Life microinsurance as a risk-coping mechanism for Canadian households
Every household encounters some unexpected costly event at some point in time. The death of a family member seriously affects the household’s finances. Not only are funerals expensive but also, if the deceased individual contributed to the family’s total income, the family needs to reallocate its resources to deal with that shock. Many times, even when family members use all their savings, it is not enough to cover the full cost and they must look elsewhere. Having insurance could be an enormous help to families and would not put them in a situation where they use all their savings. Unfortunately, even with an established insurance culture, not everyone is able to afford insurance. Life microinsurance has been used in many developing countries to help low-income individuals deal with such unexpected events. However, there is little knowledge of whether and how microinsurance can be used in the context of a developed country like Canada. To address this knowledge gap, the Risk and Insurance Studies Centre (RISC) at York University collected data to assess the risks faced by low-income individuals in Canada and their risk management strategies. These data would help identify the potential market for microinsurance and help design an insurance product to meet the needs of Canadians. This paper looks at how life microinsurance can be used as a risk-coping mechanism for Canadian households. Life microinsurance has the potential to be successful in Canada. As long as Canadians are willing to pay the proposed premiums for the product and do not have negative attitudes toward insurance, it would be profitable. Due to the fact that life microinsurance is relatively easy to provide, it could be an opportunity to transfer any successful approaches to other lines of business.
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