James Jayomey's Story
James grew up in a cassava farming family in the Volta Region in eastern Ghana. In his late teens, he struggled to complete the required exams to move on past secondary school.
Unable to afford a tutor – and, even with tutoring, a low expectation of securing a rare university placement – James and his family decided that, as the only son in the family, he should leave home for Accra to find work. After a variety of odd jobs, he became a freelance mobile phone airtime agent.
In February 2011, James heard about a new product called Tigo Family Care Insurance. Even though he had never owned an insurance policy before, he thought the product sounded useful and decided to enrol. Tigo Family Care Insurance, designed by Tigo and MicroEnsure and underwritten by Vanguard Life, provides life insurance coverage to the Tigo subscriber and one member of the subscriber’s family, with the sum assured determined by the amount of airtime used on a monthly basis. Because the product rewards customer loyalty, Tigo Family Care Insurance is free to subscribers who sign up with a trained agent in one of Tigo’s customer service centres.
When James enrolled in the Tigo branch at Kaneshie in Accra, he named his mother, Nana, to the policy. At the time, Nana was active on the family farm with James’ father and two sisters. About a month after signing up, however, James’ family called him one evening with some urgent news: his mother had fallen ill with chest pain and needed money to go to hospital. Since James was working in Accra, the family expected him to pay most of the costs. Without the necessary funds to provide medical attention, James and his family watched helplessly as Nana passed away late that night.
Under the terms of many other insurance policies, James’ mother’s passing would not have been covered by the insurance company. Standard waiting periods of 3-6 months protect insurers from paying for all non-accidental deaths. MicroEnsure, however, works hard to make sure that its customers – the large majority of whom have never had insurance before – benefit when unexpected events take place. For a customer, this means not having a claim denied due to an obscure exclusion or condition, or being forced to make a case to an intimidating claims assessor.
The same day his mother was buried in her home village, James called MicroEnsure to report the claim. MicroEnsure helped him to gather two simple documents to verify the claim, and just three days after submitting the documents to the insurer, James received a cheque for 1,000 Ghana cedis (approximately $660), which he had earned due to his Tigo airtime usage. Although he was sad to have lost his mother, James knew that his family would weather the storm brought about by her unexpected passing. When he picked up his cheque from MicroEnsure, James said, “I am excited to show this cheque to my friends and neighbours – they told me they didn’t believe Tigo Family Care Insurance would pay. But I knew that it would work to benefit me and my family, and I’m so happy to have it!”
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