June 11, 2018
By Erica Lee
Panapasa Ralulu is counting his lucky stars after being unharmed by a fire that destroyed his home and belongings in July last year. The 40-year-old sugarcane farmer and father of three says that although his family lost everything, he is blessed to be alive and grateful that he was covered by insurance.
“At the time when I was filling out the forms to get the insurance, I didn’t fully understand it or what being covered by insurance meant. To be honest, I’d forgotten that I had filled out those forms and when the fire happened, I felt helpless as I didn’t know how I would be able to rebuild my life,” he said.
A day after the fire, Panapasa received a call from an officer of the Sugar Cane Growers Fund (SCGF) informing him that he was eligible for an insurance payout. Within two weeks, Panapasa received FJD $3,000 from FijiCare Insurance Limited (FijiCare) under the bundled microinsurance scheme that the SCGF had arranged for its members.
Today, Panapasa stands proudly next to a two-bedroom corrugated iron and timber home that he built just two months after the fire. “That insurance pay out really made a difference to me, especially at such a stressful and worrying time,” said Panapasa
The microinsurance scheme was rolled out to 12,500 sugarcane farmers in July 2017, piloted by FijiCare with funding support from the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP). It provides protection for life and funeral expenses, personal accidents, and fire damage to the main dwelling house of a policy holder for up to a maximum of FJD $10,000.
Under the scheme, the SCGF pays $1 a week for each of its members. The fund has pledged to cover the cost for its members for a period of three years in the hope that farmers will get a better understanding of insurance and the value that it gives. Going forward, farmers who would want to continue with the scheme, would have their premiums deducted from seasonal cane payments.
Now, one year since its launch, FijiCare’s bundled microinsurance has already helped 83 families ease the burden of some of the funeral expenses incurred from the sad loss of family members and from damage or destruction of their homes caused by fires. Approximately FJD $330,000 has already been paid out and gone back into farming communities. Money that otherwise may have had to be obtained through loans, selling of farm assets or borrowing from friends and family.
Before this insurance hit the market, a 2015 financial services demand side survey found that only 12% of Fiji’s adult population had any form of insurance. The bundled microinsurance is the first of its kind in the Pacific designed to be affordable for low income earners. Earlier this year, similar microinsurance schemes have been set up for Fijians working in the dairy, copra and rice industries. There are also plans to extend the product to Vanuatu where FijiCare also operates.
Funding for this project has come from the Australian Government and the Russian Federation funded, UNDP administered programme; Disaster Resilience in the Pacific Small Island States (RESPAC).
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