By Dipo Olowookere
Nigeria’s insurance sector is estimated to be losing about N60 billion annually, as only 25 per cent of registered vehicles in the country carry genuine third party motor insurance policies, The Guardian exclusively learnt.
This is aside the billions of Naira also lost to the sector on comprehensive motor insurance, which requests that 10 per cent of the cost of a vehicle be paid as yearly premium.
Data obtained from the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) shows that only four million of the 16 million registered vehicles in the country have third party insurance cover. This leaves a balance of 12 million vehicles either uninsured or parading fake insurance papers.
Third Party Insurance is the least cover required by law. It comes at a fixed price of N5,000 for private and N7,500 for commercial vehicles, and covers damages caused by the insured vehicle to other road users including property in the event of an accident.
Section 38 of the National Insurance Act 2003, currently in use, states that Third Party Motor Insurance is required as part of the minimum amount of auto cover you must carry as a car owner. Penalties for non-compliance can include a fine of up to N250, 000 and or one-year imprisonment.
On the other hand, the comprehensive insurance covers the cost of damages to the insured vehicle as well as to other third party road users and property.
There are about 118 insurance and five reinsurance companies registered in Nigeria, which provide covers for the public.
Further investigation shows that most of the motorists flaunting insurance papers did not obtain them at the Vehicle licensing offices, a unit of the Vehicle Inspection Offices (VIO), even as there are touts who market the fake insurance covers especially to the commercial vehicles at the parks and garages.
The fake insurance covers are sold for between N300 to N1,000, supposedly issued by insurance firms that do not exist. Due to ignorance and lack of knowledge of the benefits of buying original insurance covers, most commercial drivers go for the fake insurance because it is cheap, to avoid the wrath of the law enforcement agents.
Other uninsured motorists, it was learnt, prefer to settle their way out either with law enforcement agents or when an accident occurs.
A Lagos driver, who identified himself as Segun, told The Guardian that he got his fake insurance cover from the old licensing office along GRA, Ikeja, Lagos, saying that is where he and most of his colleagues buy their vehicle insurance.
When asked the name of his insurer, he said: “The name on my insurance certificate is Pacific Insurance.” But there is no firm bearing such a name among the registered insurance companies.
Speaking on the incidence of fake insurance covers, the VIO Spokesperson, Lagos State, Gbolahan Toriola, insisted that the agency does not condone such illegal acts, adding that any of its personnel caught marketing and selling fake insurance is immediately penalised.
“So, if anybody has issues with a policy that he or she obtained in any of our licensing offices, he or she should go back to that office and identify the staff. In Lagos State, we don’t condone that, what we want is for people to obey the law. Any staff caught will face disciplinary action and will be dismissed,” he said.
To reduce the number of fake vehicle insurance on Nigerian roads, he said, the VIO has partnered with the NIA, to access its Nigerian Insurance Industry Database (NIID), adding that, through the database, motorists can confirm whether the insurance they obtained is a fake or not.
Through the NIID, he said, the number of genuine insurance among motorists has increased. “Before now, when you stop 100 vehicles, you hardly see 10 of them having genuine insurance certificates. But now, I can tell you that when you stop 20 vehicles, you can see 10 to 15 of them having genuine insurance because of our enforcement and enlightenment exercise, which we have done with NIA.”
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