UN Head Launches First Community Based Microinsurance Scheme in the Pacific

May 17, 2012

The first ever microinsurance partnership in the Pacific was launched between a community-based organization and an insurance company in the hidden paradise of Savusavu on the island of Vanua Levu. This marks a large step forward for microinsurance in the region, providing low-income and rural people access to much-needed insurance products.

The launch took place in the village of Urata, where local communities gathered to witness the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations, Mr. Knut Ostby, launch the microinsurance scheme. The entire community of 40 villages in the Wailevu District will have access to this microinsurance “funeral” product from Life Insurance Corporation of India (LICI). Funerals can be very expensive in Fiji. This product will help low-income families meet the high, often unexpected costs associated with them. For $14 a year, an insured-person’s family will receive $1,000 in the case of natural death and $2,000 in the case of accidental death.

This innovative, low-cost insurance scheme is specifically designed to meet the needs of people in rural Fijian communities. Mr. Knut Ostby commented, “This funeral insurance cover will greatly benefit the rural communities of Vanua Levu. It transfers the worry, financial burden and risk of a death in a family to an insurance company, in this case, LICI. Some of the insurance payment can even go towards helping the affected family re-establish their livelihood and income after the death of a breadwinner.”
Mr. Ostby added, “This insurance scheme will enable people to better cope with risks they face in their daily lives, leading to more sustainable communities and therefore a brighter, wealthier and more resilient Fiji.

The General Manager, LICI, Mr. Krishnan Narasimhan, expressed, “LICI is delighted with this partnership and is happy to offer something back to the community of Savusavu. I must say that this product has been carefully thought out and specifically designed to cater for the needs and challenges in rural communities. Now everyone can afford insurance, and I hope you can all take advantage of this great insurance scheme.”

The Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) facilitated this partnership and offered extensive technical assistance to both partners with financial assistance from Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid).

PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme helping to provide sustainable financial services to low income households. It is a joint project of the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) and has received additional support from AusAID and the European Union. The programme is based at the UNDP Pacific Centre in Suva, Fiji.