How can insurance help?
My husband and I recently spent a few days in Vanuatu, mainly in the Port Vila area. Having gone through a huge natural disaster ourselves (Christchurch Earthquake series), we where keen to chat to the locals about their experience in regards of post cyclone aid and support.
What we found out was not really surprising to us but might be interesting to insurance companies!
We were blown away by how quickly the vegetation is recovering, mother nature really has it under control. Even the Ni Vanuatu (Niva), people of Vanuatu still wear a smile in their face, most people we interacted with where in a positive and grateful spirit. Not for nothing that they have been named happiest people on the planet! We could all learn a good chunk from them when it comes to sustainable living! Permaculture gardens in every village, no sprays needed. Housing simply to sustain their basic needs of shelter, an attitude of gratitude and community.
The Red Cross seems to have done a great job supplying temporary shelter, tarpaulins and some first aid. This is matching our own experience from NZ.
What about the government? Niva have mainly received bags of rice from their government, helpful but how about some building material to fix the house or seeds to replant their gardens? Or at least some school supplies to replace what has been swept away?? As we know Vanuatu is TAX FREE meaning they rely on external support to keep their schools going, roads build and so on! A whole other topic!
When asking people if they had any help from insurance companies the common answer was a friendly smile, followed by "we can't afford to have insurance".
Business owners gave us a similar response "Insurance is a waste of money, they never pay when it comes to natural disasters! I prefer to self-insure, while putting a sum aside each month". In fact this was also what we experienced in NZ with our business insurance, no help can be expected. Instead we have received all sorts of excuses why in this particular situation they do not have to help us! Sad indeed.
How can insurance companies make their products more accessible for lower income populations? And how can they improve their track record of pay outs when disaster strikes?
Over all Vanuatu is on its way to recovery, tourism is coming back and life goes on. If you'd like to support them they mainly need school supplies and vegetable seeds to replant what they have lost. If sending money one must choose very carefully who it is sent to! Corruption is common, as highlighted in this previous blog about post-disaster corruption in the Philippines https://openminds.swissre.com/stories/746/
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Climate change, Disaster risk, Floods/storms