Microinsurance: Communicating with Communities in Fiji

October 29, 2010

A diversity of community based organisations met yesterday to learn about microinsurance and help map the next steps forward for bringing the product to Fiji.

The event was an information exchange and consultation, co-hosted by The Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme(PFIP), and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), with funding from AusAID. It was designed to assist these community based organizations in identifying several potential partners that are interested and capable of serving as distribution channels.

The event began with a video and presentation from PFIP on the key concepts of microinsurance. “At PFIP we view microinsurance as a crucial tool to alleviating poverty in Fiji. Given this, it is very important that the organizations working with low income communities understand how it works, so they can help communicate its value”, explained Mike McCaffrey, Technical Specialist for PFIP.

Dennis Garand and Jo Tayag, are international experts on microinsurance, currently working for ADB. They highlighted several viable microinsurance products that have been successful around the globe and explained how similar products could be successful in Fiji if the right partnerships are made with community based organisations. “Microinsurance products are sold to low income communities by people they trust. Therefore our task to find an organization in Fiji that both has a large network of low income members, but most importantly has a strong trusting relationship with those communities”, detailed Mr. Tayag. Mr. Garand highlighted the presence of mobile money networks and the ability to use these platforms as means to make payments for microinsurance products.

Ms. Elenoa Fonolahi Ralulu, representative form Soqosoqo Vakamarama, thought the discussions to be very interesting and highlighted the importance of surmounting the remaining challenges to offering microinsurance. “There is great potential for microinsurance in Fiji and it will be very beneficial for indigenous communities as we are so used to dealing with family emergencies on ad-hoc basis.”

“I think microinsurance will be a great product for rural and low income people as it will help people out of poverty and assist them in areas that are often neglected like sudden deaths in the family, accidents, emergencies and other unplanned events,” stated Tevita Ravumaidama, representative from Partners in Community Development (PCDF).

Consultations by ADB and PFIP will continue with various partners until next week with the goal of producing a detailed scoping and costing document for microinsurance interventions with commercial providers in Fiji, and rural communities.

The event concluded by highlighting the need of aligning common issues, that is, importance of communication, the need of identifying and managing the right partners in the community, capitalizing on the existing channels and designing specific microinsurance products to suit the various communities in Fiji.

PFIP is funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), European Union, and the United Nations Development Programme Pacific Centre.