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Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme
Friday, February 23, 2018

TUICAKAU Nawaiciono, a 57-year-old retired civil servant, believes more Fijians should think about taking out insurance policies for their family's wellbeing and protection.

Having benefited from two health insurance policies, the ardent supporter of health insurance says it's something many people think they don't need but regret not having it when they need it the most.

"I had a very active career up until the age of 49 when I had to retire early due to my failing kidneys. I was sent to Australia to have one kidney removed and that medical trip was paid for under an insurance policy that was provided as part of my employment in the civil service," she said.

Today, wheelchair-bound and unable to do many of the day-to-day tasks she used to perform with ease, Ms Tuicakau is grateful for having a microinsurance policy that has helped her with her medical expenses, since purchasing the product in August 2016.

Explaining how she became aware of the insurance, Ms Tuicakau said that after being discharged from the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva in 2016, she was told of a type of micro insurance that lets customers pay for the cover through deductions from their mobile phone talk time.

"I was sceptical about the product when I first heard about it. Insurance deducted from an individual's talk time seemed unbelievable to me so I didn't give it further thought.

"Then a few months later, I received a call from BIMA's call centre and was asked if I would like to buy insurance and so I decided to finally give it a go," she said.

"Having had insurance as a civil servant, I was aware of the benefits that insurance brings and I was amazed at how cheap the cost, known as 'premium' was," Ms Nawaiciono said.

During the enrolment verification process, that took place over the phone, Ms Tuicakau told BIMA of her health condition and BIMA decided to put her on a three-month trial basis for insurance coverage. Within that period, her health was fine apart from a few visits to the doctor.

However, a couple of months after being given approval to be fully covered for "cash-in-hospital" and "life" insurance, Ms Nawaiciono said her condition worsened causing her severe body pains and leaving her wheelchair bound.

In May 2017, Ms Tuicakau became BIMA's first claimant under it's cash-in-hospital insurance product. She had been admitted at the CWM Hospital in Suva for 24 nights, suffering from chronic back pain.

Upon discharge, she lodged a claim with BIMA and after only five days, received a $2208 payout.

Cash-in-hospital is a simple and affordable insurance cover that Digicel subscribers can pay for using their mobile credit. It provides up to $96 per night in financial support (depending on the level of cover selected) to registered customers after two nights or more, spent in a hospital. Members only need to provide their hospital discharge forms to receive their claims payouts. The payout amount helps to pay for any kind of expenses incurred before, during or after hospitalisation.

The daily benefits that are paid are linked to the total "sum assured", that is the level of cover selected, in an individual's insurance policy.

For many low-income earning families in Fiji who receive wages daily or weekly, missing work for several days can mean a big loss in income. The financial support this insurance cover provides can be a great relief for families when they need it the most, providing a safety net that can be used to cover the cost of medication or cover lost wages.

"I am glad that I kept paying my $21.60 a month as it meant that I was able to receive financial support from BIMA when I needed it.

"The money helped me pay for my medication, health reviews and transportation to the CWM Hospital. It costs me $25 to take a taxi from my home in Nausori to the hospital in Suva," she said.

Ms Nawaiciono said although during her recent three-week hospitalisation she was told she might not get better, she was comforted knowing she was covered by BIMA's Health and Life insurance.

"I am also thankful my cousin, who is my nominated beneficiary and who has been looking after me for the past nine years, will receive some financial support should the worst happen to me."

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