An NNN-New Vision Special Report by Faridah Kulabako
KAMPALA, Dec 31– Competition in the funeral insurance business in Uganda is heating up as funeral management companies jump into a domain hitherto dominated by traditional insurance companies.
As the business death becomes lucrative, A-Plus Management, a funeral management company, was the first to launch its product, A-Plus Care while a number of others, including Uganda Funeral Services and Kampala Funeral Directors, are in advanced stages of venturing into the business.
A number of other funeral management service companies have also said they would eventually get there.
There are now six funeral management service providers, including Curious Funeral Services, Kampala Funeral Directors, Star Funeral Services and Reliable Funeral Services.
Funeral insurance requires policy-holders to pay annual premiums which guarantee compensation in the form of coverage of funeral expenses. The premiums charged depend on the policy plan and age of the insured person, with the risk exposure being higher among older people and those suffering from chronic diseases.
Depending on the package, funeral benefits range from 1.0 million Ugandan shillings (about 363 US dollars) to 10 million shillings upon death and covers, among others, caskets, embalmment and provision of vigil space, transporting the body to ancestral home, grave-digging and construction and catering services.
Unlike life polices offered by the traditional insurance companies which have age limit and chronic disease clauses, the proprietors of A-Plus Care said their package covered everybody irrespective of age and health condition.
And unlike insurance companies which require relatives of the deceased policy-holder to fill lengthy paper work, including getting death certificates and letters from local councils before they can be compensated, under A-Plus Care, one is compensated as soon as management is informed to facilitate burial arrangements, according to Michael Zaake, who leads A-Plus Business Development.
Olivia Kisubika, the A-Plus funeral management technical adviser, said although it was still a relatively new product on the market, funeral insurance was slowly catching on among Ugandans.
“Bereaved people go through a lot of difficulties to mobilise funds in a short time to finance burial arrangement of their relatives but pre-paid funeral arrangements offer peace of mind and allow the bereaved family to mourn their loss,” she said.
Kisubika explained that there was resistance at the start, but the population had started appreciating the benefits.
Uganda Insurers Association chief executive officer Miriam Magala said people were increasingly going for funeral insurance because of its convenience at death.
“Some people originally thought planning for your funeral would cause you to die sooner, which is not true; it actually saves the family embarrassment and worrying about money in the time of grief,” she said.
Insurance Regulatory Authority communications officer Mariam Nalunkuuma said funeral insurance would boost insurance penetration and innovation in the sector.
General insurance uptake in Uganda is still low, estimated at about 0.8 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), compared with Kenya’s 3.0 per cent, Rwanda’s 25 per cent and Tanzania’s 1.0 per cent.
Magala, however, noted that although it was key to have a last expense funeral insurance cover, it might not necessarily drive the level of penetration. Rather, she said, more specific life insurance and savings products would be required to enhance the penetration rate.
SOURCE: NEW VISION