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Discussing Microinsurance and Natural Catastrophes: RFPI Asia represented in Latin America’s largest Microfinance Conference

Santiago, Chile, October 28th, 2015

Santiago de Chile, 26-28 October. The Foromic, Latin America’s largest Microfinance Conference has been organized by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), member of the IDB Group, since 1998 and held a total of 16 forums. For the more than 1,000 Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in Latin America supporting an estimated 20 million clients and providing over $37 billion in loans annually, this is the annual directory event.

Dr. Antonis Malagardis speaking at the FOROMIC panel discussion.

Microinsurance was again one of the key innovative fields of discussion - focusing on natural catastrophes in 2015. For the Latin American MFIs natural disasters have painstakingly become reality in 1998 when the Hurricane Mitch devastated the microfinance industry in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Thus, the industry has shown increasing interest in finding ways to help microentrepreneurs, low and middle income people as well as MFIs to overcome the hurdles that this type of disasters cause.

Dr. Antonis Malagardis was invited against this backdrop to share the experiences made in the Philippines after typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) with regards to the role of Microinsurance in a panel discussion: Typhoon Yolanda has created a unique example and business case for Microinsurance Works!, underlining its role as an effective tool available to countries to respond to natural disaster. The measures taken by the insurance providers of the Philippine insurance landscape were able to allow for rapid and effective claims treatment, supported by the Insurance Commission, who also relaxed documentation and administration regulation. These efforts have become known as an exemplary response from the side of microinsurance in case of natural disaster.

Other distinguished panelists brought perspectives related to consumer protection when facing a natural disaster, the benefits of a “meso-scheme” by which the insured party is the microfinance institution and the possibility of envisioning emergency and reconstruction plans from the side of MFIs. For Chile’s microfinance sector represented in the audience, learning on how to implement these types of products and experiences is highly relevant, given the frequent occurrence of natural disasters.

The frame of the Foromic was also an opportunity to discuss the “Diagnostic Toolkit on Insurance against NatCats for MSMEs in the agricultural and mining sector”, continuing the consultation process with practitioners from different sectors and institutions in Latin America.