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Myanmar urged to develop microinsurance for the poor

Insurance services in Myanmar need to reach out beyond the existing clientele to support households with lower incomes to manage their insurable risks, participants at an industry workshop said.

UK-funded DaNa Facility and the USAID’s Private Sector Development Activity jointly organised the seminar on “Promoting Microinsurance in Myanmar” in Yangon on September 9.

“It is very important going forward that we develop microinsurance, as these products will benefit the majority of our people,” said state-run Myanma Insurance managing director Daw Sandar Oo.

Although the domestic insurance industry remains limited, recent legal reforms paved the way for its expansion by opening the market to international competition. However, to ensure the industry is able to meet the country’s development needs, it has to become more inclusive and move beyond its traditional customer base to work for people with lower incomes.

“Myanmar needs microinsurance products relevant for low income people as much as—if not more than—it needs traditional insurance products,” said Tom Coward, Team Leader of UKaid Myanmar Inclusive and Livelihoods team.

The introduction and expansion of a microinsurance market in Myanmar will help to build the resilience of households and small businesses, protecting them from financial and other shocks through products such as health, life, and asset insurance. Microinsurance is a powerful tool that can help millions of people to avoid unexpected shocks.

“Uncertainty prevents people from trying new things, such as mobile money, upgrading work tools, or investing in their household. The more vulnerable the family, the stronger this effect,” added founder and CEO of Stonestep Brandon Mathews.

Swiss micro-insurance technical services company Stonestep AG announced last year an investment of $1.1 million to develop several new microinsurance products in Myanmar.

Both USAID and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) are supporting Myanmar authorities to develop the insurance industry. From USAID, this support has included assistance in drafting the new Insurance Business Law, along with capacity building support for Financial Regulatory Department staff to undertake supervision of a rapidly growing insurance sector. DFID’s DaNa Facility meanwhile has been working to promote microinsurance, including through grant support to Stonestep.

Source: Myanmar Times

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