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7th International Microinsurance Conference 2011

Number of insured low-income people approaches half a billion

According to research released at the 7th International Microinsurance Conference, which took place from 8 – 10 November 2011 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the number of insured low-income people has increased to just below half a billion. With India accounting for 60% of this number, Craig Churchill, Chair of the Microinsurance Network, believes that “Brazil can become the India of Latin America”.

This year’s conference, hosted by the Munich Re Foundation and the Microinsurance Network and supported by the Brazilian Confederation of Insurers (CNseg), the Superintendence of Private Insurance (SUSEP), GIZ/BMZ and Georgia State University, welcomed over 400 microinsurance experts from 52 countries. The number of participants has grown significantly from the 90 people that participated in the first conference in 2005, and the event now represents the largest gathering of microinsurance experts in the world.

The agenda of the conference addressed a huge variety of topics that are fundamental to providing good-value insurance products to low-income populations. Topics such as technological innovations, how to protect the poor against natural disasters and success factors in public-private partnerships were among the many discussed in the 22 different sessions during the three days of the conference.

The diversity of the participants is another factor that makes the International Microinsurance Conference stand out. Representatives from all the various stakeholders were present at the conference with over 40 % of the participants representing the insurance industry.Most significant were 23 national regulatory authorities from countries around the world. This growing interest from governments demonstrates how the benefits of microinsurance on low-income populations are being recognised at the highest levels. Dirk Reinhard, Vice Chairman of Munich Re Foundation and Chairman of the Conference Steering Committee said: “The conference provides a platform for all types of organisations involved in microinsurance to share lessons learnt and highlight the different experiences. By providing this platform, we hope to ensure that insurance for low-income populations is constantly being improved all along the value chain, whether through improving access by focusing on distribution channels, adding value via product development, or innovations in consumer education.”

The academic track sessions, which are hosted by Georgia State University, provide a forum for researches and academics to present their findings in front of the microinsurance community, or more specifically to those offering insurance in the field. The physical meeting of these two very different stakeholders provides a unique opportunity to learn from each other and address issues from different angles.

The conference also saw the publication of a teaser chapter of the soon to be published “Protecting the poor: A Microinsurance Compendium (2nd Edition)”. The chapter, entitled “Teaching elephants to dance”, examines the experiences of commercial insurers in the low-income markets, and confirms the findings of the Microinsurance Network’s study, “Commercial insurers in Microinsurance”, that commercial insurers are increasingly entering the market.

The Brazilian context

Brazil represents the largest market in Latin America and according to a report published by the Centre for Financial Regulation and Inclusion (Cenfri), the Brazilian microinsurance market will grow over the next 20 years, from between 23 and 33 million clients to close on 100 million.

Luciano Portal Santanna, the Superintendent of Susep, confirmed Brazil’s commitment to developing the market further in Brazil by announcing that a new microinsurance regulatory framework will be implemented with the next months. It is believed that the regulation will not only reduce the number of unregulated insurance programmes throughout Brazil, but will also lead to increased client protection and enhanced access.

The next steps

With the 7th International Microinsurance Conference now over, the microinsurance community can look forward to another year of activities that focus on providing insurance to low-income communities and implement the lessons learnt. The 8th International Microinsurance Conference will take place in Tanzania, and with Stefan Dercon’s (Oxford University) key note speech of 2011 still fresh in everyone’s ears and his belief that “the lack of insurance is one of the causes for long term poverty”, we hope the coming year will see another significant increase in the number of insured low-income people.



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