Clamour for compulsory insurance of public assets heightens
Before the potential in the insurance sector can be fully realised, there is a need for governments at all levels to insure all their assets, as this will also enhance the financial capacity of the sector in many ways.
This, the Director General, the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN), Richard Olutayo Borokini, in an interview with The Guardian, said would help cushion the effects of losses in the event of fire outbreaks and building collapses in the country.
To achieve this, Borokini also urged sgovernment to enforce a law that will bind all professionals to appreciate the place of insurance in all their dealings before being allowed to practice, noting that this is one of the ways the business is being made viable in other countries of the world.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Insurance, National Insurance Commission, (NAICOM), Muhammed Kari, said government agencies cannot shelve insurance because it is a recommendation of the law.
Kari in an interview in Lagos added that the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have the responsibility to protect government’s assets.“Government being the owner of the law cannot default. It is not in the interest of other consumers to see that government fails to insure. So, government will do everything it has to do to ensure it protects public assets.
“For instance, my responsibility as the chief executive of NAICOM is to ensure that I abide by all the laws of Nigeria, and ensure the enforcement of all laws. Sometimes, operators take it unkindly when I ask them questions that are not insurance-related. I do ask companies if they are making returns to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). They may ask, what is my business with their returns?
“If I licenced a company, it is my duty to ensure that it obeys the laws of Nigeria. It is my business to ensure that companies pay their taxes and meet the requirements of other regulators. So it is interwoven and I cannot see any responsible officer sitting on top of an MDA and say insurance should be relegated. We are trying to sensitise them not to do so and we have organized a retreat for top level officers to appreciate their responsibilities under the insurance market,” Kari said.
He added that “an informed consumer of insurance gives priority to insurance when the economy gets tough. This is because, the ability to replace lost and damaged things become more difficult; hence, one needs to look for an opportunity to transfer the risk to someone else.
“However, we cannot say our society has reached that level. In the country, insurance occupies the last priority in the hierarchy of needs, and in times like this, it gets more ignored in an economy like ours.”
He attributed the low patronage of insurance to the fact that Nigerians lacked basic insurance knowledge to fully appreciate the benefits inherent in it, saying: “there’s a willing suspension of acquiring basic knowledge about insurance products and how it works by majority of Nigerians which must be dispelled.”
According to Kari, experience has shown that an individual who took an insurance policy in the past but suffered an ugly experience along the line was largely due to his inability to read through the insurance policy document. He added that such an individual is capable of giving the wrong information or misrepresentation of ideas to prospective customers who would have liked to take a policy.
Similarly, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Great Nigeria Insurance (GNI), Cecilia Olapeju Osipitan, said low awareness remains one of the major reasons why a very large percentage of the Nigerians are not insuring as they ought to considering the population and the level of commercial activities in the country.
She emphasised the need to positively influence the perception of the insuring public to engender greater patronage, as this is adversely affecting the performance of the industry, and charged the industry operators to do more on sensitisation of the masses to ensure better patronage.