The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Insurers Ready to Compensate Quartier Mateus Fire Victims

Insurance firms are prepared to compensate traders whose goods were destroyed by fire in Kigali's major trading centre, known as Quartier Mateus, last week.

Six shops on a busy section of the trading centre were gutted by a fire whose cause the Police are still investigating. One of the shops, owned by Florence Umusasirwa, was insured by Soras Group.

Her merchandise was initially valued and insured at Rwf100 million. She now has to present, among others, proof of the value of her goods at the time of the fire to help the insurance company compute her stock's worth at the time and pay her in that regard.

Charles Butera, Soras' underwriting director, told The New Times that when Umusasirwa presents requisite paper work - invoices and other evidence certifying ownership of the business - they will pay her "in between three and five days."

"For us, we are ready to do our part. The problem is that most often, people don't know what they are supposed to do; we have called her and informed her about the procedure," Butera said.

Meanwhile, this paper has learnt that two of the burnt shops in the building had not renewed their fire insurance coverage by the time of the incident, leaving traders counting losses.

Low insurance penetration:

Not many traders are keen to cover their merchandise against fire, and this is the same scenario when it comes to other forms of insurance.

However, Butera said insurance for businesses is as good as the country's general health insurance.

"A lot of awareness drive is still required. We have severally appealed for a mandatory law compelling the public to insure against incidents such as fire and others," Butera said.

"We put in effort to educate people but they really do not heed advice. It is true we are in business but we are also providing a vital service. The few who are insured do so because they are obliged to do so by banks when applying for loans."

This, too, is not watertight as, after getting a loan people often do not renew their insurance, Butera said.

The insurance expert called on government to come in and encourage businesspersons to insure their stocks.

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