The New Times (Kigali)

15 April 2014

Rwanda: Why SMEs Should Insure Their Business Ventures

Fires, thefts and natural calamities always catch many a business owner unaware. This could also mean the 'end of the road' for you as a business person as the damage or loss could be huge for you to manage.

That is why all businesses, big and small, need insurance. Though it is still a widely ignored aspect by small business owners, insuring an enterprise should be a top priority for any modern entrepreneur, especially small businesses.

"People should understand that whatever befalls a big business can also affect small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs)," Allen Kalungi, the head of corporate communications at Sonarwa, says. She argues that when small business owners buy insurance cover, they will be in better position in case of a tragedy like a fire outbreak or robbery.

Christian Kabeza, the head of marketing and business development at Alliance Insurance Brokers, says if one secures a loan protection policy, for example, it will protect their dependents, in case of death, from losing family assets to banks. "The policy guarantees security of the owner, the bank and the insured person," he says.

Kabeza notes that insurance ensures sustainable growth of small businesses as they guard against interruptions that could arise from calamities. There are always options across the sector, and in case an insurer does not have the product you want, they can refer you to another firm.

"We deal with many insurance companies and if one cannot cover your need, we can always recommend you to another provider. And the good news is that business insurance is not that expensive," Kabeza notes.

However, the challenge is that some SME operators do not know how to get insurance cover or file for claims. Christophe Hagumakwiha, a cab driver in Remera, Gasabo District, notes that he pays third party motor insurance annually, but does not know how to file for compensation in case of an accident.

"I only pay the insurance because it's compulsory in the country; if it wasn't, I would not pay it," he says. Annie Kanyana, a retail store owner in Kanombe, Kigali, argues that though insurance is good, small business operators do not fully understand the benefits. "People do not even know what kind of services insurance companies can offer them".

Types of insurance cover:

Fire insurance policy is for property owners, those that hold property in trust or in commission, and individuals or financial institutions which have financial interest in all immovable and movable property such as buildings, plant and machinery or furniture.

Theft or burglary insurance policy covers companies' businesses and stock in trade, goods held in trust or on commission against theft. When a business person gets this product, they are relieved of uncertainties, but even if they do occur, one can be compensated based on the terms and conditions they had with the insurer.

General liability insurances basically covers products, premises and completed operations. If a restaurant client suffers from food poisoning, for instance, the proprietor can use this policy to cover the treatment bill. There is workers compensation insurance, which covers employees against injuries, death or caters for retirement benefits.

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