First Research Conference on Microinsurance Princess Máxima, VN Advisor ‘Inclusive Finance’ to open conference with speech

Microinsurance is innovative insurance which is intended to help poor people deal with risks. People who live in poverty are particularly vulnerable to unexpected setbacks, such as natural disasters (droughts, floods, etc.) illness and death. They do not have the reserves to cushion setbacks and it is therefore much more difficult for them to take investment risks. Microinsurance provides a possible solution to this problem. The first Research Conference on Microinsurance will be held on 11, 12 and 13 April 2012 at the University of Twente (UT), the Netherlands. This will be the first time that the topic of microinsurance has been examined in depth by a large group of academics.

Microinsurance is attracting increasing attention from governments, donors, policymakers and NGOs. It is, furthermore, estimated that the current microinsurance market is already worth USD 40 billion to the international insurance market and could reach 2.6 billion people.

A sustainable mechanism is needed

“The attention for microinsurance is in line with the trend of using market mechanisms to enable people on low incomes to participate in development, as producers and consumers. This is, in turn, in keeping with the decreasing enthusiasm for traditional development aid which is currently under fire due to inefficiency and a lack of sustainability. Market mechanisms which arise both through the market and through public-private co-operation, such as microcredit and ‘base of the pyramid’ initiatives (at the bottom of the pyramid, in poor countries, there are 4 billion people who have less than two dollars a day to spend), have been very popular in recent years”, said Karlijn Morsink, researcher in this field. “There is, however, also a lot of criticism on these types of mechanisms (resulting, for example, from the suicides of more than 30 farmers from South East India in 2010 because of ‘exorbitant interest rates’ on unofficial microloans) and it is therefore important to investigate, by means of sound research, how microinsurance can and should be designed and distributed and whether it contributes to reducing the vulnerability of needy people by means of a sustainable mechanism.”

The need for microinsurance is increasing
People in the west can insure themselves against all sorts of risks, but many people in poverty-stricken countries are unable to do so. Because of this, if an accident or disaster occurs, they may have to use their savings or, even worse, sell their means of production, such as their cow or sewing machine, to pay for the losses. Without their source of income they soon revert to their impoverished circumstances and are unable to rise above them.

First Research Conference
During the first Research Conference on Microinsurance, academics will present and discuss the current state of affairs in the field of research on microinsurance. The following questions will be considered: How do you put together microinsurance? and Does existing microinsurance contribute to reducing the vulnerability of households with low incomes? The conference will, moreover, provide a platform for academic discussion between researchers from different disciplines from all over the world. The conference will be opened by Princess Máxima, VN Advisor on 'Inclusive Finance.’

More information
For more information or to register, please contact Janneke van den Elshout +31 (0)53-489 54 32, University of Twente Press Relations Department.