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LiveBlog: Stability in Times of Crisis with Microinsurance

By Opportunity International

At this breakout session, called “Stability in Times of Crisis: MicroEnsure,” we learned how Opportunity’s MicroEnsure, the world’s firsthttp://www.opportunity.org/our-work/microinsurance/microinsurance[/intlink] intermediary, provides protection against the many risks faced by those living in poverty. Our insurance products cover more than one million policyholders with crop, loan, health, life and property insurance—offering clients a safety net when an unexpected hardship or disaster occurs. The session was led by MicroEnsure president Richard Leftley.

Key points from the session:

    • Earlier this year, MicroEnsure began selling insurance through mobile phone companies
    • They began meeting with church leaders to offer insurance products to people via their church communities–in an environment where the people are most comfortable and trustful of the sellers.
    • To explain the principles of insurance, MicroEnsure produced special comic books in local languages that clients can read, or their educated children can read to them.
    • Life products from MicroEnsure are: credit life, term life, life products sold through savings accounts. They tend to avoid long-term life insurance because Leftley feels strongly that this is not a good value for people in poverty and that in this case, savings accounts are better.
    • Property insurance: Damage and destruction from events like fire, and it can be combined with life insurance products.
    • Weather index insurance: “now in Copenhagen at climate change summit, they are writing in provisions for these types of insurance products.”

“My passion is health insurance. I once thought health insurance was too difficult, but now I believe that it is the most important thing we can give clients. One lady said to me, ‘I’ll only die once, my house probably won’t burn down, but I’ll go to the doctor four or five times a year.’ And she’s right!”

  • Health microinsurance program launched in India, providing $500 of coverage per year, service provided on a cashless basis, costs are $8 per year for one family, pre-existing and maternity coverage from day one. (That means when a woman comes in pregnant, they still sell them insurance, offering it right away.) Providing cover for over 350,000 people. It is sold through microfinance institutions, NGO’s, and church.
  • In India, they’ve earmarked a portion of coverage specifically for girls, because girls have almost no access to health care or health education.
  • “We can also have an impact on how health care is being provided by going and having a chat with doctors who are not giving good care.”

A bit about Richard:

RICHARD LEFTLEY has served as president and CEO of Opportunity’s microinsurance intermediary, MicroEnsure, since it began in 2005. Leftley grew up in rural Africa, living there until he was 16, and his grandparents were missionaries. “This is a tough job, but I feel like it is what God calls me to do.” MicroEnsure also services Finca, Accion, Habitat for Humanity and more.

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