Itravelled from Benin to Lagos last weekend. That road is one of the busiest routes in Nigeria. With heavy traffic and sometimes reckless driving comes accidents. The first incident I noticed was a bus that was completely burnt. There is a high probability that it did not have a functional fire extinguisher, the first line of protection. Most motor fires start like a candle light, so it is easy to extinguish the fire. Some transport companies only take Motor (Third Party) Insurance, which only protects them against liabilities arising out of third party death, bodily injuries and third party property damage. It does not cover own damage or losses. If that is the case, the owner of the bus, he has inadvertently become his own insurer.
The second incident was an accidental collision at Ore. Both vehicles were in the culvert. I did not witness the accident, so I do not know the negligent party. The negligent party will either own up or the police will visit the accident scene and write their report, which should give us an idea of who was at fault. The insurance scenarios in this case are: the third party section of a comprehensive policy or motor (third party) insurance policy of the negligent party will take care of the vehicle of the innocent party to the tune of N1m. Anything above N1m will revert to the negligent party. But if the innocent party has a comprehensive motor insurance policy, it is better for him to go to his insurance company and get full relief (get his vehicle fixed). Having paid the claim for the damaged vehicle, the insurance company of the innocent party may decide to go after the negligent party to recoup the money they have paid in claim to the innocent party. This is called subrogation in insurance. Usually, the insurance company of the negligent party will reimburse the insurance company of the innocent party to the tune of N1m. This is the usual limit of liability for third party damage, unless the negligent party paid additional premium and increased the limit on his policy.
If the innocent third party suffered bodily injuries, it is better for him to get relief from the insurance of the third party. This is because he will get more relief there than his own policy and that is if he has a comprehensive motor insurance, which carries fixed sums ( for example, N300,000) for personal accidents.
The next accident is mind-blowing. It was a multiple accident involving petroleum product tankers and other articulated vehicles. I did not have time to make sense of the accident scene, coupled with the fact that the charred remains of the vehicles had been cleared off the road to ease traffic. The accident actually occurred two Wednesdays ago. From experience, many owners do not do comprehensive insurance for their articulated vehicles and petroleum tankers and even when they do, the petroleum product (petrol, kerosene and diesel) they are conveying is not covered. What I advise clients, who do not like to do comprehensive motor insurance, is to increase the limit of third party property damage substantially. While they are still exposed for own damage, this ensures that their exposure for third party damage is substantially reduced. In this particular incident, the negligent party liability for third party property damage might be in excess of N100m.
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One of the burnt vehicles was carrying a container of goods. Everything was burnt. What happens if the owner of the goods is unable to get relief from the negligent party that caused the accident? He will be left to lick his wounds. But this need not be so if he took a goods-in-transit (GIT) insurance. A GIT policy covers the goods of the policyholder against fire, theft or accidental damage while the goods are being loaded or unloaded, as well as, while the goods are in transit by road, rail or inland motorways, water, air, or whilst temporarily warehoused within the general course of transit. So, if he took an all-risk GIT cover, he will be fully covered for his losses to the limit of indemnity per carriage.
The last two accidents I saw were in Ogun State. The first one was by the major dumpsite on the expressway. An articulated vehicle fell on a saloon car. I also do not know what happened, but it will be difficult for the driver of the articulated vehicle, considering their notoriety for recklessness and intimidation of smaller vehicles on the road, to prove his innocence. I am hopefully assuming no one died, so it should be a simple case of paying for the treatment of occupants of the saloon car, who suffered bodily injuries (if any). The insurers of the articulated vehicle will also be liable to the tune of N1m for repairs of the saloon car. But if the damage is more than N1m and the guilty party extended the limit for third party damage beyond N1m, the insurers might be liable for the full repairs of the saloon car. If it did not and N1m cannot fix the car, it will be better for the owner of the saloon car to claim from his insurance company, if his motor insurance is comprehensive.
In the last incident, the accident scene had been cleared before I got there, but I saw a damaged motorcycle with lots of blood on the spot. At least one person probably lost his life. The third party liability for death is unlimited, but the insurance company of the negligent party will use parameters like the age of the deceased and his annual earnings before death to work out compensation for the family.
One thing a trip on Lagos-Benin Expressway (and some other busy Nigerian roads, I guess) brings to fore is the need for insurance: motor, goods-in-transit, personal accident and life insurance. You never know on that road. Any of these insurances can easily come handy either for your benefit or for the benefit of your loved ones. Tough talk? Yes, but that is the reality.