Lessons to learn from the Lagos and Port Harcourt fire disasters

Fire disasters have remained a major human catastrophe not only in Nigeria but the world over. However the frequency of its occurrence has become alarming. In recent times, the number of lives and the value of properties lost to fires in Nigeria have become a huge cause for concern. Barely two months after the tragic Ojodu-Berger tanker explosion in Lagos, which claimed over fifty vehicles and a dozen of lives, another devastating fire incident occurred on Thursday, August 30, 2018, in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.

It seems no lesson has been learnt from previous disasters. It was reported that hundreds of commercial shops, a church, a hotel, an event centre and other domestic buildings were lost to the blistering fuel tank fire in the busy commercial/residential area of Port Harcourt. 1 These losses experienced have been estimated to be worth billions of Naira; a massive financial loss which unfortunately will go uncompensated. According to the Fire Disaster Prevention 2 and Safety Awareness Association of Nigeria, fire disasters occurring between 2012 to 2017 have destroyed an estimated N 6 trillion worth of properties across the country. In addition to the loss of lives and properties from fire disasters, there are other indirect socioeconomic impacts, such as the loss of business income, unemployment, and the huge cost of property repairs amongst others. For example, one of the victims of the Port Harcourt inferno lost his huge welding workshop and equipment to the disaster. The fortitude to start all over again for this single victim, who may b e w i t h o u t f i n a n c i a l recourse, can only be left imagined.

This is where insurance would come to his aid. Yet with records o f m u l t i p l e d e a d l y f i r e incidents in Nigeria in the last decade, those who are lucky to have escaped t h e s e devastations are y e t  t a k e insurance to serve as a means of financial p r o t e c t i o n. 3 Following the Ojodu-Berger tanker explosion, the Nigerian I n s u r e r s Association (NIA) discovered that the ill-fated tanker was not even insured with the compulsory third party insurance coverage, which is the minimum requirement for every vehicle using a public road as mandated by law in Nigeria. In fact, only 22 of the 54 vehicles that were destroyed had the required third party insurance and only seven vehicles of the fifty-four destroyed, were comprehensively insured. This revelation from the NIA means that apart from the seven victims with comprehensive insurance, the owner of the petrol tanker would carry the financial burden of compensating the 22 victims which a third-party insurance policy would have saved them from.

That is not all, the owner is also liable to face the legal consequence of breaking the law. The implication of the lack of insurance covers is that the owners of the destroyed vehicles have to bear the cost of replacing them. Ideally, with insurance, these financial losses could easily have been recovered without a long trail of unrecoverable losses. Although no one likes to think of being a victim of any fire outbreak, it does not foreclose the reality that it can happen at any time, so it is only wise one protects oneself and assets against such huge financial losses. The good news is that there are institutions that can help with these smart steps. With over 45 years in delivering exceptional financial protection services to Nigerians, Leadway Assurance has been in the forefront of helping Nigerians and Nigerian businesses recover from losses brought about by fires and other disastrous events. For instance, in 2017, Leadway paid the sum of N27.4 billion in compensations to its customers who suffered various losses, thereby helping them to bounce back quicker. Leadway’s claims paid in the last 5 years has been the Nigerian insurance industry’s largest, according to industry analysts. Leadway Assurance has two insurance policies that protects your financial interest and helps you recover from the loss or damage of your vehicle; a third-party liability and medical outcomes as a result of a fire disaster. They are known as the Leadway Auto Plan and Leadway Third Party Car Insurance.

The Leadway Auto Plan is a comprehensive motor insurance policy designed to provide a broad range of benefits for any level of insurance cover you purchase on your vehicle(s). It covers loss or damage by fire as well as accidental damage to the vehicle of the insured and damage to third party vehicles/ properties, third-party personal injury or death arising as a result of any accident from the use of the insured vehicle(s).

The Leadway Third-Party Motor Insurance on the other hand, is a more affordable and convenient car insurance option that provides unlimited cover benefits in the events of death or bodily injury to a third party arising from the insured car. For a premium as low as N 5000, you are covered for up to N1million for damages to vehicles or properties belonging to a third party. With this product, all third party damages or loss resulting from accidents caused by your vehicle would be covered by Leadway Assurance.

Don’t leave your life and asset to luck, protect them with Leadway Assurance. To find out more about our auto insurance policies, please call (01) 2800 700, or 2800701, 08129997003 or send an email to: Lcs@leadway.com for more details.

Terms and conditions apply. 1. “Church, hotel, shops razed as tanker explodes in Rivers”, vanguardngr.com, 2018 2.   “Fire Outbreak Costs Nigeria N6trn in 5 Years “, leadership.ng, 2017 3.   “Otedola Tanker Explosion: 7 Insured Vehicles To Get Insurance Claims”, leadership.ng, 2018

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