Chiamaka Ajeamo, [email protected]
As the nation, through its various sectors, corporate bodies, philanthropists and organizations, continues to support and donate towards the fight to contain the global scourge, COVID-19, the insurance industry, likewise, is not relenting on its oars towards eradicating the coronavirus.
Perhaps, it is interesting to note that the statement made by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, that there is “the need for all Nigerians to play a role in this fight cannot be understated as we are quite literally in the fight of our lives. I must highlight the fact that this is not just about bringing money. Your time, your services, your products will all be helpful,” has indeed put every Nigerian on his/her toe in the coronavirus war.
In this light, insurers, under the umbrella of the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA), have announced a donation of N1 million free life insurance cover for each health personnel and allied professionals attending to COVID 19 patients.
The association also revealed that members volunteered to acquire testing kits and protective materials worth over N100 million for medical personnel so as to combat its spread in Nigeria.
The association Chairman, Mr Tope Smart, who disclosed this at a media briefing in Lagos, said this was part of the NIA’s support to the ongoing efforts by the Federal Government through the presidential task force , the state governments, Ministry of Health and Nigerian Centre for Disease Control to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
“Our intervention will, therefore, be in two folds. Arrangements are on to procure testing kits and protective materials for the use of medical personnel saddled with this responsibility. The materials will be delivered to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) when ready.
“In line with our profession as risk managers, NIA has decided to arrange a special life insurance cover for all health personnel and allied professionals who are attending to victims of COVID-19.
Explaining how the health workers would benefit ,he said:
“We have, therefore, decided to provide the following benefits to those who may be exposed to the following risks in the course of their duties: these benefits apply to all medical personnel all over the nation. The benefits are, N1 million to health workers who die in the course of discharging their duties in fighting the virus, and N1 million for permanent disability on the part of health personnel.”
He noted that NIA was doing this because it understands the fact that the frontline staff were exposed to a lot of risks and as an association, it felt the need to provide cover for them against their exposures.
Speaking on how to deliver these aids, he said, “We shall be liaising with Ministry of Health, NCDC and the state governments to provide us with detailed information about these personnel so we can arrange appropriate cover.”
Furthermore, Smart noted that premium for the free life cover would be paid by all insurers while the cover will be provided by life underwriters; stressed that the gesture does not prevent individual insurance companies from making their personal contributions towards the fight.
He gave assurance that insurers, on their part would ensure the activation of business continuity and disaster recovery strategies by providing the necessary support for the wellbeing of employees, clients and other stakeholders during this scourge.
While advising Nigerians to adhere to the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and other government agencies and institutions as they relate to efforts to curbing the disease; he implored policyholders to report to the association any insurance company that defaulted on paying claims, whilst calling on the public to leverage insurance to mitigate their risks.
This news was received with much gladness by the insurance stakeholders as it is coming barely a week, they set agenda for operators on the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will be recalled that last week, the Nigerian insurance industry stakeholders have said they expect a lot from operators at this disastrous time in abating the effects of the pandemic as their foreign counterparts were helping in their various countries to support the fight.
Hence, in a chat with Daily Sun, Director, Business Development, Danslei Nigeria Limited and former Manager, Marketing, Anchor Insurance, Dr Uzoma Ofurum, had said: “Life insurance companies should extend and add free of charge Coronavirus related coverages for people to obtain. This will drive sales by 30 per cent, as many people will quickly take advantage of it to buy life insurances.
“Insurance companies should introduce products for medical doctors and other medics exposed to risks during this pandemic and they should make contributions to National Centre for Disease Control for more test kits and equipment to combat this epidemic and since we are talking about social distancing, insurance sales forces should be re-engineered to work more on digital platforms.”
Reacting to this development, an Insurance consultant and expert, Mr. Ekerete Gam-Ikon, said the involvement and donations made by the NIA towards the fight against coronavirus was a great news.
Gam-Ikon said: “I am happy to be associated with the changing face of the insurance industry in Nigeria. I applaud every insurance company that supported and gave to this course however, more work lies ahead for the sector.”
Other measures taken by insurance companies on COVID-19
In similar development, as part of measures to combat the spread of the virus and also be effective during the 14 days lockdown, the various insurance firms in the country have implemented their company’s business continuity strategy.
In line with this, Linkage Assurance Plc said it has activated its online platforms to serve customers and ensure continuity of operations during the period of lockdown over COVID 19 pandemic.
A statement by the company’s Customer Service Department disclosed this adding that the company remains accessible through her e-commerce website, www.linkageassurance.com for self-service and assistance to renew policy, purchase insurance covers and report claims.
For Royal Exchange Plc, the Group Managing Director (GMD) Royal Exchange group, Wale Banmore, said it has enforced its second phase in its strategy to combat the virus and this includes; its staff working from home and other remote locations for business continuity and to offer services to our various clients nationwide, suspension of all official events/functions until further notice, offering services via all our e-channels – website, live chat, emails and telephone calls – to consummate business transactions.
On its part, Great Nigeria Insurance Plc, said its business continuity strategy is hinged on safeguarding the health, wellbeing and safety of the lives of its esteemed customers and workforce while ensuring the continuity of operations during the lockdown period.
The Managing Director/CEO of Great Nigeria Insurance, Mrs. Cecilia Osipitan, said:
“In a bid to stay true to our commitment of delivering quality service to our valued customers, alternative service channels have been made available for seamless access to all insurance products and services available under the stable of GNI Plc. On your mobile please explore our USSD Platform by dialing *5076# for self-service, easy premium remittance, policy renewal and prompt claims settlement”.
Other insurance firms such as; Anchor, African Alliance, Staco, Consolidated Hallmark Insurance have also communicated the measures they have adopted towards eradicating the spread of the virus as well as their mode of operations during the 14 days lockdown.
In all, they implored Nigerians stay safe during this period while ensuring to observe all the precautionary measures advised by the government and relevant health authorities.