It is unfortunate that the Boko Haram insurgents have continued to mount a vicious campaign against Western education, students and colleges, with many schools completely burnt and pupils abducted or murdered by suicide bombers.
Shamefully too, more than 200 girls abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State on April 14, 2014 are yet to be rescued in spite of the international condemnation the abduction of the girls has attracted.
This sad development informed the Federal Government’s decision to appoint NICON Insurance Limited to arrange Students Welfare Insurance Scheme for 125,000 secondary pupils in 104 Unity Schools across the country.
The insurance scheme is a combination of Group Personal Accident and Group Life Assurance Schemes.
To arrange the insurance cover, however, each pupil is expected to pay N5,000 premium per annum.
Benefits of the insurance cover
In case a student is involved in accidental death, the sponsor will be entitled to N500, 000.
In the event of the death of the sponsor or guardian of a student, the pupil will be entitled to the payment of school fees up to the year of graduation from the secondary school up to a maximum of N500, 000 per annum.
Should a pupil accidentally sustains permanent disability, he/she will be entitled to N500, 000 as compensation. For accidental medical expenses, a pupil would be entitled to N50, 000 for medical treatment.
If a student is involved in accidental death, the insurer will pay N50, 000 for burial expenses.
Controversies that trailed the contract
While it was alleged that there was no bidding for the insurance contract before it was handed over to NICON Insurance as the sole underwriter of the 104 unity schools scattered across the country, the management of the insurance firm has denied the allegation.
The management of insurance firm explained that the new scheme is its intellectual property, which was presented to the Federal Ministry of Education and that due process was followed before its appointment as the sole underwriter.
Government ought to pay the premium
In accordance with section 50(1) of the Insurance Act 2003 which stipulates that “The receipt of an insurance premium shall be a condition precedent to a valid contract of insurance and there shall be no cover in respect of an insurance risk, unless the premium paid in advance” it is only reasonable to appreciate that the required premium has to be paid to arrange this insurance cover for the students.
However, the payment of the required premium should be the sole responsibility of the government. If the government cannot provide free education, it should be able to shoulder this responsibility of premium payment if it is actually concerned with the welfare of students as the people were made to believe.
Need for prompt claims payment
In consideration of the fact that the insurance companies are primarily in business to pay claims to the affected policyholders when the need arises, the onus is on the insurers to settle all genuine claims promptly so as to retain the confidence of the insuring public. If, in any case, a claim is to be repudiated, such should be communicated politely to the affected insured within a reasonable short period of time.
By so doing, these students and their parents can be the best salespersons for the insurers who will be helping to encourage other members of the insuring public to arrange insurance cover for themselves.
Other students need insurance cover
Granted that the government appreciated the value of education to make it appoint an insurer to arrange this cover for students of Unity Schools, it should equally be noted that students of other secondary schools in the country deserve no less.
The government is therefore enjoined to extend this insurance cover to all students in secondary schools so that they can also derive the benefits therefrom.
NICON Insurance has proudly stated that the Students Welfare Insurance Scheme for Unity Schools is its intellectual property. This is a commendable initiative. Other insurers are therefore enjoined to come up with more of such initiative rather than engaging in unethical practices to remain afloat. This will help in increasing the level of insurance awareness and penetration in the country.