Exploring the Potential of Microinsurance in the Pacific

July 16, 2009

Poor people can rapidly slide further into poverty after an unexpected event like the death of a breadwinner, a flood that destroys the farm or a drought that kills the livestock. Microinsurance, which is insurance designed for the poor, can help prevent these families from sliding further into poverty.

Different elements of microinsurance and how it can be rolled out in the Pacific were discussed today at a special session organized by the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) during the Pacific Microfinance Week.

“Poor people face hugh risk. The risk can be adverse weather conditions that wipe out a crop, or kill livestock. The risk can also take the form of unexpected sickness or death. Poor people’s way of mitigating risks is through informal means like family support,” said William Martinez, Country Manager in the Philippines for MicroEnsure.

“Microinsurance needs to be looked at as an element of poverty alleviation,” he said. Other presenters noted that microinsurance products need to start with the understanding the risks facing poor people and consider how their health and livelihoods can be protected.

Dr Iddo Dror, Director of Operation of the Mircroinsurance Academy explained that people willing to insure their belongings needed to have a relationship of trust with the insurer and they had to make the right choice in choosing an appropriate insurance product that meets their needs.

“Trust, choice and value for money are the three main elements of microinsurance,” he said.

Dr Dror pointed out that the microfinance sector provided one point of entry for microinsurance.

The workshop also heard about microinsurance products that are in place in other parts of the world. These range from weather indexed crop insurance to personal accident family policies. It also heard that microinsurance products evolved over time to better meet the needs of the insured.

The workshop on microinsurance was organized by Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP).