By ROSEMARY ONUOHA
Nigerians have been told to stop using poverty as an excuse for not having any form of insurance cover because the poor are more vulnerable to huge loss in the event of disaster.
Immediate past President of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria, Mr. Wole Adetimehin who made the assertion said that although poverty could be a factor, it cannot be a tenable excuse because the poorest class is the ones that need insurance most.
Adetimehin said “The poor need insurance most because should anything happen to them or should they suffer any loss, the chances of their recovery are slim. But if they have insurance, their hopes are high.
“In essence, from whatever income you earn, there must be a planned pattern of managing and spending, and such plans must include a level of saving from which you can always do some investment or do so many things. It is not ideal that somebody will be waiting for manner from heaven or until he can access loan or facility from the bank or a finance house before he could start a business or any venture. So for emergencies, there must be a reserve. Hence, poverty shouldn’t be an excuse, rather we should be preaching to people to get better organised and be operating a plan in whatever they do,” he said.
Adetimehin said that the poor insurance perception in the country has to do with the literacy level to a great extent, adding “What is the level of education and knowledge that people have? That is why the insurance industry will need to do a lot more in educating the Nigerian public. Even the so called elites hardly can appreciate how insurance works or the benefits. This may be peculiar to our environment because when some of these elites travel abroad, they comply with insurance requirements.”
Adetimehin therefore charged Nigerians to cultivate the habit of savings saying “If you can cultivate the habit of savings, it will help you in life. Insurance, which is a way of savings, is there for you too. Through insurance you can save for the future and for the training of your children (education insurance). The general public should shun the apathy towards insurance. It is one of those services in modern times that can always provide a relief or a solution to some of our problems.”
Adetimehin said that within the African continent, Nigeria cannot be seen as a country of the poorest set of people, then how come that insurance penetration or awareness in some African states are a lot better than Nigeria? “It is only because of our mindset here and not due to poverty, so we should de-emphasise poverty but promote insurance education and awareness,” he said.
He said that in recent times a lot of efforts are being put by insurance operators into widening micro insurance penetration through conscious efforts to spread insurance to the grassroots, the people on the streets, the market people, the artisans, and so on.
“People are being grouped into corporative societies and credit facilities are being offered to buy some of the equipment’s they needed for their trade and such equipment’s are being brought back to insurance firms providing the facilities to give insurance covers. It’s quite attractive, and is really gaining ground in the East, Lagos and Ondo States as well as in Abuja. It is not that the insurance sector has started promotion, where people are told to buy this and get that, No. Rather, it is sorts of suasion whereby you make people appreciate insurance,” Adetimehin said.
“If you go to the banks, you cannot get credit facility with ease. But insurance firms are coming up to say, ‘we can offer you facility, we can be partners in your business and you will get added protection by coming back to buy insurance,’ and you are secured,” he said.
He added that a lot of efforts are also being put into product development that will really address our cultural values, stating “For example, when our aged people die, we spend a lot on funeral rites. However, insurance has developed products that are being packaged to cater for funeral expenses. Also, it is common knowledge that we value the best education for our children, so a number of policies are there to take care of our children’s education.
But at the same time, the prospective buyers should begin to have a change of mind by addressing priorities that could be rewarding to their lives and families in their budget planning. Insurance has done quite a lot by making the products attractive and bringing added values that will attract the public. But the public reserve the right and decision to say ‘I want to buy it’, and one of the things they could do is to reorder their priorities. They need to reorder their priorities and cultivate the habit of savings and believe in the protection of their assets.
It’s high time we begin to get our priorities right and appreciate the value of insurance,” he said.