March 16, 2020 / 09:30 AM /By Ekerete Ola Gam-Ikon / Header Image Credit: Wall Street Journal
You may have been sold the idea of a Life Insurance policy, which gives life (hope) to your dependents in the event of your unexpected demise whether as a result of accident or illness, and you said "God forbid!" That remains our common response, though a few people have gone beyond it to say "Whatever be the case, we will accept it as the will of God".
So often, the concerted efforts to deny our need for insurance, based on the simple notion that we should not put our lives in the hands of others or help others to make money on our misfortunes, have been the most intriguing aspects of my engaging experiences with insurance policyholders and would-be policyholders!
It is quite common to see people, notwithstanding their level of social experience and knowledge, invest hugely in assets or intellectual work, then fail to see or understand why they should secure or protect such investments with insurance. The usual answer is "Insurance companies in Nigeria do not pay claims when the time comes!"
Presenting facts like the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) did recently that the insurance industry in Nigeria paid N330b as claims in 2019 and N207b in 2018, does not sway people.
What moves them, and had become the marketing tool for some insurance companies and practitioners, is the FEAR OF LOSING that prized asset from good health to the multi-million automobiles. These ones insure with strong expectations of compensation and when nothing comes, may be on account of not paying attention to the policy details, insurance is bad news.
Waiting For The Bad News?
Globally, there is that news - COVID 19, which is far worse than anything insurance could do to any of us and the FEAR OF CORONAVIRUS is not like anything we have lived with. Good enough, we have seemingly had enough time to learn about it and the previous unhealthy experiences from Ebola have been very useful.
Ordinarily, one would expect that we adopt some, if not all, of the precautionary measures we have seen in the last few weeks against situations that have been eating up our population in nearly the same way COVID 19 has done in other countries, to address our battles against insecurity, recession, poverty, diseases and disasters.
These "viruses" can similarly receive the bouts of attention that governments at the Federal and State level are giving this pandemic. Especially, the communication of what to do namely regular washing of hands amongst others have made life quite meaningful these days.
Imagine then if we were consistently communicating steps that citizens should take to stay free from insecurity, diseases, disasters and poverty!
The Role of Insurance Explained
Could we suggest that citizens take insurance contracts as part of safety tips in the face of insecurity? Yes!
The common security risks we face are forceful seizure of our movable assets (cars, laptops, phones, documents, clothing and jewelries), which are insurable, often under householders comprehensive insurance. Losing your prized assets can be painful but the process of coming back to the position you were before that unexpected and unfortunate incident can be very tortuous.
In terms of diseases, when people are struck and they cannot even visit the hospital because they do not have money to pay the consultation fees, therein lies part of the explanation for our poverty level, which could have been averted if the affected persons had insurance.
The Federal and State Governments need to start advising citizens to take insurance policies that will be useful when diseases and disasters strike. We cannot afford to wait for these wealth destroyers when we can use insurance to safeguard ourselves and our hard-earned assets.
The active poor amongst us can be helped to steadily escape the poverty bracket through effective and efficient microinsurance experiences.
These ones understand the philosophy of insurance but need the conventional insurance that can deliver positive changes in quality of living. With minuscule sums they can have insurance contracts that addresses their healthcare and lifestyle issues. Affordability is a principal issue that is addressed at this level.
What If Coronavirus Arrives?
When that fever arrives before one is confirmed to have COVID 19 or otherwise, having health or medical insurance emboldens you to make that visit to the hospital, without any fear of being quarantined. You could self-quarantine and that would be because your insurance empowers you.
However, once the health situation has been declared a global epidemic as the World Health Organization (WHO) recently did, insurers would exclude the cost of treatment for the virus from the insurance policy, and policyholders need to be aware of this at the point of buying the policy.
Under such circumstances, insurers would share necessary information with policyholders and the general public on a regular basis.
With the increasing participation of global insurance brands in the Nigerian market, one can hope that insurers in Nigeria would adopt effective ways of communicating the offerings they have to help citizens respond better to insecurity, diseases, disasters and poverty.
We cannot be fully prepared to respond to crisis whether economic, political or social, without insurance.
Do you even know that your insurance policy can serve as the collateral that our banks regularly demand for?
We must explore the benefits of insurance as we seek ways to manage any virus at any time.
What you know will save you...
"Knowledge isn't power until it is applied!" - Dale Carnegie
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