Compulsory Insurance: Why Owners of Public Buildings Must Be Prosecuted

Dear Co-Lockdowners,

How are we coping with the COVID-19 pandemic experience, most especially the ‘assumed’ lockdown and slow-pace in business activities across states in Nigeria?  Given the recent closure of many public buildings and educational institutions, it is imperative that we take our time to learn and know about some associated risks involved in the existence and continued visitations to these buildings without proper insurance coverage by the owners.

#DidYouKnow Filling stations, Car Dealers, Plazas, Schools and other public buildings are by law (Nigerian Insurance Act of 2003) required to have at least public liability Insurance?

Growing up, I have had to ask my parents why public buildings are usually sited away from the crowded areas, their response was ‘Because, their business is risky and dangerous for human lives and health’. But today, what do we experience, public buildings and properties existing inside/beside residential buildings and even streets – Filling stations with inbuilt restaurants, filling stations with inbuilt car dealer shops, schools with inbuilt residential flats, Business plaza with clustered shops and highly flammable commodities, Bungalow buildings with gas dispensing shops (very common in Lagos) etc.

Have you ever imagined or been involved in a fire scare or outbreak at any of the above-mentioned places? What was your “response ticket” like? – Fear! Alarmed! Panic! Agitation!

No matter how we respond to the fright that comes with a risky incident, it will never change the fact that “these building/companies were approved and allowed to operate without any form of risk management measures in place. So, what is our responsibility as a citizen – Accountability. We need to start asking questions when:

  1. We visit or enroll a child/ward in a new/existing school
  2. We visit a plaza or business premises to transact or continuous patronage
  3. We need to use an event center for a programme (church/mosque or any other gatherings)
  4. We visit restaurants or filling stations to purchase foods or fuel
  5. We visit public buildings occupied by different companies

Also, more questions for the government would be – Are they aware of these errors in their town planning efforts? How are these buildings’ plans approved without proper consideration for the lives and properties of Nigerians? Who enforces and approves the siting of these proposed buildings before construction? How can the compulsory insurance initiative by NAICOM be fully implemented through NIA, NCRIB or any other agency?

These and many more questions that have been left unanswered prompts the need to push for individual and community enforcement of these insurance coverages.

As an owner or Estate manager of any of these public buildings, the following insurance policies are compulsory and necessary as a “shock absorber” for losses relating to your business operations, 3rd party accidental damages and interruption in business activities due to any of the insured losses. Policies like Motor Trade insurance for Car Dealers, Public liability for all public buildings/properties, fire, special perils and burglary for both SMEs and large corporations etc.

Why lose assets worth millions/billions of Naira when few thousands of Naira can save you from such losses? The cost of insurance is usually less than 1 per cent (< 1%) of the worth of an asset.

Let’s liberate our mindset towards accepting insurance as a necessity, so we can all as individuals, business owners and investors have peace of mind.

Acknowledgment

The author would like to thank and acknowledge the contributions made by Adebiyi Muhammed, a Team Lead, Schemes and Retail with YOA Insurance Brokers Limited in their Lagos office. He can be reached at muhammed.adebiyi@yoainsurance.com.