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Nigerian entertainers should be insured

By Ekerete Ola Gam-Ikon
01 August 2022   |   3:31 am
In 2002, I had the opportunity of meeting of selected persons from both the insurance and entertainment industries at the section of the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos used for entertainment at the time.

In 2002, I had the opportunity of meeting of selected persons from both the insurance and entertainment industries at the section of the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos used for entertainment at the time.

As I listened to the concerns raised by entertainment stakeholders, comprised mostly of actors, directors, producers and scriptwriters, I knew that the insurance industry then could not deliver the products and even the services needed.

For example, the actors, some of whom have become legends today, wanted to know if they would be compensated if the accident resulted from a stunt action in a film. Of course, this was (is) an exemption from a standard Personal Accident Insurance Policy, so the answer then was No! And we will only have to confirm if position has changed 20 years after.

The insurance professionals were interested to have the entertainers take the available traditional products – Life, Personal Accident, Fire and Burglary policies, which did not quite seem to connect with their critical needs. Amongst the actors were a few who were already struggling with critical illnesses, which health insurance could address but was not part of what insurers offered then.

When producers and directors described in concise details their roles on the shooting locations and concerns about highly valued equipment including cameras, it was easy for us (insurers/brokers) to recommend All Risks Insurance coverage for those moveable equipment. However, the discussions changed for the insurance side when it was confirmed that the producers and directors were not the owners of the equipment and only hired them on need basis.

In the larger entertainment industry in Nigeria with musicians, comedians, comperes, on-air personalities, dancers and skit makers, the stories are the same; 98 percent of them are not insured against common risks of death, disabilities, critical illnesses arising from accidents or attacks.

Teeming fans, followers and admirers of celebrated entertainers always do not know that they are without insurance until the unexpected occurs and some shocking piece of news get circulated, quite often, about raising funds to assist the entertainers or their immediate families.

Interestingly, managers of international entertainers coming to perform in Nigeria insist on sighting the insurance documents for the venue of the event as part of the agreement with the organizers. How many of our event centres in Nigeria where our celebrated entertainers gather are insured?

Today, while we continue to discuss how both insurance and entertainment can be of value to one another, we found three (3) reasons why the insurance of entertainers in Nigeria may remain challenging: Entertainers think Insurance is for the Financially Disadvantaged.

Quite often, when entertainers leave the starter stage and fame and money begins to come, they are secured by the protection provided by the best security outfits and technology, which they are able to afford, and life can hardly be interrupted by anything unexpected. To them, ill-health just requires medical attention which they can afford.

So as long as there are scriptwriters, they will be films to produce and direct and money to be made; similarly, once people and organizations seek to gather, they will be need to entertain them and money will change hands.

The common thinking is that the money will continue to flow so long as the entertainers show up on our TV screens or event centres; and if you have money to fix the problem that insurance is promising to attend to, why do you need to show any sign that you are financially disadvantaged.

The irony of life is that accidents and incidents, sometimes just creep into one’s space and causes such havoc that many find very challenging to recover from for a long period of time.

Unfortunately, once you miss showing up where you were required to make people happy, and the news filters out that you were ill, your fame and money begin to dwindle.

When your source of income gradually disappears, while you are in need of money to help your situation, that is when your insurance kicks in. Families and friends have acted as the “insurers” in the absence of a formal insurance policy, which we have been part of without knowing.

Entertainers need to understand and embrace insurance as their long term partners that can be their source of income when they are unable to keep performing and receiving monies. Would you not rather have an insurance plan that will be there for you in 15 years when your followership would have changed or reduced thereby affecting your bottom -line?

There is yet no Entertainment Insurance product in Nigeria
As observed during the engagement mentioned at the beginning of this article, the needs of entertainers cannot be met by the current insurance products in the Nigerian market.

In more advanced insurance markets, specific insurance coverages have been offered to the entertainment industry and they have been embraced with hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into the insurance industry as premium. One of the highest claims paid to an individual policyholder in the history of the insurance industry globally was made to an entertainer!

Entertainment Insurance is not just about the liabilities of the persons, it also covers the activities of all other stakeholders in the industry including sponsors. In Nigeria, where the entertainment industry contributes far more to the Gross Domestic Product than the insurance industry, new efforts are being pursued to ensure entertainers see insurance as a strategic tool for sustaining some acceptable level of living after attaining so much fame and wealth.

Our entertainers could be part-owners of banks, tech start-ups or something innovative in other sectors and retire young but not without strong financial planning instruments like insurance.

Hopefully, the push by some insurance players working with leading entertainers and new-thinking insurers will produce insurance coverages that finally meet the needs of entertainers importantly settlement of claims as at when due.

Entertainers are not unaware of the horrifying experiences of claimants and have even reflected these in their films and events whilst entertaining their audiences. So, it just might be helpful to see and hear them communicate better narratives regarding claims settlement.

Entertainers hardly receive Financial Support from Insurance Companies for their Movies and Shows
Mutual collaboration has taken centre stage in the way businesses are conducted and managed all over the world and Africa is not an exception. The value of collaboration cannot be overstated.

However, put simply, value means different things to different people and sectors of any nation’s economy. To the entertainment industry, value is represented in fame and money, so when they seek support whether through collaboration or sponsorship, they expect most of it to come as money.

Interestingly, the insurance operators, by the nature of their business, cannot afford to spend unduly from the money (premium) they hold in trust for their policyholders and apply for the payment of claims when due.

Value for insurance operators would be what translates into premium.

To achieve shared values or a win-win for both sides, there has to be an agreement to work together and extract what is desired.

The conversations would start with long term views of the relationship, seeking to understand the working patterns that deliver value to each side, and pushing towards the adoption of digitisation to create and scale up the shared value system.

Though it is evident that the insurance industry stands to gain more from the entertainment industry at the initial stage of any collaboration, in the long run, it is the entertainment industry that will be glad it decided to work with insurers, generally known for their prudence and assertiveness.

The bigger winner, of course, will be the Nigerian economy, and Nigerians who would not have to mourn and brood over the untimely death or poor health condition of their celebrated entertainers.

Insurance works for those who embrace it early.

Gam-Ikon, an insurance expert wrote Lagos.