Onitsha, Benin Fire Incidents: Deepening Insurance Cover In Nigeria

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Friday, October 25, 2019 / 03:20 PM / Bukola Akinyele for Proshare WebTV / Header Image Credit: BellaNaija


On Wednesday, October 16th 2019, a fuel tanker fire accident claimed several lives and buildings and properties in one of the busiest markets of the Eastern part of Nigeria, the Onitsha main market in Anambra state. On Saturday October 21st 2019 shops were razed by fire and goods worth millions of naira were consumed in a blaze at the Santana Market,  Sapele Road in Benin, Edo State.


In addressing issues related to the risk protection industry and incessant market fires, WebTV discussed with an Insurance specialist, Mr. Ekerete Ola Gam-Ikon, about how fire-risk protection can work into the architecture of market administration across then country.


How can market groups across the country engage insurance companies in ring-fencing their assets against fire accidents and similar risks?

Looking at it from the angle of who stands to benefit more from such engagement might help, and I think the insurance industry stands to gain more both in terms of deepening insurance penetration and creating more value for the economy.


It is disturbing that insurance campaigns are more about telling people to BUY INSURANCE without many pieces of evidence of how insurance has worked for people, especially in increasing cries by individual policyholders for settlement of their claims.


Imagine that 15,000 market men and women take up life insurance policies in the first instance, then their properties, including shops, vehicles, houses and transactions. Remember, there is compulsory insurance for public buildings, and I wish that were in place.


The truth is, the market groups may be hesitant given the mixed feelings people have about insurance, so the insurance industry under the aegis of the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) must have a progressive engagement with the market groups. It can't be a one-off event.


What should be the role of NIA in creating more awareness of insurance products for MSMEs, traders, and essentially the informal sector?

NIA, as the trade association of insurance companies in Nigeria, is appropriately positioned to drive the awareness campaigns; however they have had internal differences over the years, which we are hoping the current leadership will address. When you have members with diverse challenges, especially in this period of recapitalization, it can be difficult to present this as a common cause.


So, while it is good to see recent efforts at engaging the public, NIA will have to be more frontal and approach the sources of the insurance business.


Insurance is a law, and the NIA knows, so they should not allow the National Policy on MSME and other similar laws to be reviewed and passed into law without the element of insurance.


Is this issue about the government or the people in charge of the market?

The government has played its part by putting a law in place; the industry leaders have to be more creative to win more people into insurance, most especially traders.


The tickets that people in charge of the market collect every day from the traders are for what?

Interestingly, there exist several options to insurance at their level, and they have confidence in it more than conventional insurance. Those market collections are for the maintenance of the market.


Speaking further on the incidents, Gam-Ikon said the question is: did they have knowledge and understanding of the need for insurance in their businesses? The answer would likely be '"No," and this is a major challenge for the risk-protection industry at both retail and wholesale levels.

He noted that why traders do not insure their lives and goods is that they do not have pleasant experiences with insurers, and the bad stories have persisted from generation to generation in spite of the decent work that has been done by a few insurers and the regulator.


"The insurance industry needs to communicate better with the public and be more efficient in its service delivery. It is imperative to mention that if the tanker had a genuine Third Party Motor Insurance policy, the insurer would have been responsible for the compensation of the families of the deceased and those that were injured" Gam-Ikon said.


He said this is beside the fact that at least N1.0m is provided by the policy to take care of the damaged property of the affected parties.


The insurance consultant believed that this is the kind of information prospective policyholders in the haulage activities need to possess and use in their business.

Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.


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Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.

Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.

Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.

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