Nigeria: 35 States Shun Group Life Insurance for Civil Servants

16 April 2019

Lagos — About 2.5 million civil servants may miss having Group Life Insurance cover following the inability of 35 states of the federation to procure it despite the mandate of Pension Reforms Act (PRA) 2014 to employers to enrol their workers.

LEADERSHIP learnt that, as of March 31, 2019, only Kaduna State and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have life insurance cover for their workers.

Investigation shows that while Lagos, Niger, Osun and Rivers states insured their workers last year, they are yet to renew in the current year after it expired at the end of last year, thereby putting them among defaulting states.

Market observers said the non-adherence by these state governments exposed the families of over 2.5 million workers to danger should anything happen to their breadwinners.

At the moment, the families of civil servants who died in the current year within the 35 states are left to their own fate as they are not entitled to death benefits meant to sustain the bereaved after the death of their loved ones.

LEADERSHIP reports that group life cover is a joint regulation of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) and PenCom. Section 9 (3) of the Pension Reform Act 2004 (now PRA 2014) requires every employer, to which the Act applies, to maintain Life Insurance Policy in favour of the employee for a minimum of three times the annual total emolument of the employee. The policy provides cover to the insured against death.

However, with PRA 2014 failing to prescribe sanctions for defaulters, state governments have cashed on this loophole to evade committing funds to provide life insurance cover for their workers, especially with some of them even struggling to pay salaries.

LEADERSHIP investigation reveals that life insurance companies have visited some of the defaulting states to persuade them to buy group life cover for their employees, but it seems most of them are not ready to bear this financial responsibility.

In an interview with LEADERSHIP, the director, Centre for Pension Rights Advocacy (CPRA), Mr. Ivor Takor, urged the unions in public and private sectors to rise up to the plight of workers by compelling employers to insure their lives.

According to him, while the labour unions are fighting for salary increment, the pension and insurance packages of workers should also be part of their demands.

"It is now obvious to everybody that the state governors, among others, cannot do anything for the welfare of the workers unless they are compelled to do it. So, if the public sector unions don't get up and ensure they implement these things, those states will not do anything," he said.

On his part, the president, Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), Mr. Shola Tinubu, urged employers to take up the responsibility of insuring their workers as this may also motivate employees to be dedicated to work.

While experts agree that it is the duty of employers to buy group life cover for their respective staff, they also called for a review to the group life section of the PRA 2014 to criminalise non-insurance of workers by employers and prescribe heavy sanctions for defaulting employers.

They also advised labour unions to impose it on players in the private and public sectors to have insurance cover for workers, just as they urged the concerned law enforcement agency to enforce this compulsory insurance product.

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