ICZ commits to protect tobacco farmers from unscrupulous insurers

ICZ commits to protect tobacco farmers from unscrupulous insurers

Staff Writer

The Insurance Council of Zimbabwe (ICZ) says it is seized with the issue of protecting tobacco farmers after it emerged that some unscrupulous insurance firms are not giving insurance cover to farmers in times of trouble.

The council says is has launched an investigation into the matter with hope to put closure to the issue by the end of next quarter.

ICZ chief executive Tendai Karonga told Insurance24 on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe Association of Pension Funds Annual Conference recently that upon conclusion, the exercise should be able to benefit the industry and consumers.

“We are seized with the issues of tobacco farmers. We have heard complains that some tobacco farmers are underwriting with some insurers and when there is a claim they are not getting paid.  We are looking at this situation and we want details of people who have insured with our insurance companies have not been paid.

“These will also help us to see whether they have not been paid because our companies do not have capacity or the tobacco farmers did not provide adequate information for the insurance companies to settle the claim.

“If our insurance companies have low capacity that would mean that we need to engage the regulator to review the capital base. If people have low capital, the reserves will also be low and sometimes will not be able to settle claims for those who would have paid,” he said.

Karonga added that the whole system was under investigation at the ICZ to establish what was really happening on the tobacco industry adding that the growth of the nation depended on increasing agricultural production.

He said there was need to protect the people that were engaging agriculture so that they are able to provide the country with more produce.

“If a farmer grows his tobacco and there is hailstorm which destroys half or ¾ of his yield and he is not compensated, it means he will definitely reduce his hectrage next season.

“We don’t want that and we are doing all we can at our level to see that they able to able to continue producing at their level. To do all these things we need information and that is what is what we are looking into at the moment.

“What we are doing is we are contacting all the agricultural associations at a lower end. There are many of them and we are discussing with them to understand their insurance requirements, why they are not covered and what kind of cover they would want.

“The process is going on right now,” he said. Karonga added that ICZ was bankrolling a series of webinars aimed at raising insurance awareness and are mainly directed at the lower end of the farming community.

“Public awareness means telling those communities what insurance can do for them, how to about it. We are hoping by the end of the next quarter we should have answers and solutions to these questions.

“Already the solutions are being undertaken through the webinars, the awareness campaigns, and the discussion with the various associations so that they can get cover and encourage farmers to come together.” he said.

Tobacco farmers in Zimbabwe have been on the receiving end of the economy with contractors and other unscrupulous business people talking advantage of them.