By ROSEMARY ONUOHA
All through the years, the general public has had the belief that insurance companies only exist to reap off the people. The refusal by insurance operators to be transparent in their operations led to increased negative public perception of them.
For a long time, underwriters were advised to improve on their products and service delivery, to build credibility. As this seems not to be forthcoming, insurance consumers have decided to come out and fight for their rights. To this end, the Insurance Consumers Association of Nigeria, INSCAN, has put forward their demands of how they must be treated by insurers going forward.
Number one on the list of demands which were recently released by the association states was – Give Us Transparent Reader- Friendly Contract wordings.
INSCAN said, “Your policy documents, being the evidence of the contact with us is full of discouraging and frustrating technical jargons that hardly would anybody read more than one page of the “hand out” which at times goes up to 30 pages before dropping same. We therefore make it categorically clear that we are tired of these intimidating words and expect all insurance companies in Nigeria to adapt their policy documents to the modern trends where the policy document starts with “meaning of words”, followed by “what is covered”, what is not covered and then the conditions guiding the contract with a claim form tucked into the folder at the back of the policy jacket. We expected this from you like yesterday.”
Number two demand is, “We Demand Truly Comprehensive Motor Insurance Cover -The 10% premium agreed by the market for comprehensive motor insurance is for about 15 benefits that are enjoyed by the insurance consumers in other parts of the world. Prominent among these are own damage, 3rd party liability, replacement car, loss of personal effect, personal accident cover etc.
In Nigeria, we are given 2 ½ benefits – own damage, 3rd party liability and usually N10, 000 towing expenses and N20, 000 medical expenses. Our position as consumers of insurance in Nigeria to your members who are under-cutting the rates is that even when you charge 2.5% for the benefits granted us, you are still reaping us off.
Another problem that we have with your comprehensive motor policy is that it is always depressing for our members to realize only at the time of claim that their comprehensive motor policy does not cover losses arising from riot, strike, civil commotion and flood unless they had specifically requested and paid for them before the loss.
We hereby request the governing council of the NIA to give us the full benefits of a truly comprehensive motor insurance policy on “a la carte” basis as from Jan 2014 and in the minimum, benefits like car replacement, vehicle tracker should be automatic as from 2014. Medical benefits should be increased to minimum of N100, 000 while the underwriters should bear the cost of towing an accidented vehicle to the repairer’s garage in full.”
Demand number three states, “We Also Demand Truly Comprehensive Householders Insurance. Where an occupied building is destroyed by fire or any of the extraneous perils, the insurer usually provides for loss of rent/ rent of alternative accommodation/ loss of use as the case may be pending the completion of renovation or for specified period of time. Accident and Life cover for domestic servants is also normally endorsed on a comprehensive householder’s insurance cover. We demand that this be provided for us as from 2014.
Demand number four is, “Stop Selling Ordinary Paper To Us As Insurance, while demand number five is “See Claims Payment As Our Right And Not A Favour.”
Demand number six states thus “Minimize the Claim Documentation and Investigation Process and Time,” while demand number seven is “Issue Your Discharge Voucher with Cheque.”
“Stop Using Us For Advert, Respect ‘Privity Of Contract,” is demand number eight, while number nine states thus “Your Business Only Reward Bad Customers, Do something To Reward The Good Customers Also.”
INSCAN concluded by asking insurance operators to “Do something for the Larger Society.” According to INSCAN, “In some other countries, the fire brigade of the insurance industry normally gets to the scenes of incidents even before that of the state. We see ambulances and towing vehicles that belong to the insurance industry in other countries.
Apart from being of service to the larger society, these facilities also help in loss reduction to the insurance industry itself. We expect the governing councils of the Nigerian Insurers Association, NIA, and Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers, NCRIB, to show Nigerians how they want to contribute to safety of lives and properties in general as the insurance industry in Nigeria.”