Christian Science Monitor: Micro coverage a big help for Mexico's poor
A new plan to promote microinsurance could have a ripple effect in the region.
Mexico City - Adela Amaya Chavez never considered life insurance. In fact she had no idea what it was.
But on a recent day when inquiring about a loan at Banco Azteca to repair the leaky drains in her home in Mexico City, she was told that if she paid an additional $2 a week her family would receive $6,000 if she were to die. Her first thought: the death of her nephew in a car accident in 2003 and the devastation it caused his family. "It was so sudden," says Ms. Amaya Chavez, who cleans office buildings for a living.
She signed up.
Once just a safeguard for the middle and upper classes, insurance is finding its way to all sectors of Mexico. For the poorest, microinsurance policies – often simple plans worth tiny sums of money – are giving protection to those Mexicans who work in the informal economy, often don't have bank accounts, and never dreamed of the luxury of having a Plan B.
Asia and Africa have pioneered microinsurance coverage for everything from death to droughts. But a new government-sponsored plan to promote such micropolicies in Mexico – with its sophisticated banking sector and second-largest population in Latin America – could have a ripple effect in the region, experts say. The plan is the first of its kind in Mexico and will focus first on basic life insurance, and later target health and property. What began as a community-based and nonprofit effort is now moving to a commercial venture expected to grow quickly – and could lead millions of Mexicans one step further away from poverty. ...