Nigeria Riots Underline Need for Insurance

Money Palaver

The author

By George Eze Emeghara

The rioting, looting and destruction which followed the relatively peaceful End SARS protests have a abated somewhat.

People whose shops, homes and businesses were broken into, looted and even set ablaze are cleaning up and counting their loses. Many of the business owners are ruined as some of them may never recover from the set back brought on by the riots and the looting.

A few of them will bounce back either because they have the resources to repair the damage, restock, and restart their businesses or they have some sort of insurance policy.

Given the attitude of Nigerians towards insuring their assets,it is not likely that most of the people affected have any insurance. Even if they did, it may just be limited to the more common policies covering fire, theft and burglary.

Their policies may not have covered them for damages caused by riots and disturbances.

The world over, insurance companies would go to any length to dodge paying claims, so it won’t be too difficult for the ones here to deny insured people or companies whose policies or cover do not include damage or losses from riots and civil disorders.

A looted phone shop…will insurance help?

The insurance companies should not be blamed if they look for loop holes to escape liability. They too have to survive. Ordinarily given the magnitude of the destruction insurance companies should be worried as the payout would be heavy.

But fortunately for them many of the affected businesses and property may not have had any insurance at all.
Those that did, probably never envisaged that there would be riots and looting in the relatively secure areas their businesses were located and so may not have extended their policy to cover such an eventuality.
In every that happens there is a lesson to be learnt.

The lesson here is that Nigerians have to embrace insurance companies a bit more.

This will protect them from the shocks which could arise from unforeseen, unpredicted and unpredictable calamities.

Nigerians really do not care about insurance or patronize insurance companies for several reasons. They just don’t trust them.

In the past the activities of many of these insurance companies left a lot to be desired. They always found a way of denying liability, avoiding payment and even when they agreed to pay, the payment was delayed for very long periods.

The aftermath.

It is not a surprise that there are very many cases in Nigerian courts between disappointed insurers and the companies which insured them, with the swindled insurers seeking to be paid their due.

Apart from the poor perception of insurance companies in the eyes of Nigerians, the poor economic climate and the low incomes have contributed to the poor patronage of insurance companies by Nigerians.

People who have no money to spare after meeting their basic needs cannot be expected to purchase insurance policies. Some will tell you that the are covered spiritually by whatever they worship, or believe in, and that ,for them, is the ultimate insurance.

As far as they are concerned they have no need for any insurance company.
There is indeed a need to educate Nigerians about the numerous benefits they can derive from patronising insurance companies and how they can do so with minimal regrets and stress.

The major issue before now was that people did not trust the insurance companies. Indeed, there were many dubious, fly by night operators among them. People who were only interested in collecting premiums and who went to any length to avoid their obligations to their customers. Happily, increased and better regulation has eliminated such companies.

Today there are 57 insurance companies operating in Nigeria. They offer various types and classes of insurance. All of them are adequately capitalised for the various kinds of risks they insure. They are run by well trained professionals who cannot afford to damage their reputations and those of the companies they work for.

There is really no excuse for not patronising them unless one genuinely cannot afford to do so. This is especially so because, according to a common Nigerian adage, ” No one knows tomorrow”.

George Eze Emeghara is a Nigerian journalist, writer and public affairs commentator based in the southeastern city of Owerri. Money Palaver is his weekly column for