Takaful operators in the country have been urged to come up with more innovative and better products for the lower-income or B40 group.
Zurich Takaful Malaysia Bhd chief executive officer Mukesh Dhawan said holistic efforts by industry players to serve the B40 segment could support Bank Negara Malaysia’s objective of 25 per cent family takaful penetration under its Financial Sector Blueprint 2011-2020.
“As the country develops, you do get worried about the bottom of the pyramid. Hence, it is very logical for the Prime Minister (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) and the country to start thinking about the B40 group,” he told Bernama.
He was asked about takaful companies’ approach to increase the penetration rate among the B40 group in order to improve their quality of life.
Early this year, the government launched the mySalam B40 National Protection Scheme, which provides takaful protection for the group.
The scheme helps them to deal with financial difficulties arising from admission to government hospitals or when they are diagnosed with one of 36 critical illnesses.
On its part, Mukesh said Zurich Takaful has opened up meaningful channels to reach out to the group with affordable plans based on their protection needs.
“Their needs and their awareness have grown. Therefore we’ve recently tied up with a very popular retail chain, MYDIN Mohamed Holdings Bhd (MYDIN), as most of the B40 segment go there to shop,” he said.
Under the 10-year partnership with MYDIN, Zurich Takaful will be present in selected MYDIN retail outlets located in semi-urban, urban and small towns, where customers can easily participate in takaful plans that suit their needs.
“If you ask (customers), why you didn’t buy takaful protection, the most common replies are, ‘It is difficult to understand’ or ‘I don’t know what it will do to me’ or ‘If I spend my money in paying contributions, is it meaningful?’”
However, Mukesh stressed that its takaful specialists are able to advise MYDIN customers on the right products in a simple manner to motivate them to obtain takaful coverage.
On the need to embark on mental health protection further, Mukesh said takaful players need time to explore the right definition of mental health.
“The mental illness definition is undocumented while ‘disability’ has a broad definition. Amputation is also a disability, hence we want to seek clarity from all the right stakeholders in the country on how we should define mental illness,” he said.
In May, social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the Health Ministry needs to take serious steps to address growing concerns over mental health issues.
Lee, who is patron of the Malaysia Psychiatric Association, suggested that insurance coverage be made available for mental healthcare and treatment.