Insurers lament losses from fire incidents
..Task public on occupation liability policy to mitigate losses
FIRE outbreak in both public and private institutions in different parts of the country, boosted insurers renewed appeal to the insuring public to take advantage of the compulsory insurance – Occupiers Liability Insurance Policy (OLIP) in the industry to mitigate losses in the event of fire- outbreak.
The call is coming at the backdrop of increasing fire disaster in various parts of the country where property worth millions of naira were lost, without any form of compensation to recoup these losses.
In Lagos State, for instance, with increased dryness in the atmosphere as a result of the harmattan haze, a number of fire-breaks have been recorded since the beginning of the new year. This include the fire incidents at Balogun market, Oko Baba, Igando, Pako market, among others.
Reports also indicated that fire disaster also occurred in Oyo , Ogun states, with property worth over N1 billion lost to the inferno.
Similar cases of fire havoc were reported in other parts of the country involving millions of naira loss of property.
In recognition of this losses and to check this menace, Section 65 of the 2003 Insurance Act provided for Occupiers Liability Insurance Policy, which stipulates that all business and office premises (government, corporate, and private), guest houses, hostels and residential estates, must take this compulsory policy cover for protection.
Industry chieftains who spoke to The Guardian lamented these losses, but regretted that the public are not taking advantage of the compulsory insurance policy to protect themselves against fire out-break and unexpected risks.
According to the risk managers, every outbreak of fire poses serious threat to the national economy, as it leaves enormous material damage, injury to persons, disruption of economic and commercial activities of the people affected.
The economic implications of these losses, industry chieftains believe the ideal alternative is for Nigerians to buy insurance policy and transfer this burden to the insurers, who are the professional risk bearers.
According to practitioners, this would surely ease the burden of government in mitigating these losses, since insurance is a social device providing financial compensation to cushion the effect of unexpected misfortune, adding that where adequate fire insurance policy exists, property destroyed by fire can be reinstated with minimum delay.
The President of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), Ayodapo Shoderu, lamenting the incidents of fire outbreaks in Iron rod market, Agodi in Ibadan and Balogun market in Lagos said, “The continuous loses of merchandise and properties in many commodity markets in the country to fire disasters, is a serious concern since such loses could be better prevented and mitigated if the victims had embraced insurance.
According to him, the market fire had deprived means of livelihood and survival to several market men and women who expectedly were breadwinners of their families. The NCRIB is pained by the loss and we seize this opportunity to underscore the need for adequate preventive measures against fire disasters”
Shoderu said “This is why the economy is not growing. Insurance is the last hope of any human kind. If a loss occurs and insurance has been purchased, it puts the individual in better stead as if no loss was incurred. But where no insurance has been purchased, it causes a reduction to wealth by the amount of value of those insurable assets.”
The Group Managing Director. Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc, Akin Ogunbiyi, in his remark said that compliance with the compulsory insurance products had over the years represented both opportunities and challenges to the entire insurance industry in Nigeria.
According to him, a large percentage of Nigerians are not aware of these insurances, the advantage and benefits that they will get from insuring their property.
What we need to do as an industry, he said, is to come up with products and services that will meet the needs of 170 million Nigerians. Besides, we need to take awareness campaign to the nooks and crannies of this country, the rural people need insurance and they will be ready to buy insurance to protect their lives and property.
The Managing Director/CEO, Staco Insurance Plc, Sakiru Oyefeso, sympathized with the victims of fire outbreaks in the country, but lamented that many of these properties gutted by fire, wind storm, flood, etc do not buy insurance to protect themselves. He attributed it to lack of awareness and general apathy about insurance generally.
According to him, any country that really wants to develop and grow must take insurance business seriously because it is the engine room for any economic progress.
He said “What we need to do as an industry is to intensify awareness campaign in all the state governments, local government areas, the small scale businesses, market men and women to sensitize them on the existence of these compulsory insurances, the advantages and benefits to their businesses.
He said “The compulsory insurances on public building is very important as it would help to minimize the impact of fire outbreak and the painful effect on the insuring public. What we need to do as an industry is to consistently create enlightenment in the heart of Nigerians on the necessity of this policy and benefits of buying the cover for protection in the event of fire outbreak and other misfortune.”