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Friday, November 25, 2022

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The Uninsured Vs The Insurance-less Among Us

Many Nigerians entered the New Year with anxiety and prayers over their lives and properties, especially because the elections were expected to come with violence that would lead to losses and damages. This seems normal.

Some decided to take the abnormal step to take up insurance, having become more informed and aware of the positive developments in the insurance sector, and are already enjoying a less anxious life even if they would not feel secured. Such insurances are of personal nature namely: Life, Health, Pensions, Mortgage, Children Education and Motor (mostly Third Party).

Unknown to most of us, insurance, which is basically the tool that helps us better manage the risks we live with, has now been put in a means (phone) that anyone can buy and it is available for as low as N20. Reputable insurers known to target organisations and governments are now quite keen to get you and me on their policyholders’ (customers’) database with increasingly incentivised product offerings. And importantly, their claims settlement process is becoming less stressful.

One is tempted to ask: Is it the turn of insurance?

May be! However, the industry players know that there is yet a lot of work to do to transform, shift and engage the minds of Nigerians, mostly diehards, who ‘see, hear and speak no evil’ when it comes to insurance. We live and work with them. We have been discussing their insurance needs with them for decades but they would rather spend their earnings to replace and repair any asset damaged or lost except the human lives.
They do not have insurance of any form, yet we have not stopped sending updates to them with a view to changing their position on insurance. They are, simply, uninsured!

Interestingly, these ones do not tell others about their position and therefore do not discourage others from taking up insurance. This is because most people, inadvertently, believe they are too successful and prosperous to be insured.

Yes, they are prosperous; they own properties in the best parts of Lagos, Abuja and other major Nigerian cities. The banks, stockbrokers, lawyers and property consultants also banter with them regularly until something goes amiss when they are ill prepared. And the source of prosperity becomes weak leading to some real challenging times. Subsequently, we do not get to hear much about them and their businesses. Could insurance have saved them from the threat and probable demise? Yes.

The uninsured as you would also have concluded are persons and organisations that can afford to do (take up and pay for) insurance but refuse to because they usually believe they have enough not to need insurance!

Could it also be that such people keep more cash at home than in the banks? And buy properties more directly from landowners than through property consultants? Commonly, the uninsured transmit their non-believing nature to their heirs and successors who bear and share the stories when we meet them.

The uninsured are hard to break as insurance players have discovered and do not count them as immediate opportunity even as the image of insurance is lifted up.

More attention is turned to the Insurance-less among us who constitute the greater population of Nigeria. They are found within the unstructured informal segment of our economy and are more exposed to the risks we live with, thus needing more protection through insurance yet lacking any knowledge of the subject as a potent tool for risk management.

Sadly, we do not visit them as much as the uninsured, so they hardly know us and we do not know them. They are ready to participate in the broader economy and be counted as contributors to the development of a new Nigeria.

Despite the positive changes that the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has recorded, these Insurance-less Nigerians are far from engaged towards insurance and seek more education about the subject and business. Some have expressed interest to know about it, however, the points of exchanging such knowledge are not readily available, at least not on the platforms that they connect and chat, not to mention the physical locations.

Visits to most insurance companies by the Insurance-less Nigerians are rebuffed by the Security Guard at the entrance or Receptionist as they are easily asked “Do you have an appointment with her?”

The Insurance-less Nigerians seek to be engaged but the insurance industry is yet eyeing the juicy insurance deals and taking a rather gradual step towards engagement.

My hope is that this will not be a case of ‘when I was ready, you were not ready’!

The conversations and actions regarding micro-insurance and Takaful (Islamic insurance) are welcome developments that should, expectedly, address the issues associated with engaging the Insurance-less Nigerians.

Now, I believe insurance operators have it; that is, the knowledge of the uninsured that they spend countless hours chasing and the Insurance-less amongst us that actually need their services.

Image Credit: Usnews

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