October 7, 2016
by RACHNA LAL, SUVA
A worry that the penetration and uptake of insurance by individuals in Fiji is very low at only 12%
Given only 12 per cent of our population have a form of insurance, efforts are being made to increase this percentage and get more people to sign up for insurance.
Playing a lead role in this is the Reserve Bank of Fiji in partnership with the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme supported by the Insurance Council of Fiji and the Fijian Media Association.
A six weeks media campaign was launched on Wednesday to raise awareness, understanding and the importance of insurance.
The launch was done during a Media Workshop on Insurance Awareness Training organised by RBF and FMA.
The message of the campaign targets working age people who have regular incomes and demonstrates insurance as a risk mitigation tool.
RBF Governor, Barry Whiteside, said the campaign was to address the awareness and education gap in the market to break down these barriers.
“We believe that by working together with you, the media, we can demystify all (or at least most) of the negative perceptions about insurance,” he stressed.
The RBF plans to use the print media, radio and television to publish/broadcast advertisements/testimonials and awareness columns over the next six weeks during this campaign.
Mr Whiteside said it was a worry that the penetration and uptake of insurance by individuals in Fiji is very low.
“It is quite clear that the vast majority of our population is vulnerable to any form of catastrophe which may hit them or their family members at any time,” he said.
“Such catastrophes could include accidents, ill health, the sudden death of a bread-winner, and property damage or loss due to accidents, fire and natural disasters.
“Such events can drive families into the untimely use of their life savings and pension funds, or even to borrow from family, friends, banks or money lenders.
“It often leads to a greater dependence on social welfare and other financial support from Government and the community at large.
“Often this is insufficient to completely and quickly bring back the quality of life that these families knew before the catastrophe.
“Often the burden shifts on others to help. We have all seen this following TC Winston, and in such circumstances the low income communities are particularly susceptible.”
Mr Whiteside said the question that needs to be asked is how do we future-proof ourselves and our country and its citizens against all these risks?
Taking out an insurance policy in Fiji is not the norm for our citizens. The 2015 National Financial Services Demand Side Survey Report noted that just 12 percent of our adult population has any type of insurance cover.
Mr Whiteside said amongst those who claimed they do not need insurance, he believed that perhaps they didn’t fully understand it.
“Clearly with the first two you can appreciate that a lot of work is needed to bring about greater public awareness and education on insurance,” he said.
Another common answer was that insurance was too expansive which Mr Whiteside feels was a pertinent point.
He emphasised a growing part of our financial inclusion work of taking affordable financial services to the excluded and low income communities is being concentrated in the area of insurance.
“You will hear more today on some exciting new products specifically designed for this space,” he said.
Source: Fiji Sun