By Ekerete Olawoye
Gam-Ikon, MNIM, CPP
Living with crises of economic, political and social dimensions can be overwhelming for a family, organisation and nation, notwithstanding the justice system, especially when everything is coloured by insecurity. The focus is often on the hard road to negotiate and secure a position that seems safe for both the assailants and victims but how about the soft solutions to the issues that created these crises in the first place?
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A cursory review of the historical developments of the crises reveal that we were all trying to deal with “the fear of tomorrow” at different stages of our lives. While insurance still remains the single most used solution for addressing those fears, rather than promote it, financial advisers encourage accumulation of cash and investment in real estate, yet without the protection that insurance provides.
Fear increased, unfortunately, as we watched personal and collective wealth get easily attacked and destroyed while more efforts were put in recovering and replacing what had been lost through the same means they were gotten in the first place. Protecting the wealth, ill-gotten or not, was not the option and we have just continued in the cycle because we will do only what we know.
Only a few knew and were willing to take the seemingly long and winding insurance route. Very many of us still live in ignorance of it and easily complain that insurance companies are not doing enough to educate and enlighten the populace; they have their reasons.
For example, two persons who were in good and secured employment over twenty-five years ago have interesting stories to share with us.
The first is a gentleman who served in the public sector at federal level and retired with a reasonable wealth to show in properties, investment in stocks and four children that graduated from foreign universities. Yet, he is still “hustling” because his pension and annuity cannot support his lifestyle and his investments are not fetching good returns due to the bad season, while he has to help get good jobs for the last two children. Fear dominates his life and he is tempted to join his friends in politics.
The other, a lady that had an accomplished career in the oil industry, equally retired with fantastic evidence of her achievements in huge investments in financial instruments through local and foreign banks, blue chip stocks and a beautiful family that does not have to depend on her. However, a loved one in the family had been critically ill and receiving treatment that had already taken huge part of her investment. Fear reigned as she found herself getting to seek avenues for income generation to ensure the rest of her life will not be dependent on her children.
Hearing these stories, naturally makes one wonder about the average and below average families amongst us, and why “hustling” has since become a recurring part of our lives, no matter where you had been. However, the leveller that remains ignored by many of us, irrespective of class and standing, is INSURANCE!
Putting insurance first
Are there solutions that insurance would have provided in the stories shared? Yes.
Just to mention a couple of them:
• Invest in a Life policy that will create a starting point for your child after university rather than putting all the money in stocks;
• Take up a Family Plan that gives your loved ones the needed sense of protection and assurance if anything happens as you stray into the murky waters of politics;
• Critical Illness can come upon anyone at any time, so when you can afford it, get the appropriate insurance that will give you or your loved ones access to medical care at relatively minimal cost.
Lest you think insurance is only available to people with good paying jobs, it has become available, affordable and accessible, thanks to the introduction of microinsurance.
This form of insurance does not only recognise that many people would not have money to pay for the full period of one year but also enables us to pay for what we use, in terms of time.
The times we live in are too risky for us to seek to have bank accounts to lodge our monies, from where we do investments in properties and stocks; insurance should come first.
Young people are better favoured by insurance calculations, like many other things in life. Taking a Life cover at the age of 25 for 25 years, simply positions you to be wealthier in your latter years.
Insurance may sound archaic, illogical and complex due to what you have heard, or even experienced, but that is the way of the things that keep us safe and secure. The difference will always be in the way it is packaged, advertised and served.
Technology and digitisation can only help take insurance beyond the imaginations of young people when they come into contact with it but after the years have gone by and the old person wants his/her claims paid, realities set in and any ingenuities employed evaporate to allow settlements and payments of claims.
Once, I told an audience of young entrepreneurs and insurers, “Insurance works when claims are paid” and there was no argument over the statement.
If we can, using the financial inclusion strategy, encourage more young people in Nigeria today to have relevant insurance policies and get acquainted with asking questions and getting answers, we will be solving tomorrow’s problems with less fear and less militancy.
Fear breeds the ills we see in our society but insurance offers peace of mind and restores value.
When you begin to study our environment closely and understand the essence of insurance, you will appreciate how futile life can be without it, irrespective of your accomplishments.
Subscribe to financial information channels that provide tips on insurance, pensions and financial management. You will need one today, tomorrow and importantly, share your knowledge with generations until we learn to live above crises.
Even when your employer, whether in the public or private sector, has placed you in its group insurance program, do not rest on your oars, get to be familiar with the terms and conditions of the program because you will need them later in life.
Getting familiar, early in your working life, with financial jargons and practices can be more valuable later than gaining access to be called a worker or an employee.
My word for the governments at all levels is: Be deliberate about taking away what puts fear in people and promote living with peace of mind via insurance. The survival of the private sector has been often attributed to the support from the insurance industry through payments of claims.
Insurance was created out of fear by early merchants to ensure peace before and after crises, so the more Nigerians embrace insurance, the more likely we are able to gravitate towards peaceful livelihood.
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