While many Nigerians living and doing business in towns and villages ravaged by flood across the country continue to count their losses, insurance operators said they were yet to record any insured coming forward to make claims in their offices nationwide.
Even though the operators have stated their readiness to surpass the expectations of their clients who may be affected, they said that current flood disaster has just exposed the lack of awareness and apathy for insurance among Nigerians.
With the exception of the specialist agricultural risks underwriter, Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC), which is yet to speak on recent flood claims, THISDAY checks revealed that most operators in the industry may not have suffered any serious loss as a result of flood in this dispensation.
Speaking on the experience of his company on flood claims, for instance, the Managing Director of Consolidated Hallmark Insurance Plc, Mr. Eddie Efekoha said no claims had been reported in any of the company’s branches nationwide, an indication that most of the affected people were not insured.
He said, “Flooding is part of what we regard as special peril and is part of the fire policy. But whether the current flooding is what we anticipated becomes another issue because natural peril is difficult to cover and that is why government is regarded as an insurer in case of natural perils.
“But as far as this one is concerned, a lot of the places that were affected are not major buyers of insurance yet because each time l go out l ask, do you have any flooding claims so far reported? Many said they do not have any claims yet, because most of the affected areas (villages) are yet to see much development.”
Efekoha, however, said that Nigeria was never classified as a natural disaster zone and as such, the industry did not envisage the present challenges, adding that going forward, insurance operators in the country would continue to take this into consideration when making business decisions.
“We have not identified Nigeria as a natural disaster zone as such and most insurers will always look at flood as special risk, whereas this kind of flood is unlike the one coming from a leaking overhead tank, affecting both the high and the low.
“Even President Goodluck Jonathan’s house in the village was not spared which means it is not just my house or yours in the village or town that was flooded. This flood is no respecter of anything and the flood risk is the situation we face today, which means that the risk is with us and we must take all the measures to plan for it and to manage it effectively,” he explained.
Speaking in the same vein, the Managing Director of Lasaco Assurance Plc, Mr. Olusola Ladipo-Ajayi said the current flood has exposed the lack of awareness and apathy towards insurance on the part of most Nigerians, noting that he did not expect much flood claims to be paid by insurers.
“I am not expecting a deluge of claims on insurance companies because the contract to bring about such claims does not exist,” he said.
The Lasaco Assurance boss also observed the victims of the flood, which he described as the realities of climatic change, were mostly peasants, adding that were it to be in a country where insurance is widely accepted, the insurance industry would be fretting by now.
“Most casualties are peasants. The rich don’t insure how much more peasants living in unplanned areas near water. We have an alternative insurance arrangement in Nigeria.When such things happen everybody would rush to government but government officials are now complaining that government alone cannot take care of the loss. These types of risks are better taken care of commercially,” Ladipo-Ajayi stressed.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Insurance, Mr. Fola Daniel has clarified that only those having valid fire insurance for their properties would get compensation from the industry while others would have to wait to benefit from any emergency relief programme of the government.
Daniel explained that the insurance industry and operators do not constitute an emergency relief organisation and as such only those of their customers who insured their houses validly for fire would be adequately compensated for flood damage.
The commissioner said that under the insurance contract, flood perils are covered under fire insurance for properties and any building that is properly insured for against fire risks is as well protected against flood damages.
Daniel, however, ruled out any compensation for those other Nigerians without any valid insurance for their properties who are affected by flood across the nation.
“We are not an emergency relief organisation. For those who insured their houses for fire and flood perils, they will get full compensation. But for others, they will get handout from the Federal and State government,” he said.