The recent disaster at the Kintampo Water Falls is a wake-up call to insure tourist sites
The recent disaster at the Kintampo Water Falls is a wake-up call to insure tourist sites

Insuring tourist sites - a collective responsibility

I recall having written an article on the urgency in insuring public places against the unforeseeable. This followed a stampede at a community centre during a festive occasion in Kumasi last year that led to the loss of some youthful lives.


In the said article, I did sound a clarion call to the relevant stakeholders to act swiftly such that in the event of any such mishaps, at least some forms of compensation would be given to victims and/or their next of kin. As to whether or not anything at all has been done, I do not know yet.

The recent Kintampo tragedy that hit us was more than we could bear. The loss of lives of some revelling students was not a thing anybody could imagine. 

Many experts have shared their own thoughts on what we should do or should have done to ensure that this hadn’t happened, or if it did, what we should have done. I respectfully think that it has become part of our ‘being’ that we only react to disasters with emotions and technical know-how on the subject matter.

In the recent past, news about fire gutting public places, thus killing people or people in situations of stampede at public places have become common. 

Until the Kintampo incident, no one really paid attention to the fact that a huge tree that was hanging on a cliff/rock of a waterfall could painfully descend on innocent souls, crashing them to death – so unfortunate! 

The problem, in my opinion, is not about what safety measures were available at the facility but what the owners or managers of public facilities had put in place such that in any such events, due compensations are extended to affected individuals and perhaps property damaged. 

These are some of the unpleasant realities ‘we have full control over until they do occur!’ 

Once some of these mishaps occur in such public places, the law would recognise the fact that due care to prevent such accidents had not been taken. It even becomes worse if death occurs as a result of the accident (notwithstanding a pre-existing medical condition such as hypertension). This, therefore, informs the occasional stories of owners of public and private facilities being picked up by the law enforcement agencies to assist in investigations regarding accidents involving, within or around their facilities. Though not compulsory, it has become imperative for organisations to have Public Liability (PL) insurance in order to indemnify them against liabilities arising from such accidents, including lawsuits.

A clear scenario

In my article on PL insurance last year, I cited an imaginative scenario of students from Osram JHS embarking on an excursion to a mall in Accra and stampeding after having heard the sound of a falling container which they mistook to be an explosion! As students and teachers alike ran helter skelter for their lives, the electricity power went off automatically and the automatic glass door failed to open, leading to the death of some six students in the course of the stampede, while several others sustained injuries of varying degrees. Fortunately, the students had a group personal accident policy in place that made it possible for them to access compensation from their insurance company. 

That, however, did not exonerate the owners of the mall from any legal suit for failing to offer a total duty of care to these students. The authorities of the school, then, obtained a court judgement for GH¢2 million in damages from the mall, failure which led to the closure of the mall until payment was advanced in the form of compensation to the victims and/or their families. 

This scenario only gives a vivid picture of some of the reasons all business premises, particularly tourist sites, religious facilities, etc. require a PL insurance.

Public Liability Insurance

Apart from motor insurance, PL insurance is the most common type of insurance taken out by individuals or businesses to indemnify them against any legal liability that may arise from injuries or bodily damage to third parties, as they visit their homes or business offices. Unfortunately, most business owners and public facility owners, including tourist site owners, do not fully appreciate the essence of PL insurance. Indeed, it is imperative for owners of shops, hotels, schools and other public facilities to obtain a PL policy in order to minimise the risk of paying high charges in damages to third parties, as a result of accidents within their facilities. Even businesses conducted at home should consider PL insurance, since the home also becomes the interacting or meeting point with the public.

What is covered?

A PL policy provides cover for a business or a public place so that in the unfortunate event of injury or damage to a third party, individual or property within the premises of the organisation, a compensation will be payable. The indemnity also covers the appropriate legal fees. It must be noted that even a minor damage to essential third party property could lead to heavy fines, which may have enduring consequences to the organisation.

Who needs a PL policy?

The state, tourist sites, every commercial property owner, as well as home owners can buy this policy to protect them against any third party damages. That raises the concern over why state-owned facilities are not compulsorily insured against any mishaps, and this is the time to do so. It is becoming an annual ritual that every year, disasters of this nature occur and the youth whom we consider as the future leaders are hardest hit! 

Claims procedures

For a claim to be admitted under a PL policy, all relevant forms, including medical forms, police reports, details of expenses incurred for being treated, loss of limb, eyes, ears, among others, must be completed and submitted to the insurer for assessment. 

The way forward

For government facilities such as tourist sites, stadia, conference and community centres, among others, there must be a legislation to ensure that PL policies are compulsorily purchased to cover any such eventualities.

The government, in its quest to protect its citizens, must make it compulsory for its agencies such as the Tourist Authority, National Sports Authority, State Protocol etc. in this regard. We are currently witnessing the influx of high rising office complexes, as well as estates. This, therefore, makes it imperative for the policyholder, at the time of taking a PL insurance (which is traditionally a rider on the back of the compulsory commercial property insurance), to ask all the important questions regarding its terms and conditions. Insurers and their intermediaries have an equal role to play, by educating not only business owners but also tourist site managers and home owners on which type of cover would be most appropriate for their businesses and/or domestic needs, together with accompanying benefits and features.

With some of these incidents, it is important for revellers themselves to also begin to ask questions about the insurance arrangements in place when they find themselves at such tourist sites or public places.  

On this note, may I ask, ‘When was the last time you heard anything about Kintampo being discussed anywhere?’ Yes, for you it is past and gone, but it is still very fresh in the hearts and minds of grieving families! Let’s protect all!


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