Tuesday, December 29, 2020 / 02.57PM / By Ekerete Olawoye Gam-Ikon /
Header Image Credit: insurecover.co.za
Insurance is, indeed, part of our future but most of us prefer to discuss it in the present, asking questions like, "What can I get from it?" rather than seeking to answer the crucial question of "How did I plan to survive this time?"
A section of the latest news have revealed that Nigeria lost about 20 Doctors and several health professionals to the dreadful COVID-19 pandemic. Sad, very sad, however the families may not be so severely pained as the "relief package" that the insurance industry put together last April would arrive for the designated beneficiary. Recall that N11b worth of Group Life Insurance was packaged by selected insurers in response to the call for contribution by the Federal Government of Nigeria after the outbreak of the pandemic.
The insurance industry is quietly honouring such claims and those of their policyholders affected by the wanton destruction of properties following the #EndSARS protests in October. The point is those receiving their claims payment cheques had planned to survive any future unexpected losses or damages by taking up insurance.
It is similarly for this reason that those being owed long overdue payments of claims by some insurers should be paid without further delay, as some have become impoverished from waiting endlessly for the fulfilment of the "shifting promises" by the insurers to pay; most times, even after the intervention of the regulator, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) and the trade association, Nigeria Insurers Association (NIA).
When you know that insurance can help you survive a future that brings misfortune in form of death that causes you to leave loved ones behind, accidents that damage or cause you to lose your prized assets and/or deliberate acts of others that result in such damages/losses, you are amongst the distinguished few that understand the place of insurance in personal financial planning. Just like businesses do, you secure your future by ensuring that when the unexpected happens, you are able to bounce back and continue living like the accident or incident did not happen.
Assuming the Crisis Persist
As this new normal continues to unfold before our eyes and we are seeing one year of COVID-19 coupled with increased level of insecurity and debilitating state of the economy, it is simply advisable that you turn to insurance to protect yourself, your family and enterprise from any unexpected impacts.
You might be one of the beneficiaries of the Federal Government-sponsored Survival Fund and/or any other interventions at this time, the smart ones amongst you who know that such interventions will not last for long are already investing some percentage of what they receive in suitable insurance products that will ensure they are not stranded when the flows stop.
What will happen when over 300,000 Nigerians, for whatever reason do not receive payments from the Survival Fund 3 or 4 months from now and we are in the thick of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic? With no fallback position such as insurance, the crisis occasioned by the pandemic would have worsened for such Nigerians. However, those that had the appropriate insurance product for such a season would be approaching their insurers to either terminate their policies or take small loans on account of what such policies allow.
There lies the difference between those who prepared for the crisis, based on previous experiences, and those who decided to continue with the haphazard style of calling a friend or relative for help, which sometimes comes but takes away your dignity. Insurance, when it pays, actually dignifies you!
Importantly, when you consider giving it a trial, probably to firstly acquaint yourself with the options available, it is advisable to search online, walk into any bank (most of them have insurance affiliations) or request from your group members (most of us belong to one group or another); let the option of contacting that person you know working in an insurance company be the last. This is because you need the idea/knowledge you will get from other sources to better handle the sentiments often associated with buying through a close friend or relative.
The way you procure insurance in Nigeria, to a very large extent, determines what you experience when you have a claim and you need to process it for payment by your insurer. It has been noted that some Insurance Agents or Advisors are more interested in selling to earn their commission, and often end up making you pay for what you might find out you did not need at the point of discussing your claim.
Also, it is necessary to have your potential insurer's representative, when you have decided to buy insurance, show you useful evidence that the company has been paying claims and possibly provide a link where you can independently validate the information. Knowing that you are dealing with an insurer that gives priority to claims payment is the real meaning of enjoying peace of mind from having insurance cover; and being paid promptly when you have a claim, is the excitement, only comparable to receiving the expected returns on your investment!
Businesses that Insure Thrive Notwithstanding
Having the expertise to manage risks, especially in uncertain times like this, remain the differentiator in business and many business leaders know this. While some are doing the norm of chasing to get customers who pay, as we survive 2020 and go forth, more business owners have realized that they needed to protect their businesses from the hate actions of protesting citizens than seek or retain customers.
Emerging reports have revealed that the insurance industry is set to pay claims amounting to N9.7b to over 1,000 businesses, most of them in Lagos, that suffered losses and damages during the violent protests of October 2020. News of those that did not have insurance, which we know are far more than those that had, have not been heard yet but it would be expected that they are talking with relatives and friends for help. Possibly, some of the uninsured category of business owners will have to take loans to enable them return to business and the implications of such steps are obvious.
Insurance Tips for 2021
Whether as an individual or business owner, you will pray and plan to succeed in 2021, so you might need to consider these pieces of advice:
It is my hope that we will not walk/work through 2021 with the fear that held us bound in 2020 as we have developed better knowledge of the solutions that are available for survival and progress.
Remember, we still have the collective responsibility to build our nation, and I think, quite strongly, that with better understanding of the workings of insurance in our lives and businesses, we can apply superior knowhow to create the lifestyle we deserve.
Enjoy the beauty of ending well and the glory of starting afresh, leveraging on insurance as your tool for transition; after all, it is also a new insurance year for somebody and his/her business.