When Insurance is no Insurance

I decided to comprehensively insure my car early last year. So I walked (by myself, with no one marketing it to me) through the door of an insurance company which was the subsidiary of a bank (at the time) and effect the insurance for which I paid the complete total annual insurance premium at once on the spot.

I walked away feeling great as the service appeared indicative of all the great things I had heard about the company.

Fast forward 9 months and a third party “brushed” my car. The damage wasn’t extensive but the front bumper became loose. I thought this would be a good time to test how efficient and responsive the insurance company was given that the damage was minimal. I hit the insurance company’s website, and downloaded their claims form. Noticed they required an estimate from a mechanic or an auto-shop, so I sent off some pictures via BBM of the front of the car to a mechanic I know who had worked on the car before. He promptly gave me a 19,000 Naira estimate.

I sent off the completed claims form by email to the insurance company and got delivery receipts from about 4 people (to a layman, it means the mail has been deposited in those persons’ inbox).

No other response. So I decided to see how long it would take for them to get back to me.

Fast forward 2 months (January this year) and I thought well, something must be wrong. Dug up the original mail, added a short note on top and sent it off again (copying another of their staff who had come to my office well after I had purchased the car insurance to market their services to myself and all my colleagues) Soon after, I got a call from one of the people on the initial list. She politely informed me that none of them could trace the original mail, but they will attend to the claim promptly.

Got another call shortly afterwards from the same lady informing me that the claim is too small and that they would only pay out on claims in excess of the “policy excess” of 50000 Naira (a figure based on the insured amount of the car) Well, since I am not in the insurance field, I had asked what question I could at the time I bought the insurance and policy excess wasn’t mentioned during the discussion. I only came across the term and figure of 50,000 about a month later when I received the policy document which was several pages and contained legalese and insurance-speak. So there I was up the proverbial shit creek without a paddle.

The lady explained further, that the agent who sold me the policy should have explained these things (true, so it was looking as if I should forget any idea of getting the claims paid. So I guess it’s now my fault – ignorance is no defense in law) Well, I suggested if they didn’t answer the claim for 2 months, then they should be willing to bend a little in the interest of fairness and customer service. The lady apologized for the delay (only) but no “bending” permitted, sorry.

So I informed the staff that I had intended to register the car with one of the big auto-shops around once it’s due for servicing, and that I know their repair estimate would definitely be higher than the one given by the mechanic. That wouldn’t work (I was informed) because that registration with the auto-shop would chronologically come after I had submitted the claims form (which no one responded to for 2 months) thereby making it invalid for the current claim. Besides the insurance company needs at least 3 service logs from the Auto-Shop to show evidence of an existing relationship (between the auto-shop and myself).

Oh, so let me get this straight: even if I had registered with this company but not serviced the car at least 3 times before the accident, they may still not have honoured the claim? What if I don’t drive the car much and thus see no reason to service the car 3 times in 9 months? I thought the need for servicing is based on how heavily a car is used and/or mileage covered – not just to satisfy the insurance company’s odd requirements? Is there an unholy alliance going on in there?

Why 3 service logs I asked? Oh, some people will get estimates from these auto-shops then go and actually carry out the repairs somewhere else much cheaper.
After thinking about this lame excuse, I realised that we are rightfully blaming the government for punishing us with subsidy removal for the crimes of a few greedy people, when local companies have been using the same argument as a get-out-of-jail-free card for the longest time. How does this relate to the excuse given above by the insurance company you ask?
Well, since the company is not going to pay me directly, but rather, pay the auto-shop, how can I then benefit from submitting an estimate from the auto-shop but then repairing the damage somewhere else by myself?

Even though I knew I had lost the fight, I was willing to give it one more shot and learn as much as I can against future transactions.

So as part of my questions, I posed a hypothetical claim of 55,000 Naira and requested to know how that would work out. Well, the response was that the company is only liable for 5,000 Naira out of the 55,000 Naira?
Say what? You mean I get to pay 90percent (N50,000) of the repair cost? It made me want to say “I dey craze?” as the popular expression goes. But I think this must be a typo. Anyway, I had had enough so I didn’t bother seeking clarification on this (mute) point. Actually, it wasn’t a typo. the policy excess appears to be a fixed sum which is the amount of any claims you make that will be borne by you irrespective of the total amount of the claim. To throw more light on this: no claims entertained below the “policy excess”; for all claims exceeding the policy excess, deduct the policy excess from the total claimed sum, what is left is what the insurance company will pay you. So, what you want is a relatively low “policy excess” figure when purchasing an insurance policy. And that my friends, is “Car insurance for dummies in 24 seconds” 🙂

All that was on Friday last week. So, OK, remember that staff that came to my office before? When he found out during that meeting that my car was already insured with his company, he said he would be the one to handle the renewal when the current policy expires. There was also other equipment I wanted to insure and I had told him that once I get my hands on them, I would let him know.

Well, this morning I got an email from him. He basically stated the same thing his colleague had said on the phone the previous week – sorry, given your policy, no claims for you. The funny (to me, but probably not to him) is that in the same breath, he said he was still expecting me to setup the insurance for the equipment. What can I compare this to? Hmm. I think it’s like sitting down in a restaurant which requires you to pay upfront before your meal and ordering a whole chicken. Thirty minutes later, the chicken arrives alright but looks like someone caught a sparrow and roasted it. So you look at it in obvious dissatisfaction, called the waiter and made your unhappiness known in no uncertain terms. Well, another waiter was passing by and thought it was OK to say, that though you obviously don’t like the chicken and are definitely not going to eat it, but can he offer you their medium-rare house sirloin steak which is actually cheaper than the whole chicken (new payment upfront of course!)?

Well, since I didn’t ask enough questions (and the agent didn’t volunteer enough information on gotchas in the fine print – the devil is in the details after all), I thought there is still a possibility of doing business. So I responded to the staff’s mail explaining exactly how I thought the N50,000 policy excess was too high and that I had started shopping around and had found some of their competitors with policy excess lower than N20,000 and that I intend to ask a gazillion questions (and hopefully see the answers in print) before committing to another insurance policy. And that about the insurance for the other equipment, he should send me a sample policy for similar equipment so I can study it and see if it’s to my liking.

Ultimately, it looks like they parted me from my hard earned cash, but on the other hand, if the damage had been in the 10s or 100s of thousand Naira, I would have been covered but I may have ended up paying the bulk of the repair despite the fact that I had a comprehensive insurance on the vehicle. Well, they didn’t scr*w me, they just scr*wed themselves out of my future custom/business as I am going to at least try and see if I can get a better deal somewhere else. So, they have won the battle but lost the war. Sacrificing N19,000 for easy money of 7 or 8 times that amount paid steadily year after year as long as the car is functional. Which they may not even have to pay out on if nothing happens to the car (that is the Insurance gamble though, they make a lot of money if nothing happens during the period the “property” is insured if no claims are made, and yes they can lose money as well, but based on history, most insurance companies make tidy profits year-in year-out).

So, the new insurance company I finally go with may not be any better than the current one, but at least it would satisfy my sense of justice and fairness going somewhere else. Of course, there is always the possibility I will re-insure the car with the same insurance company discussed above (if I find out that they are the best of several evils), but that is not likely to happen!

Here am I

I have been wondering how easy is it to say like Isaiah “Here am I, send me!”
There are people throughout known history who appear to have suddenly turned their backs on the secular world (some of them quite well-to-do), with something like “I am done with this s**t” and promptly lived a devoted/spartan life as a monk in a monastery or in some similar setting. It couldn’t have been very easy, yet (with God’s help?) they pulled it off.
I once met a young Catholic priest who had just graduated from the University and was going to take up his first posting at some church somewhere on the outskirts of Abuja I think. We got talking and I asked him how he came to be a priest and he told me he just knew early on that it was his calling. I guess nothing beats that level of assurance and conviction of ones purpose in life.
I have sometimes wondered that if indeed we believe that Christ’s coming is imminent (though we also know this may be now, 1000seconds or 1000years), may it not be a good idea to ditch “it” all, along with all its worries, strife, and pursuit of (worldly) happiness, and just go live the devoted life of a monk somewhere?
Can one enter a convent or seminary on a trial basis? I know this was possible (especially with monasteries) earlier on but does the same still apply? I need to find out. (This does not of course apply to the married people, who are automatically “excused”, who have a duty – after loving God first – to their families.)
There are of course several pertinent questions:
– has one been called (but does it really matter? Can’t one just “decide”?)
– is it an “escape” from the world and all its troubles (but why not?)
– are there more reasonable or practical alternatives (what is the definition of these terms and from whose perspective?)
– is it in line with God’s word (I dare say it’s not against it. After all Paul wasn’t married and didn’t procreate and Jesus telling the rich young man to sell his wordly goods, and follow him carries the slightest hint that if the man wasn’t already married, he himself may find it expedient not to do so had he elected to follow the master)
– and many more questions

Answering these questions satisfactorily is probably the difficult part: the 800pound Gorilla blocking the way. But once overcome, who knows, maybe one might just say: “Here am I, send me!”

