With the cost of last week’s destruction of Lagos State public assets put at about N1 trillion, unquantified damage to other private assets along with injury and loss of lives across the country, it has become clear that the insurance industry will be badly hit with billions of claims.
This came on the heels of the shooting of #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Tollgate in Lagos by men of the military leading to looting, arson and destruction across all areas of endeavour, including businesses, government and private. Even the judiciary was not spared as court houses were razed.
Among the public assets destroyed in Lagos State were 89 new buses of the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) burnt down in Oyingbo and Berger where they were parked.
Each of the buses, according to Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, costs about $200,000.
The multi-million naira forensic and DNA centre, the Igbosere High Court, local government secretariat buildings, and hundreds of vehicles, other public buildings and street lights, among others, were affected.
But the umbrella body of insurance companies, the Nigeria Insurers Association (NIA) has assured that companies would pay all valid claims arising from the protest and revive the economy.
The body however noted that insurance covers could only be extended to institutions, companies and individuals with policies that extend to riots and commotion.
Its Chairman, Mr Ganiyu Musa, in a telephone chat with The Nation, said the damage from the protest fell under riots and civil disturbance.
He assured that insurance companies have the capacity to pay all valid claims, stressing that claims could only be paid on insurance covers that extend to riots and civil disturbance.
He added that the fallout from the protest would deal a major blow on the industry.
Musa said: “It is clear that the industry will be badly hit just based on what we are seeing on the television. We have seen a lot of destruction of properties and lives. We are reviewing and collating in terms of exposure on the industry. Our concern however is the casualties and people injured. We don’t know the number of deaths. This in itself is primary and so the most important thing is to see how all of this will stop and we don’t slide into anarchy.
“For those who have valid cover, I can assure you that their claims will be paid and promptly. The level we are now in the industry is that valid claim must be paid. We have Complaints Bureau and Ombudsman facility that ensure that no company defaults on genuine claims. The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) also has its own Complaint Bureau as a regulator.
“It is unfortunate that most small businesses do not buy into insurance. As insurers, we have tried to make people key into insurance and take advantage of the benefits therein. We are in business to pay claims to return people and businesses back to normal before a loss occurs’’.
Musa stressed that insurance plays an important role in any society.
“Nobody can ever imagine that a protest that started peacefully can end with so much destruction. But when you have insurance and there is life, you are assured of compensations that will make you recover financially and take care of yourself in case of injury.
“Insurance provides economic and financial protection to the insured against the unexpected losses in consideration of an amount called premium. It provides financial protection to the insured in case of the pre-mature death of insured. Business owners can take on certain business ventures because they can shift the risk to insurance companies”, he noted.
The Executive Secretary, Mr Fatai Adegbenro, said the destruction caused by the protest is an avenue for insurance companies to showcase their capacity in claims settlement.
He urged the operators to rise up to the occasion and not be worried about the loss that will hit the industry as a result of the huge claims they will pay.
He disclosed that there is no cause for alarm for the industry because every policy has reinsurance backing.
The development is good for the industry because all this while, there has been talks that the industry does not pay claim so now is the time for us to showcase the industry as having the capacity to revive the economy
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