1.1 Background to the Study
Risk is an essential part of business because firms cannot operate without taking risks. Risk is commonly associated with uncertainty, as the event may or may not occur. Risk implies exposure to uncertainty or threat (Kannan and Thangavel, 2008); and ‘a decision to do nothing explicitly avoids the opportunities that exist and leaving the threats unmanaged’ (Hillson and Murray-Webster, 2007:26). Traditionally, risk has been viewed as negative consequences and unfavourable events. The consideration of risk from the negative perspective is restrictive and misleading for two main reasons. First, uncertainty may manifest in either negative (threat) or positive (opportunity) form, or both; and second, the way a risk is perceive influences the manner in which it is handled (Hillson, 2002). Managing risks from negative perspective may result to complete omission of opportunities (benefits/gains) in the event being considered. However, perspectives on risk differ, as the risk definition depends on and is affected by the risk observer (Kelman, 2003). Moreover, risk sometimes entails some economic benefits, as firms may derive considerable gains by taking risk. Business grows through greater risk taking (Drucker, 1997). Risk is, therefore, integral to opportunities and threats which may adversely affect an action or expected outcome (Kaye, 2009; Lowe, 2010). Moreover, getting rid of risk undermines the source of value creation; thereby truncates potential opportunities (Knight and Petty, 2001; Grazino and Aggarwal, 2005; Garvan, 2007). In essence, to business enterprise risks are ‘uncertainty that matter’ (Hillson and Murray-Webster, 2011:19).
Life is full of risks; expected or unexpected. In recent years there have been a lot of disasters and uncertainties affecting personal lives and the business environment across the globe. These events have had adverse effects on the socioeconomic activities on developed and developing nations; particularly Nigeria. There have been violent floods, fire outbreaks, traffic accidents, occupational hazards, accidental damage to properties and harm caused to lives, theft and armed robbery, as well as other unforeseen events that impact negatively on various economic ventures; especially the private sector investment activities. These mishaps remind us of the need to adopt risk management measures. Risk is everywhere but the business world is much exposed to it. To overcome the losses arising from these risks some take up insurance, others do not.
Aizenman and Marion (1999), highlight the adverse effects of risks on investment using macroeconomic data from more than forty (40) developing countries. They emphasized the fact that the uncertainty about business decisions in the future and the resulting gains cannot be optimistic.
Despite efforts by successive governments through economic reforms to heighten the private sector to complement government’sinvestments and enhance economic growth, the
sector’s response is relatively low; and thi
Entrepreneurs make decisions regarding their investment in a dynamic and risky environment.
The outcomes of their decisions are generally not conclusive due to the uncertainties associated with the future outcomes. Variability in future outcomes is the biggest source of risk, particularly among Small, and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs). The use of insurance as a risk mitigation tool provides confidence and prospects in successful business decisions, however to some degree.
The basic function of insurance is risk transference; risk is transferred from one party (the insured) to another party (the insurer). The transfer of risk by no means eliminates the possibility of misfortune, but the insurer provides financial security and tranquillity for the insured when the insured risk occurs. In return, an insured pays a premium in a very small amount when compared with the potential losses that may be suffered (Morton, 1999).
Insurance as a risk management tool in Nigeria is made extensive and mandatory by the Insurance Act, 2006 (Act 724). The Act makes it compulsory for private commercial property owners such as hotels, restaurants, hospitals and clinics, Auto shops, manufacturing firms and many other related businesses to obtain fire and liability insurance just as it is compulsory for vehicle owners to obtain the Third Party Motor Insurance cover under the compulsory third party
motor insurance Act 1958 (Act 42). Sections 1 not construct or cause to be constructed a commercial building without insuring with a registered
insurer the liability in respect of construction risks caused by negligence or the negligence of servants, agents or consultants which may result in bodily injury or loss of life to or damage to property of any workman on the site or of any member of the public; every commercial building shall be insured with an insurer against the hazards of collapse, fire, earthquake, storm and flood, and an insurance policy issued for it; the insurance policy shall cover the legal liabilities of an
owner or occupier of premises in respect of loss of or damage to property, bodily injury or death suffered by any user of the premises andical thir satisfaction and financial leverages to investors buying insurance to safeguard business interests.
The compliance of the Act (Act 724) is in doubt: as the 2007, ENGAS company filling station gas explosion at Asokwa in Ashanti Region did not fulfil its obligation per the law; the 2011 fire explosions at the Western Steel and Forging Ltd in Tema caused injury, death and damages to people and properties; also, the destruction of properties at Kantamanto Market and the VRA computer room (housing its server) by fire evidence the need for insurance covers to minimize the effects of hazards to SMEs, Government Agencies and Departments; hence, the call on government with other stakeholders to assist victims.