Reference: Isaiah 6:8

Had Again

I just learnt that NLC has called off the strike with petrol now at 97 Naira.
I think we have been “had” again (as usual).
The question to ask is what exactly have we gained from the one-week mass strike action? My belief was that NLC’s mandate was to spearhead/coordinate the movement to force the FG to see reason and return the price to N65? Based on the history of increases in this country (either by decree/announcement or otherwise), it is common knowledge that the FG always announces a much higher figure than it’s (animal!) real intended figure knowing fully well that Nigerians will kick and scream no matter the size of the increase. A parallel can be drawn from the African’s basic trading practice of haggling which Westerners find odd and don’t understand unless they have lived here for a while. A fact that’s exploited by a lot of people to part these visiting Westerners from their hard currency over and above the reasonable costs of the products being sold.

– Who is to say 97 or 100 Naira is not the actual price decided upon by the FG before announcing the 141 Naira increase.
– Who is to say they have not already (with whiz-women and whiz-men such as Sanusi and Okonjo-Iweala in charge – yes, we thought they were clueless – but it seems that’s what they set out to do – scoff at their inability to understand basic Economics) calculated what they stand to make from the 32 naira increase and found it acceptable for their “pains”?
– Also, who is to say that Labour (NLC) has not sold us out as usual with the higher echelons having pocketed sizeable sums for their dramatic performances?

I though the goal was to get the FG to go back to N65 and then start working on all the other issues “we” decided they needed to address before considering any increase in the pump price of petrol. Issues that were necessary for us to have faith in this government’s sincerity and also ensure transparency in future dealings with Nigerians and the operations of bodies such as the Senate, the PPPRA, the FG, the NNPC, etc?
Since we have sold ourselves short (the FG has got away with making very little concessions or the necessity to make any real lasting changes), all we seem to have acheived is making ourselves feel better temporarily by calling our leaders and their cohorts “theives” – and you know what they say about “sticks and stones” and “words”.
Now that we have shouted ourselves hoarse on the streets and accepted defeated before the real prize was won, what have we really achieved? Lots of private citizens have lost lives, properties and income from the strike, while the people in government will just dip in the usual accounts to make up for any “perceived” losses they have made due to masses inconveniencing them my shutting down the country for a week.
Well, we can expect the following people amongst others to revert to the status quo:
– the FG will revert to milking the country’s coffers
– the Senate will feel they have contributed their quota by appearing to oppose the government and siding with the masses and then relax back into their usual practice of haggling over who gets on which committees and taking home their undeserved 200million naira salaries
– the NNPC will continue to get foreign exchange prices by phone and award the licenses as they see fit
– all the people whose name have been mentioned (which is not news anyway) as being the faces behind the Oil companies enjoying the subsidies (who are indeed the cabal members alongside the people in government) will take a small decrease in the obnoxious figures they were making before at the expense of the Nigerian populace (with the active participation of the government at all levels.)
– the state governors will continue to pocket majority of their state allocation while still raising funds by armed robbery tactics such as illegal tolls, raising tenement rates with no real development to show for it – talk about eating your cake and having it too.

The only people to have lost anything in “real terms” is the average Nigerian on the street.
So if we think we have won anything, I am sorry to say, No! The categories of people listed above are the ones having the last laugh. A year down the line, we will be back at N140 (unless the 97 Naira is still able to satisfy their unreasonable cravings for wealth and the BlackMan’s unlimited capacity to squander resources once he is in a position of power) And not to worry, a few of the roads would have been shoddily repaired at overinflated costs, the Power minister or whoever is responsible will announce increased power production figures based on the dissolution of PHCN with no real permanent  improvement experienced by the people, and these will be the FG’s performance scorecard to back its request to reduce more of the non-existing subsidy on Oil products.
There may be some talk of fixing the refineries but no increase in output – unless of course the government says there is (which we have no independent means of verifying)

It would make me not sad, but happy if nothing works out as I have described above (which means there is true improvement in the country), but I won’t keep my fingers crossed.

