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2021: Insurance industry shows resilience amid rising claims

Insurers eye new template for government assets

After an accumulated loss following the #EndSARS protest in October 2020, lockdowns and economic disruptions occasioned by Covid-19, the Nigerian insurance industry in 2021 came out strong and resilient despite rising claims.

Even though the industry has continued to struggle with low penetration of less than 1 percent despite the country’s huge population, its ability to stand strong in meeting claims obligation, particularly the #EndSARS as well as providing free health coverage for Covid-19 front-line health workers, has given it recognition from the Federal Government.

As at the last count, insurance companies in Nigeria have paid out claims totalling about N9 billion to different customers that suffered losses from the lootings and destruction that followed the #EndSARS protests.

According to the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) in a report, the umbrella body of underwriting companies, the amount came from three death claims while the rest were paid on other property losses.

The report shows that the insurance companies settled 718 claims on vandalism; 93 cases on looting; 113 on theft, and 136 on loss of cash.

The NIA also disclosed that 99 claims were settled on malicious damage; 8 on business interruption; 455 on burglary attack and 912 on fire and burnt sites.

Yetunde Ilori, director-general, NIA, said, “What started as a protest about the State Anti-Robbery Police Unit later snowballed into a crisis of unprecedented dimension with resultant loss of lives and properties.”

According to Ilori, following the losses suffered by businesses in the aftermath of the #ENDSARS violence, the insurance industry in line with its role of providing financial intermediation and restoring businesses quickly moved in to provide the necessary cushion for those that have insurance cover and others who suffered losses to their businesses.

Read also: Technology, foreign investment, others changing the face of insurance industry

While appreciating the role of the industry in meeting these claim obligations in 2021, she called on individuals and corporate entities to imbibe the culture of insuring in lives and property, “as insurance exists to cushion the harsh effects of unforeseen circumstances and situations.”

Muftau Oyegunle, president, Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN), looking at 2021, said incidences of the past year had further underscored the need for insurance as a risk management mechanism to be taken seriously in our country.

The Covid-19 and consequent downturn of the economy have further increased the level of poverty in our country, and the message to government at various levels is that for sustainability, insurance must be incorporated into most of the support mechanisms that they are offering, Oyegunle said.

To him, the government can make health insurance compulsory by subsidising the premium, stating that it has been successfully done in other countries.

On the recent collapsed 21-storey – 360 Degrees – apartment at Gerald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, on November 1, 2021, where 45 deaths have so far been recorded, and many wounded without any insurance cover, Oyegunle said these exposed the level of decadence in our society; “It simply revealed the level of culture of settlement in our country.”

In terms of market development and transformational changes in the industry, the industry regulator, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) in the year under review continued its efforts to domesticate compulsory insurance implementation across the nation. This is hoped would begin to manifest in terms of numbers in the coming year.

NAICOM also was able to launch a portal during the year under review, which is expected would enhance data collection and bridge the information gap that has characterised the sector in the past.