LAGOS – Despite heavy losses incurred by traders in Lagos in some recent major market fire outbreaks, many of the traders are still reluctant to insure their products and businesses, investigations by newsmen has indicated.
Over five major markets in Lagos have experienced fire outbreaks in the last one month, resulting in losses worth billions of naira.
however, in separate interviews with newsmen in Lagos, many of the traders said they would not insure their businesses because they believed that insurance companies were not sincere.
Mr Lekan Oguntunde, the market leader of Oluwagbemi Market in Lagos Island, said most insurance companies delayed in paying compensation over property insured whenever tragedy occurred.
“The experience of few of our members that registered with them is unpleasant.
“ These insurance companies are diligent in collecting premiums but when it is time for compensation, they will start demanding for unnecessary things.
“One of our members was asked to bring receipts for goods bought many years before the fire outbreak that gutted his shop,’’ Oguntunde recalled.
A victim of a recent fire outbreak at Ereko Market on Lagos Island, Mrs Remix Bakinson, said the confidence many Nigerians had in insurance companies, was gradually fading away.
Bakinson said she stopped insuring her business five years ago because she did not see the need for it.
“All that insurance people are concerned about is the collection of premiums, after that, nothing else.
“At least, they should be able to tell us what happens to the money if no losses are recorded after a period of time,” he said.
She however said she regretted not insuring her business, adding that she lost goods worth billions of naira in the fire outbreak.
Mr Silva Okereke, the Leader of fabric sellers at the same market, said he distrusted insurance companies because of their high premiums, especially, for comprehensive insurance.
According to Okereke, the insurance companies demand up to N500,000 per annum on business valued at N5 million.
“This is just too high; some of us collected loans from the bank to float our businesses and we are still repaying with interest.
“We pay almost five million naira per annum as rent on our shops; this is apart from other expenses.
“So, it will be good if insurance companies can bring down the premium they demand,’’ he said.
Also speaking to newsmen Mr Olanrewaju Onigemo, the Secretary General of Electronics Market Traders Association, Alaba, in Mile 12, Lagos, said the traders had not thought of insuring the market.
Onigemo said insurance operators had not been visiting them regularly.
“The last insurance company that was here came five years ago and we introduced the company to our members, afterwards we did not see them again.
“Our members lack enlightenment; they find it hard to inculcate other things into their business apart from buying and selling.
“Also, Insurance operators ask too many questions and are not sincere; so they can hardly get five out of 100 persons selling here at Alaba, to buy their policies.
“We learnt our lessons from people who took comprehensive insurance, if an insured car is involved in an accident today, the compensation will be paid after three  years,’’ Onigemo said.
He therefore, advised insurance companies to mobilise and penetrate the markets.
Mr Mohammed Abdul, Secretary General of Perishable Food Sellers Association at Mile 12 market, said it was wrong to force people to take an insurance policy.
Abdul said some traders had not taken up any insurance policy because of their religious beliefs.
He recalled that some insurance companies had come to the market to sell their products but most traders were not interested.
Reacting to those complaints, the President of the Nigeria Insurers Association (NIA), Mr Godwin Wiggle, said the association had taken measures to encourage people accept their policies, especially in micro-businesses.
“We have developed robust micro insurance products that will address the needs of market people.
“We have strategised and sensitised our members to enter Nigerian markets in full force,’’ Wiggle said.
He assured that the association would continue to improve on its enlightenment to reach out to people.
Also responding, Mr Ayodapo Shoderu, President, Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), said the council was working hard to promote high ethical standards among its members.
According to Shoderu, anything short of this was unacceptable, adding that the council will not defend any member that violates insurance broking operation standards.
he called for a partnership between the council and governments to embark on aggressive asset protection, through public enlightenment about risk prevention and control in major markets in the country.
“Let me reiterate the call for compulsory insurance for all Nigerian markets and public edifices, as enshrined in the legal provision under Insurance Act 2003 (section 64 and 65) of insurance of public buildings”, he said.