have done quite a number of it, in line with our vision of wanting to be that leading brand, we were the first insurance company to want to be relevant in the financial industry. In 2008/9, when we had the Nations Cup in Ghana, we took Nigerians on the bill of the company, on an all-expenses-paid-trip to Ghana to watch the African Nations Cup and it was a very good experience. What i learnt from that was that we created ambassadors all over the country because we had people from different states participating in that outing. Obviously, the domino effect, the pass-around, the talk-value, “we went to Ghana because Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc sponsored us” for those young lads, even the elderly ones among them, when they hear insurance, they obviously will think of Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc. 
We have had to support a reality television show; The Celebrity Weekend that we were taking people from state to state, all in the bid to see how we can expose our citizens to other parts of the states other than we they are basically resident and we did that for some time before it was rested. 
We had partnered with Lagos Business School. 
We have done initiatives with the organization who is into promoting entrepreneurship in terms of building their entreprenueralship skills. 
We have the Teenage Life that we support on a yearly basis.
We have also supported the WIMBIZ (Women In Business). And several others, and all these are in line with our CSR platform which is HSE meaning Health, Sports and Environment. 
Today, the once dilapidated and forgotten Shitta Roundabout was resuscitated through the effort of STI Plc and it has become a landmark in the Surulere axis, every year we try to do a new thing in regenerating the place and making it a memorable landmark for people in the state and we hope to spread such initiative around the country especially in locations where we have our offices. So the brand had been very active and responsive also when we have to give back to the society and we hope we continue in that stride and like i said earlier on, when you think insurance, you think Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc. 
NCL: Thank you sir for your time.
S.B: You are most welcome.
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