We’re Not Forced to Contribute Money to Combat COVID-19, Say Insurance Operators

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Insurance operators have debunked recent allegation that they were compelled to contribute N10 million each towards the ongoing fight against Coronavirus pandemic.

The insurers, under the umbrella of the Nigeria Insurers Association (NIA), said the report by an online medium that their regulator, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), compelled them to make the donation was embarrassing insisting that their decision to contribute towards the fight against spread of Coronavirus was purely voluntary and not under compulsion as reported by the medium.

The 57 insurance firms in the country, under the auspices of their umbrella body, the Nigeria Insurers Association (NIA), had recently announced donation of N1000,000 free life insurance cover to each of the health workers participating in the ongoing fight against the Coronavirus in any part of the country.

According to the insurers, the life insurance cover will cost N5 billion.

They also donated personal protection equipment to the health workers as well as testing kits.

Shortly after this, an online medium report alleged that the insurers were each compelled by the regulator, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) to pay N10 million each for the project.

But in a swift reaction to this, the NIA Chairman, Mr. Tope Smart, in a statement to this effect, condemned the allegation describing it as falsehood.

Smart who is also the Managing Director of NEM Insurance Plc, explained that the association, decided to align with the private sector to support the efforts and initiatives of the Presidential Task Force, state governments, Ministry of Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to contain the spread of COVID19-19 by contributing to a fund to provide N1 million life insurance cover and procure testing kits and protective materials for the use of medical personnel saddled with the responsibility to the tune of about N100 million.

He said: “What happened is that we called a press briefing where we announced that we are providing N1 million free life insurance cover for each health personnel and allied professionals in the country who are attending to victims of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and also procure testing kits, protective materials worth over N100 million.

“But the Acting Commissioner for Insurance, Mr. Sunday Thomas later called us that the Commission would want to join us to boost our plan, by also making contribution to the fund that we have set aside in order to increase the benefits provided under the planned scheme.

“We welcomed the development and at that point, we allowed the Commission to take the lead. We were happy that it then became an industry based project where other stakeholders in the industry can join the NIA”.

He noted that on their part, they had earlier agreed to intervene in two folds.
“We had arrangements to procure testing kits and protective materials for the use of medical personnel saddled with this responsibility. The materials were to be delivered to the NCDC.

“Also in line with our profession as risk managers, we agreed as an association to arrange a special life insurance cover for all health personnel and allied professionals who are attending to victims of COVID-19. We decided to provide Death and Permanent disability benefits to the frontline staff who are exposed to a lot of risks”, he added.