Hunt to Kill (the film)

Just finished watching Steve Austin in “Hunt to Kill”
Cliches flying all over the place! I think this film featured the most ridiculous utteration of the cliche “Is that all you got” I have seen in a long time! Yeah. I wasn’t expecting anything special as I had seen the rating on www.imdb.com but you can ascribe it to a slow Monday evening. I am going to be delighted to free up 2.2GB of space on my hard drive. And Oh, since the ending had to have that distant camera thingie going on with the heroes walking away into the distance while we continue to hear their conversation, Steve (or Jim) made sure of this by pinning the “Is that all you got” spewing main villain to the wall, and then combusting the whole caboodle by shooting up the vehicle because (you guessed it) walking off into the distance on a cold day with snow makes a better cinematic ending than driving off into the distance 🙂


Below is a post from Dammy Kuks who is a friend over at the blog http://mylipsrsealed-redlips.blogspot.com/. Feel free to check out her blog as well. We will see how this cross-posting thingie develops 🙂  I am hoping this will be an interesting alternate view of the world – different from mine. (I also have a post today at her blog). Enjoy.

Hi every1,

Am so excited to write and post here…it’s a strange poem…even I am stl analyzing it…njoy


I slept…I saw Nigeria
A place where smiles became fresh air
A home with lots of children with different colours and tongues

I slept…I saw Nigeria
A place where even the tiniest voice is heard A home where love is the milk And peace is the water

I slept…I saw Nigeria
A place where sleep is nt death
A home with bountiful harvest
And many look out for their brothers

I slept…I saw Nigeria
A second paradise
A beautiful dream come true
Where words became swords

I slept…I saw Nigeria
I woke…I saw a different Nigeria
I slept again…I Nigeria
I woke…then I finally saw Nigeria

I slept…I saw Nigeria
A home where forgiveness was the father
A place where all ages saw past their ages I did see Nigeria…did I?

I slept..I saw Nigeria
I hope it was Nigeria…

As I sleep again…Mylipsrsealed….

To them who slept and saw Nigeria…

Tunde’s Halo

I was chatting with a friend who said he/she was “naughty and nice” as a child and while growing up.
I pointed out that I was nothing of the sort. I was an altar boy (not really) with a halo while growing up. Parents used to point to me and say to their wards “Look at little Tunde over there. Do you see his halo? What can I do to make you more like him? Omo yi o ni pami o”
Well he/she didn’t believe me. Along with some other things I said. So I called him/her a doubting Thomas/Theresa. He/she didn’t believe me when I said I drove a Volkswagen Beetle (maybe, maybe not). I was told not to bring it to his/her house! That I better come on a bike (Okada) instead! I guess it must have something to do with maintaining his/her street cred!
Which brings me to a related topic. I was at a little get-together a year or so ago where the host decided to ask some questions to make things a little more interesting and involved. I basically found out you can’t have a girlfriend (at least not exclusively) if you don’t have car. I think this goes in particular for tertiary students (girls). I more or less found out that even if you appear to have a girlfriend, the girl probably has another beau on the side who “trips” her regularly. Before I am crucified and hung out to dry, these conclusions were made by girls at the do: that a “ride” is a necessity. Fortunately, they didn’t dwell much on the “type”, but I guess that may go without saying?
Some will of course say a man without a car is not ready to take on the responsibility (or is it burden?) of a woman. But I disagree, I don’t necessarily expect a couple to go “dutch” but since we are not talking marriage yet, the guy shouldn’t necessarily have enough money to practically “sustain” the girl.
I think this is where the fact that girls love them some bad boys come into play. So if you are a bad boy with little money, your chances are much improved, because you may get some rich girl or at least a girl who would consider your swagger more important than the content of your pockets. So where does that leave the good boys and the nice guys? Well, definitely not where they would like to be.
I began to wonder what hope there was for guys who are less well off? I thought all girls wanted was a hunk (but of course that was me just being a cynic, otherwise, why do all the toadie pot-bellied politicians and moneymen get all the beautiful girls hanging on their every word? I digress) Or if there is anything like true love as concerns the current generation?
I guess the situation of the country has now (and for sometime) made love equal to comfort.
So, back to my beetle. Look around you and see if you can find one. If you want to see mine, I can bring it by your house, on the condition that you must ride in it.
So do you believe me, or do you want to see a picture as well?

Let me leave you with the following blog post:


I woke up in a room. I do not know where. There is some furniture, but nothing out of the ordinary. There is a door to the left at the other end of the room away from the single bed. I try to remember, but I can’t. I do not know who I am. I think hard but nothing concrete comes to mind. I seem to remember things, but they are hazy and I do not know if they were real or dreams I had.
There were several medical operations. I am lying on my back surrounded by doctors. I remember convalescing. I put my hand into the front of my shirt and without thinking about it, I can trace several raised lines – surgical scars. I took off my shirt and I can see the thin scars. The operations must have been real. I remember a doctor now, describing the procedure – several in fact, parts removed, parts re-arranged, parts inserted.
I remember a passport, schematics of buildings, names of streets, I do not know where. I have a headache. I think I will lie down a little. Maybe I will take a little rest
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I am still in the same room. Now I remember more. Training like my life depended on it. Bright overhead light. I could not see. But I know there was a man just beyond the light saying something to me. What, I can’t remember. I remember the passport. I remember the picture. I remember his face. The target. Weak, fleshy neck, no physical exertion. Soft.
I remember what I was meant to do. I don’t remember why. I get up from the bed, and moved slowly towards the door. What was on the other side? I opened it gradually, but I know instinctively that no one was there. It was a sitting room, with a dining and a kitchen incorporated. Am I supposed to be hungry? I opened the fridge, there is food and drinks
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

