Crisis of Identity Management, COVID-19 And Insurance


Thursday, April 30, 2020 / 08:27 AM  / By Ekerete Ola Gam-Ikon  / Header Image Credit: Insurance Day


Elsie is a Nigerian female and high flyer in her profession with various forms of identification, which had made her feel quite privileged until some weeks ago when we got talking about the developing impact of COVID-19 on our personal lives and careers.

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She, like many of us, has her Nigerian International Passport (NIP), Driver's Licence (DL), Tax Identification Number (TIN), Personal Voters Card (PVC), Bank Verification Number (BVN), National Identity Number (NIN) and several numbers associated with her workplace, bank accounts, mobile phones and professional bodies!


These NUMBERS are put to use almost on a daily basis, yet as I pointed out to her, during this COVID-19 period, the most relevant one is her Health Insurance Number (HIN) because it bears personalized benefits, especially access to medicare, in the event that she needed to be at any designated health centre for medical attention. 


This harmless assertion got both of us reflecting and reviewing the pros and cons of our numerous forms of identification.


Identification Without Benefits? 

A critical review of our various forms of identification revealed that if the benefits of having these identification numbers and cards were taken into consideration beyond the purpose, it would have been less tedious to handle the current COVID-19 crisis.


Quite often, when we are required to present our form of identification, we respond only with the understanding that it ALLOWS US TO PASS on to the next stage.


A quick survey by random sampling has revealed that many Nigerians will be more attached to their forms of identification if they were educated on the benefits these identity cards bear.


Unfortunately, it is similar attitude that we have seen with the way people relate with the insurance of their vehicles. The Motor Insurance Certificate is merely taken as a piece of paper that ALLOWS US TO PASS the law enforcement officers on the road, whereas it affords the victim, in the event of an accident, compensation that would enable repair of the other parties' vehicle (or property) and settlement of resultant medical bills.

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Unique Benefits of Insurance Identity 

When you decide to buy insurance particularly Life and Health Insurance contracts, you are required to provide every detail about your health status and, sometimes, undergo comprehensive medical examination.


The import of this is that your insurer becomes the primary custodian of your highly confidential personal data, which can only be accessed with your permission in line with privacy policy. 


So, at a time like this, if the identities of Nigerians were with insurers, the fight against the spread of COVID-19 would probably have been easier as appropriate health authorities would, by now, have collaborated with insurers for credible information. Put simply, Nigerians with Health Insurance Numbers would possibly have been attended to differently and that would have automatically reduced the population of those that we needed to assess towards the determination of their statuses.


Health records are collated mostly from the day of one's birth but we know that till date many home deliveries happen hence the need to create Universal Health Identification Number that would capture all Nigerians. 


Learning From COVID-19 

So far, COVID-19 has exposed the ineffectiveness of our numerous forms of identification in managing any crisis, notwithstanding the frequency or severity of prevalent risks.


How we can ensure better response to the next crisis or effective management of post COVID-19 days is to attempt to ascertain the benefits of the respective forms of identification to Nigerians.


Like I pointed out, the benefits of having an insurance policy number (Life, Health, Travel) to a Nigerian is more evident than others except one can present arguments for them.

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I do hope we can take a hard look at this and initiate a process/program where every Nigerian has a healthcare number within the shortest possible time. This could mean having a Presidential Committee to consider using the information/data already available with different departments and agencies.


Afterall, we have agreed, more than at any other time, that HEALTH IS WEALTH.


About The Author

Ekerete Olawoye Gam-Ikon, MNIM, CPP, is a management consultant with a specialization in Strategy and Insurance. He is available through e-mail

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