Zanaco Plc has called on government to consider making insurance compulsory for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and other emerging businesses for assured cover for life and goods in tragic events.

On Tuesday evening, Zanaco signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Prudential Life Assurance Zambia Ltd for the distribution of Prudential’s market-leading insurance and life assurance products to its more than 1.2 million customers in 69 branches across the country.

Speaking during the signing ceremony of the Bancassurance MoU at Lusaka’s Intercontinental Hotel, Zanaco board chairperson Charity Lumpa asked government to consider making insurance cover for SMEs compulsory to avoid misapplication of public funds.

“With the fires we are seeing burning down markets; we want to actually focus on rolling out insurance awareness, together with Prudential, to enhance the uptake of insurance. This is a very topical issue because government is spending a lot of money rebuilding markets, which really could have been insured and the people there (in markets) instead of waiting for handouts, they could have taken up insurance. So, this is a better opportunity for us to sensitise our customers, especially those that are SMEs and operating in these markets to take Bancassurance; [it’s] affordable and [can] still be covered and protect their businesses,” Lumpa said.

“And you will recall, last month, we had that terrible tragic accident in South Africa and we are hoping that most of those people had insurance, but chances are that are the majority did not have because if they had, they would have had access to immediate medical attention, they would have access to recover whatever investment that they had lost. So, this is what we should be looking at to see how best we can serve the Zambian people with such products, and through this innovative alliance with Prudential and Zanaco, which both have large foot prints in this industry.”

She observed that government was spending money unnecessarily on the reconstruction of markets, which were mostly uninsured.

“One of the ways that the media can help organisations such as Zanaco and Prudential is to put a call-out to government to make insurance, especially at the SME level in the marketplace, compulsory. Just like the way they do third-party insurance for vehicles. That way, government will save itself a lot of money than it is being done currently that each time a market burns down, then government has to re-do the market from a very limited [resource] envelop and also pay the marketeers who have lost, again from a very limited envelop. So, I think we need to put a call-out there to government that make insurance compulsory at that level because it’s affordable. And at the end of the day, government will save themselves that social cost because what they are doing right now is insuring for these people without themselves insuring for the same risk. So, we will need the help of the media in that respect and that will be very good because right now, insurance is seen as very elitist,” said Lumpa.

And Prudential Africa chief executive officer Matt Lilley expressed confidence that the alliance with Zanaco would enable his institution to grow its clientele wider.

“One of the reasons why our penetration is low in rural areas is that they live in far places, so it’s expensive to reach them. But one of the real advantages of this partnership is that we will even have a much wider coverage of customers because Zanaco is almost everywhere, really, and there is no person in Zambia who doesn’t have access to Zanaco. So, we are excited about this partnership. We are passionate about issuance and we want everyone who lives to have protection of insurance. But some people are hard to reach because they are physically far from where we are. So, this alliance with Zanaco is a chance for us to bring more people onto the insurance network,” said Lilley.