There is an acronym: D.E.C. What does it mean and why is it important? D.E.C. – distract, execute, confirm/certify?
I remember.
I am the Certifier. There were 3 of us. The other two were the Distractor and the Executor. All were dispensable. But I am alive, so the project must have succeeded?

I remember the target. His security detail, a gargle of inexperienced bumblers pretending to be the secret service.
What was the objective? It’s all hazy. There is a newspaper on the small glass table in the living room. I pick it up and his picture is on the front. Apparently he is dead. Shot. Some arrests have been made but no leads as yet as to “who, how or why?”. I think the why is obvious, but maybe not. I do not care for such things. I have a task. I do. But the intelligence points to a man disconnected from reality, hated, scorned. The “how” may be found out with some serious “outside” help. The “who”, never. I remember his stats: his resting heart rate, his pulse, his blood pressure, his weight, his allergies, his weaknesses. Why? I am the Certifier. I must know.
I remember now. I have a throbbing headache. It doesn’t help.
It was impossible to get within striking distance of him with a gun: it wasn’t needed. His inept security detail will provide one if necessary.
The Distractor, efficient, adaptable. A pill under his tongue. Once in position, bites down hard. He is “apparently” dead of a heart attack in a minute. The crowd, and as expected, the security detail show their inexperience: they get distracted – briefly. But the little opening of less than a minute was all that’s needed. The opening created by people bending to look at the “dead”, the security detail, hesitating, trying to figure out if there was a threat to the target. I can imagine the Executor looking through the scope, a slight movement of a finger, sending a little projectile with a special payload hurtling through space, covering the 600 yards or so distance to the target in a split second.
I was there when the target went down. Disbelief on his minders faces. I was on my knee beside the body. A practiced eye and two fingers on his wrist even before he knew he was dead. He was. If he wasn’t, I had the contingency plan: my next course of action. With the minders crowding in, I select one without hesitation, a blow just below the diaphragm, or jab to the throat or a tap to the side of the head. I reach into his jacket and withdraw his piece before his eyes glaze over and he hits the ground. Three shots ring out: one to the chest and another to the head of the target, the third goes in my mouth and exits behind my ears taking the back of my head with it. But that didn’t happen. Didn’t need to. The Executor was as usual, on target.

I am the Certifier. I am expendable. But I live. I am here, so …

Happy New Year!

Sent my yearly Happy New Year SMS this morning. After battling with my phone for about 3 days (trying to send it from my phone by connecting the phone to my laptop/pc and using a suitable software to bulk send it). I finally gave up and decided to send it via one of the online bulk SMS services.
I googled and ended up with www.expressbulksms.com and was pleasantly surprised at their speedy service. I sent an SMS asking if I can do a direct transfer to one of their listed bank account (also using the SMS to confirm that the service is actually still functional) and I got a response shortly in the affirmative.
I carried out the transfer, then sent an SMS to the company’s contact number with the details and very quickly got a response that my account on their site had been credited with the number of SMS I had paid for.
I logged in to their site, created a group (since I wanted to send the same message to a lot of people, I think I ended up with 1055 recipients), exported my address contacts to CSV, cleaned it up a little and uploaded it to the group (it even detected duplicate numbers in the list!)
Supplied the SMS message and off it went.
I soon started getting response SMS from several of the contacts on my list.
(Note, you can also send individual SMS via the service as well)
And the SMS cost about a quarter of what it would have cost if I had sent it via my phone!

And to cap it up, I got a phone call from a Pastor on my list (I think his number must have come from my mum’s phone – some time in the distant past when her phone ran out of juice, I think I imported her address book into mine so she could make some calls). The pastor didn’t really know me, but said as soon as my SMS came in, God laid it on his heart to contact me and he directed me to a chapter in the bible, quoted some of it and even prayed for me!

Wow! Now, I just need to keep on the straight and narrow, and more importantly believe to actualize (speak da word into being Padre!) those blessings!

Happy New Year everybody!