By Jude Njoku

“How can we ensure equity in premium calculation? Should we have flat premium or should premium be influenced by the location asset? How can the insurance industry enhance efficiency in the enforcement of compulsory insurance products in the construction sector”?

These were some of the posers raised by the Assistant Director (Inspectorate), National Insurance Commission, NAICOM, Mr S.C Onyeka at the third annual distinguished lecture series organised by the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, NIQS in Lagos on Thursday.

Mr Onyeka who spoke on Construction Sector Compliance with the Insurance Act 2003 -The Role of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, called for collaboration with the various stakeholders to create massive awareness and enforcement of the Insurance Act.

Mr Onyeka explained that as part of on-going market development and restructuring initiative, NAICOM commenced active enforcement of compulsory insurance products in September, 2010.

“Among the compulsory insurance products slated for enforcement at this time are public buildings and buildings under construction. The success of the initiative as it relates to the construction sector will to a large extent, depend on the support and collaboration of stakeholders in the sector,” he said.

Specifically, Mr Onyeka who stood in for the Commissioner for Insurance, Mr Fola Daniel said NAICOM will collaborate with the Council for the Registered Builders in Nigeria, CORBON, the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, NIESV, and the NIQS as well as relevant stakeholders to ensure strict compliance with the provisions of the building insurance act.

Mr Onyeka who regretted the absence of uniform building construction legislation in the country, argued that the scenario has led to poor housing delivery and inefficient town planning departments. According to him, approvals are given by planning authorities without regard to safety and due process.

Canvassing the proper enforcement of sections 64 and 65 of the Insurance Act 2003, the NAICOM Assistant Director, said the objective of the law is to protect site workers and members of the public who may come into contact with the building under construction from the risk of collapse. “Until now, site workers and other members of the public who lost their lives or suffered injury or loss of property received no compensation and left at the mercy of uninsured owners of such buildings who in most cases never pay anything as compensation,” he said.

Immediate past Imo state Commissioner for Planning and Economic Development, Sir Levi Oguike who peeped into the archives, noted that the burnt Republic building, NITEL plaza and Investment House were all victims of under insurance. According to him, only quantity surveyors are in a position to determine the cost of the substructure. ‘Insurance people must come to quantity surveyors unless they want to put a nominal value on the substructure,” he said.

Mr Oguike who was the chairman of the Habitat Committee in the 5th House of Representatives, explained that the cost model or cost plan put together by quantity surveyors will capture all the elements needed in building insurance cover.

The NIQS President, Mr Ajele John Alufohai, President, Quantity Surveyors Registration Board of Nigeria, QSRBN, Mallam Hussaini Adamu Dikko (who chaired the lecture) and the chairman, Lagos chapter of the NIQS, Mr Tijani Lasisi also reinforced the primary role of quantity surveyors in the valuation/costing of buildings for insurance purposes.

President of the Federation of Construction FOCI, Engr Mobolaji Williams who was represented by a Director in FOCI, Engr Fidelis Imosili hailed the recapitalization of insurance companies because it has enhanced their ability to take up insurance cover of construction companies who have heavy duty equipment worth billions of Naira.

“We at FOCI welcome the Act because when you are covered, people working with you and the public are also covered. When you are a builder and you don’t take up insurance cover, you are carrying your own risk,” he said.

Engr Imosili advised underwriters to explain from onset, some hidden and ambiguous clauses which pose problems during claims settlement.

“We are interested in the longevity of structures; we don’t just give you a building, we bother about how the building serves you. We are not so eager about claims but about building standards,” Imosili said.

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