By ZAKA KHALIQ
As the flood continues to cause havoc across the country, owners of properties affected by the deluge and storms in Lagos and Benue States have been compensated by insurers to the tune of about N5billion, LEADERSHIP has exclusively learnt.
While insurers have paid most victims who had earlier submitted the necessary documentation in Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Lekki, Ajah and other areas of Lagos, others who processed their claims later are on the verge of getting their claims.
And with the rainy season still here, there are serious indications that more claims on flood insurance policy might still come before the year runs out.
This, LEADERSHIP learnt, was a huge increase from about N200 million claims made by flood policyholders in 2016.
Market observers said this increase was the effect of climate change which is increasing ocean surge and water levels, thus making rivers overflow their banks, reigning havoc on people and properties along river lines.
And with insurers willing to pay the claims despite that it is huge, analysts believe underwriters are now alive to their civic responsibility of paying genuine claims as and when due, while also believing there is a gradual increase in the number of insurance subscribers.
It was gathered that the reason for such high claims in Lagos could be connected to the fact that the areas affected are housed by educated and informed people who value insurance.
It was also learnt that most of the claims made are on household items and buildings, while companies made claims on damaged buildings, expensive machines and office items affected by the flood.
The story is, however, different in Markurdi, the Benue State capital, where the flood took place almost the same time, as majority of houses and farmlands affected have no form of insurance cover.
Only few farmlands, according to findings, have agric insurance purchased from Nigeria Agriculture Insurance Commission (NAIC) and some insurance outfits.
To this end, there was not much claims from those areas even as majority of them are unaware of the existence of flood insurance policy.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP, the Managing Director of Linkage Assurance Plc, Mr. Pius Apere, said while those properties affected by flood in Lagos have insurance cover because most of the property owners were elitists, most of the flood victims in Benue State are poor people who may have never heard of insurance or don’t value insurance.
He urged insurance companies to increase awareness, especially at the grassroots so that people will not have to be waiting on government for assistance whenever disasters like flood occur.
Apere said, “Insurance companies have to do more to increase awareness because most people always affected by flood and special perils are not elitists, they are poor people. Everybody always believes it cannot happen, but now it has happened.
“So, insurers need to go to the grassroots to increase awareness in this regard. People must be aware that they are going to get certain amount when they insure with a small premium compared to the claims that will come out of that policy”.
On his part, the national president, Association of Registered Insurance Agents of Nigeria (ARIAN), Mr. Gbadebo Olameru, said while the activities of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is commendable during flooding among other mishaps, insurance remains the only viable risk mitigation mechanism as it returns the victims back to the position he was before the disaster struck.
Government assistance, he pointed out, is only meagre compared to what insurers would pay as claims, advising Nigerians to always insure their assets and lives, because natural disasters don’t announce when it will strike.
Olameru said his association is embarking on an insurance awareness across the country to sensitise Nigerians on Fire insurance and Special Perils, which includes riots and flood.
“If government, NGOs or individuals assist victims of natural disasters, they will only give them meagre that will not be enough, but insurance will return you back to the position you were before the flood, with a token premium”, he pointed out.
For the Managing Director, Law Union and Rock Insurance PLC, Mr. Jide Orimolade, the rates charged on flood insurance varies from one area to the other, noting that the rate which insurance companies will charge residents of Victoria Island would be higher than that of people residing in Ikeja area of Lagos.
Earlier, the Chairman of Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA), Mr. Eddie Efekoha, had confirmed that insured victims have started turning in their claims to the insurance companies where their properties were insured.
He said flood is often an extension of fire cover, adding that most insurance companies do offer the cover for free, especially in areas not prone to flood.
According to the 2015 NIA Insurance Digest, over 20 claimants filed flood claims in 2015, amounting to over N168.44 million. The report revealed that International Energy Insurance Plc, paid the largest claim of N23.11 million, followed by Ensure Insurance Plc, which paid N22.56 million.
Meanwhile, insurance firms are now increasing premium rates for flood insurance by 50 per cent in response to increased flooding incidences across the country.
The increase is connected to the massive claims that besieged insurance operators, especially after floods in Lekki area of Lagos.