Associated Airlines May Be Flying Without Insurance.

Aircraft in the fleet of Associated Airlines may have been flying without insurance cover since the beginning of this year as its alleged insurer, Nigeria Reinsurance Plc (Nigeria-Re), has denied having any insurance contract with the airline.
Also, the second insurer named by the airline, Sema Insurance, is neither registered by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) nor an insurance broking firm registered by the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB).
This revelation is coming on the heels of the crash of one of the airline’s aircraft conveying the corpse of former Governor of Ondo State, Chief Olusegun Agagu, and some of his family members, including government officials to Akure on Thursday. The crash which occurred within the vicinity of the Murtala Mohammed Airport Lagos minutes after take-off, claimed 13 lives, with two of the six survivors still in critical condition.
The implication of the latest revelation is that the expected insurance claims by surviving victims of the crash and relatives of the deceased victims may be in jeorpady.
The Chief Operating Officer of Associated Airlines, Taiwo Raji, had said the aircraft was insured by Sema Insurance in partnership with Nigeria-Re. At another time, the company was said to have been insured by Africa Reinsurance Corporation (Africa-Re) and Sema Insurance.
However, Nigeria-Re has denied the existence of any insurance contract with the airline, saying such claims were not only false but made by “people who do not understand the way the insurance industry is organised.”
The Managing Director of Nigeria-Re, Mrs. Isioma Chukwu, said that her organisation was never at any time the official insurer of Associated Airlines.
She explained that her organisation, being a reinsurance company, do not transact any business with the insureds or policyholders, adding that reinsurance companies insures risks taken by primary insurance companies and as such could not have had any insurance transaction with the airline.
Just like the Nigeria-Re, Africa-Re as a secondary insurer does not transact insurance businesses with individuals, corporate bodies or any other type of client. It insures risks of primary insurers only.
Investigations also confirmed that there was no insurance company named Sema Insurance on the list of companies registered by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM).
Enquiries from the umbrella body for insurance broking firms in the country, Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), confirmed that Sema Insurance was not on their list.
The Head of Corporate Communications at the council, Mr. Tope Adaramola said there was no such name in the register of the brokers’ body.
“There is no Sema on our list of registered insurance brokers in the country,” he said.
An online search for the insurance company showed that it is located at 355 Alhambra Circle Suite 1201,Coral Gables, Florida, USA.
Investigations have also shown that the airline may have been flying without any valid insurance protection since the beginning of this year.
A top insurance broker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Custodian and Allied Insurance Plc, was the insurer of the airline but had to stop at the beginning of this year because the airline defaulted in the payment of premium for the cover.
Officials of the airline could however not be reached to comment on the matter, as their offices were shut yesterday. However, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as a regulatory body, is responsible for all enquiries about aviation accident and aircraft.
The authority may have failed in its duty to ensure adequate insurance protection for air travellers as it was not able to confirm that the insurance certificates which the airline presented were genuine.
When contacted to react to the findings, General Manager, Public Affairs of NCAA, Fan Ndubuoke, said the Director General, Mr. Fola Akinkuotu, was not disposed to commenting on the matter because he had just returned to the country and was also engaged in a series of meetings so as to be briefed on the tragic accident. Akinkuotu attended the recent International Civil Aviation Organisation Council Meeting in Montreal, Canada.
Meanwhile, the airlines’ office at ‘Terminal B’ wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, was shut yesterday. No staff was on ground to attend to visitors who besieged the office for enquiries.
Federal Airport Authority (FAAN), Station Manager, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, said there was no directive from government that the office should be shut.
Mr. Joe Obi, the Special Adviser to the Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Oduah, also corroborated Yakubu’s claim that there was no directive from the ministry that the airline should be shut.
He said: “Associated Airlines is a small operator that does not even fly regularly, the closure of their office, perhaps is to show solidarity with the families of those who died in the crash.”
He said it would be callous for an operator to open shop in the midst of the loss they suffered in the crash.
At the various booking desks of other commercial airlines, it was business as usual, as the crash did not have any impact on flight schedules and passengers who were eager to check in for their flight.
Asked to comment on the impact of the crash, Captain Alex Sabundu, of Arik airlines, said, Thursday’s air crash was a sad and terrible one, but it won’t stop us from flying.
“I have always looked at it this way that when it is anybody’s turn to die, the person will die, no matter what happens. People in Nigeria keep throwing blames when an aircraft crashes, everyone is blaming one another, it is not necessarily so.
“There are those on board who survived, despite the crash,” Sabundu said, adding that even though there was a crash that day, he still flew from Lagos, an hour later.
According to him, “Nigeria is not the only place where air accident occurs, it happens everywhere in the world,” adding that “the aviation sector is not as bad as people are made to believe.”
Arguing that the age of the aircraft had nothing to do with crash, he said “If you go abroad there are planes that are 50 years old, yet they are still flying, as far as they are properly maintained.”
A passenger, Mr. Jubril Suleiman who was due to board an Arik flight, said: “I still prefer traveling by air, as it is the safest. “What happened Thursday is destiny, once it is anybody’s time, no one can stop it.”