1.2 Problem Statement
Risk is one of the most overlooked areas in SMEs in spite of the fact that it is clear to
most entrepreneurs that, operating any business involves risk such as losses associated with property, income, injury and liability. These risks are inevitable to most entrepreneurs in businesses. Prudent business owners take steps to minimize the risk of their businesses in other to maximize returns on investments. A good risk management system is a continuous process of analysis and communication to select the appropriate tool to manage risk.
SMEs in Nigeria serve as vital indicative sources of growth, technological innovation and flexibility. However, they are saddled with towards growth and development strategies. SMEs are exposed to many risks in their ordinary
course of business, such as interest rate risk, foreign exchange risk, market risk, natural disasters, political risk, and technological risk and so on, that minimize their profit by increasing their
financial losses. However, insurance enshrined in sections 183 and 184 of the Insurance Act, 2006 (Act724) to serve as a buffer in the event of mishaps is not given the attention it deserves regardless of its significance to mitigate the effects of risks resulting from disasters or unexpected events. In Uyo, the level of patronage of insurance by SMEs as a risk transfer mechanism to mitigate risks such as collapse of building, fire outbreaks, accidents, burglary, business interruptions, and dishonesty of personnel tend to be wavy. What were the recovery measures in the wake of the potential losses and financial hardships?
In view of this, the researcher examined the extent to which non-life insurance was used as a risk management tool by SMEs.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The research broadly sought to assess the extent to which SMEs adopt insurance as a risk management and minimizing tool and the benefits there in. Specifically, the research intended to achieve the following objectives to:
- Identify what business risk(s) SMEs face;
- Examine the response of SMEs towards the use of non-life insurance to mitigate pure risk(s);
- Assess the benefits SMEs derive from using insurance as a risk management tool;
4. Identify any problems SMEs encounter in using insurance; and
- Find out solutions to the challenges that SMEs encounter in using insurance.
1.4 Research Questions
The main research question addressed was: do SMEs use insurance to mitigate business risk(s)? The specific related questions to solve the research problem included the following:
1. What were the risk exposures that an SME was faced with?
2. Did entrepreneurs of SMEs have enough insurance for their businesses?
3. What was the level of response to using insurance as a risk management tool?
4. What benefits did SMEs derive from using insurance as a risk management tool?
5. What were the problems that SMEs encounter in using insurance?
6. What were the solutions to overcome the challenges that SMEs encountered in using insurance?
1.5 Significance/Justification of the Study
The study would help identify the reasons for the level of patronage of insurance as a risk transfer mechanism and create a changed behaviour of the owners of SMEs. The research would benefit, risk managers, business consultants and business continuity consultants by identifying areas that they might need to consider when preparing disaster recovery plans, particularly for SMEs. Findings that emerged from the study would serve as a spring board to generate interest for further research into the other aspects of insurance challenges. The research work would also be of enormous assistance to various levels of educational institutions in the country, especially the universities as reference material for further studies and research work on insurance as a risk management strategy. The study would further contribute to the existing literature on mitigating and providing confidence to entrepreneurs in their investment decisions. Also, the insurance
regulator in the country should find it useful to adopt pragmatic means to enforce the unenforced insurance Acts in the country. Lastly, it might influence the level of premium incomes of non-life insurance companies in the country.
1.6 Method of the study
The researcher made use of the survey method to generate primary data to achieve the objectives of the study, (Zikmund, 2000). A multiple stage sampling design was used to draw sample frame to avoid any bias. First, the metropolis was clustered into three electoral constituencies, constituting 19(nineteen) towns (Figure 3.1). A cluster sampling of 4(four) small scale businesses, 5(five) medium scale businesses were taken from each sample elements from the: central, south and north constituencies respectively. Nine (9) business units were clustered from each town. SMEs were divided into different clusters according to the number of employees. A total of 171 registered and non-registered SMEs were sampled and questioned. Different clusters of SMEs had the same number of employees as one sub-cluster. All thirteen insurance companies in the metropolis were
respondents to section “C” of the question were contacted.
Primary data was collected from respondents per the questionnaire. In gathering data, the researcher self-administered 13% of the questionnaire, while 87% of the remaining questionnaires were administered by trained personnel to administer and gather information from the entrepreneurs. The rationale for using this approach was to allow the respondents ample time with monitoring to answer at their own pace without taking them away from their work. The trained personnel read and interpreted questionnaires to non-literate respondents. In answering the questionnaire, the
respondents were asked to indicate their responses to the questions on a five point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), (Likert, 1932). Also closed and opened ended response questions were analysed.
The researcher made use of qualitative and quantitative survey design for this study. The design involved the collection of data concerning the study. Frequency tables and percentages (%), figures and cross tabulation were used in analyzing the data with the aid of Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS).