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What you don’t know will kill you

August 28, 2017

Once again, a mishap happened last Sunday (20th August 2017) and for the second time in a span of less than four weeks, you my readers were denied the opportunity to read my thoughts. I sincerely hope you can forgive me for this and hopefully, this will be the last time this happens. For the sake of continuity, I would like to share the same article I had prepared for you last weekend, not because I don’t have anything else to share, but because I feel there is a powerful message to be learned from this article.

So here we go....

Remember the Ombudsman? He, the Ombudsman called me. And that made me feel very important!

I mean, I didn’t get a call from an official from his office, neither was it his personal assistant or an aide, or even his deputy who called me. NO! I mean the Tanzania Insurance Ombudsman (TIO) himself took time off from his very busy schedule to call me. By the way, now that I think about it, does the TIO have a deputy? That’s something I didn’t ask him, but who knows, I might just get another call to answer this question.

For those of you who are reading today’s article but didn’t get a chance to read the initial article where I introduced the idea of TIO then you might have a problem connecting the dots in today’s article.  To avoid this, I suggest you visit my blog to read the prequel to today’s article here.

Going back to today’s article, I have to admit that when I got that call and I realized who was calling my heart kinda skipped a few beats. My first thought was, “what did I do wrong”? Being me, I actually voiced my thoughts to him and he being the gentleman he is, he reassured me that he was all for peace. So I relaxed.... until he made a statement which left me unsettled; again. To paraphrase his words, he said something like this, “I am concerned that even though I presented about the role of the Tanzania Insurance Ombudsman, maybe I was not clear enough and I was not understood”.

If you do recall from the previous article, I did mention that I thought Ombudsman was an Igbo name. I however learned when I attended the 3rd Tanzania Insurance Brokers Association’s (TIBA) annual conference that the name had a completely different meaning and weight all together. But besides this, I had subjected The Ombudsman to some activities that he had no business or interest being in; actually he didn’t have a choice. [Read the previous article to get clarity on this].  When I put all these things together, I was at a loss for words to say when he made the above statement about not being understood.

I mean, how was I to explain to him that all along I had imagined Ombudsman to be a Nigerian man who had been invited to speak at the conference? Worse still, when he stood to speak and finally revealed that he was actually THE Ombudsman himself, all I could think of was the fact that I had “forced” him to run some errands with me, not really knowing who he was. Honestly speaking after this realization I felt like I had disrespected his position. And so when he stood to speak, my mind went blank and it’s like I stopped listening to him and started thinking of how I was going to apologize. As I was thinking about all that, it also hit me that I was scheduled to speak after him! Thankfully though, there was a lunch break between his presentation and mine, and so I had at least an hour or to compose myself ready my mind to do my presentation.

In a nutshell,  within the 33 minutes and 34 seconds we spoke, I learned more from him about my rights as an insured than I have ever learned from any of the brokers I have ever worked with, any of the insurers who have ever insured me or even the one insurance company I worked for when I first started working in 1998. Forget the fact that I worked in that insurance company for 2½  years!

It is through him that I learned that when I had a claim on my car a few years back and I didn’t have an alternative vehicle to use while my car was being repaired, the insurance company should have given me a temporary car to use while waiting for my car to get fixed. Why? Because I had comprehensively insured my car! But guess what, even though the company that had insured my car (still does) is full of my friends, none of them told me this secret. But to be fair, I later learned that the cover note the company had issued me had this explained but I didn’t read it. Like most of us do, I just appended my signature and moved on.

Another thing I learnt from him is how his office deals with victims of accidents. For instance, if someone was walking on a footpath then he gets knocked down by some vehicle, how is the victim supposed to handle that issue? What are that victim’s rights and how does he go about getting those rights? The office of the Insurance Ombudsman is the victim’s go-to place.  Another example he gave me is that when your car is involved in an accident, and  you file your claim but for some reason you feel the insurance company is not doing justice to your issue and you have evidence to support your “feeling” you can take your issue to the TIO’s office and justice will be served accordingly. 

And here’s the kicker; once the TIO has made his decision, nobody can counter it. You can go to the court of appeal all you want but nothing will happen. His decision is FINAL. There is a lot of information we as insurance consumers don’t know and as a result, we lose a lot of privileges. Of course the insurers will not tell you when you are not taking advantage of your cover, after all, they operate on the principle of “Catch me if you can”. For more information about the Tanzania Insurance Ombudsman, visit www.tio.go.tz. You will be grateful that you did.

I don’t know about you but after listening to Judge Lyimo for over half an hour schooling me about my rights as an insured I wished there was a platform where everyone else could get similar schooling from him. How I wish different organizations could come together and create a platform for the TIO’s office to disseminate this very important information to people because honestly speaking, not many of us know what our rights are as insurance consumers aka insureds. Better still, imagine if all the media houses (private and government) as part of their CSR activities, decided to offer a platform for the TIO’s office to talk to people about the importance of insurance as well as their rights as insureds, wouldn’t this be a good thing? I am thinking of a weekly program, 45 minutes each program done over 52 weeks in a year, where people call in to ask different questions about insurance, wouldn’t we see this particular sector expand in ways never imagined before?

It is this conversation with the TIO that led me to today’s article.

For a very long time we have followed the school of thought that “what you don’t know won’t hurt you”. After talking to the TIO, I realize how wrong this line of thinking is. The truth is, what you don’t know is likely to kill you (be it physically or otherwise) faster than what you know. For instance, if you know you are HIV positive, you will do whatever necessary to ensure that  you control your condition. But what will happen, or what happens if you don’t know you have that condition? You’ll continue living recklessly, probably infecting many others because you don’t know your condition. By the time you realize you are not ok, it might be a little too late.

Similarly, what you don’t know about your profession will definitely affect you. For instance, if you have no idea that your industry requirements have changed, what happens to you? You are very likely to be eliminated because of not knowing what’s going on in your industry. Why? Could it be because of ignorance? Or is because of lack of knowledge? My favorite book says this, “my people perish for lack of knowledge”. And why do they suffer lack of knowledge? Because very few people want to take the trouble to increase their knowledge. Increasing your knowledge requires an intentional and a conscious decision to acquire knowledge. So where does knowledge come from? You don’t expect knowledge to walk to your door and knock, do you? If it did, I am sure you would run away. You have to take the initiative to get knowledge and information from different sources. The problem is that very few people are ready and willing to do this. My Pastor says such people suffer a condition called mental laziness.

Listening to the TIO made me make the conclusion, that whether you like it or not, what you don’t know will definitely affect you. Like the old adage says, knowledge is power.

By the way, there is a very big difference between information and knowledge. If you want to know how different, ask those who had information but they had no knowledge of how to use that information.

My humble request to you today is that you may go an extra mile to not only gather information, but to know how to apply that information.

Be Ignited. Be Inspired. Be Influenced. Become the best version of yourself you can ever be.

PS: This article was originally published in Tanzania's Guardian On Sunday on the 28th August, 2017, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words". 




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