Insurance companies engaged by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) are currently taking stock of properties destroyed by hoodlums to ascertain the level of damage, following last week’s burning of the NPA headquarters in Lagos in the wake of the #EndSARS protests.
The Federal Government agency also asked its headquarters staff to remain at home until further notice.
Although the NPA is yet to issue a statement on the incident, eyewitnesses confirmed that the extent of the damage, which left both official and private vehicles as well as laptops destroyed by the inferno, was colossal.
The fire, which affected all six floors of the NPA building, has equally left hundreds of workers stranded as they are yet to know their fate with regards to returning to work.
“The only thing we were told is that workers should stay home until they get a directive or they are invited. There is a department called risk asset management that has to evaluate what must have got damaged. These ones are working because they can invite one or two persons in the department to come and ascertain the extent of the damage,” a staff of the NPA told SHIPS & PORTS on condition of anonymity.
When contacted, NPA spokesman, Adams Jatto confirmed that a consortium of insurance companies engaged by the authority are currently working with the relevant units of the agency to ascertain the extent of the damage caused by the inferno.
When asked if workers will be redeployed to other NPA branches, Jatto said, ”We are still trying to see what we can do but we have asked those at headquarters to remain at home while those who are needed to be at the scene of the incident for stock taking are already on ground. The insurance companies are also part of those on ground taking the stock.
“The simple fact that there was a curfew within that period and the place had to be cordon off by the military was the reason why we have not been able to issue a statement on the extent of the damage.
“As I speak now, what we are just trying to do is to take stock of damages done before we can now have a comprehensive statement. We cannot ascertain the number of vehicles and other properties destroyed until we are done with the stock taking.
“We are still counting our losses to see how we can bounce back but meanwhile, the incident has not disrupted port operations. Port operation is ongoing.”
Insurance experts have described the widespread looting and destruction of properties, vehicles and other assets across the country as huge loss for the insurance industry in Nigeria.
One of the insurance experts, Ndubuisi Onunwa, who spoke with SHIPS & PORTS, however assured that despite the loss that will be incurred by insurance companies, individuals and agencies who have renewed their policies and suffered losses would be entitled to claims.
He explained that insurance firms also pay for every cover that extends to riot adding that what most of the insurance firms do is to spread the risk with other insurance companies to enable them pay compensation when a loss occurs.
“If you insure your property and once there is a claim and evidence to back it, the insurance companies will take over the payment. Depending on the sum insured, an insurance firm can ascertain the value of the damage and restore it back to the same value where it was before the destruction occurred. If for example, NPA insured for N500 million and the damage is N500 million, automatically, the insurance company will take over.
“It is a huge loss to the insurance industry but that is why insurance is in the business of covering losses. If nothing has happened, of course they will make profit but now that a loss has occurred, it is a primary responsibility to compensate the owners of the property.
“That is why we advise people to always take up insurance policy on their assets because it is something that can happen unexpectedly and once it happens, automatically, the owner has a fallback position.
“The real insurance companies are not shaking because they have also reinvested the premium. An insurance firm also does not bear the risk alone, they spread the risk with other insurance companies or a re-insurance company so that when a loss like this occurs, they will fall back on those companies, like a consortium of insurance companies to pay the compensation,” he explained.