Insurance companies Zimbabwe - Farmers Unions have threatened to expose insurance companies exploiting farmers by collecting fees and failing to deliver services. This comes in the wake of several complaints from tobacco growers over delays by insurance companies in assessing damages to avoid paying compensation.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union second vice president Mr Berean Mukwende said tobacco growers should come forward with names of insurance companies that were causing them problems for farmers unions to take action.
"We will take up the issue with the responsible companies and if they do not co-operate we will not hesitate to expose them and discourage farmers from dealing with them," he said.
Mr Mukwende also urged farmers to deal with reputable companies.
He said a number of insurance companies were emerging and farmers should always check with the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board to ensure that the companies they deal with were registered.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said it was sad that while unions were encouraging farmers to insure their crops, the companies on the other hand were taking advantage of farmers.
He said his union was prepared to assist its members and advised all affected farmers to approach the union's offices for assistance.
"Insurance companies should be honest in their businesses and we expect them to compensate farmers in cases of disasters," he said.
This season there was an increase in hailstorm destruction of tobacco and most of the farmers who had insured their crop expected compensation but most of the companies are reportedly not forthcoming when it comes to compensation.
Nhowe tobacco growers who had insured their tobacco crop with Regal Insurance lost their crop and informed the insurance company but no one visited the affected farmers to assess the damage.
"We have been waiting for the insurance people assess the damage for over a week now but they told us one Zhou who is responsible for the inspections is still busy visiting other affected areas," said Mr John Chikomo of Macheke.
"It is so funny how these people treat you. When they come selling their policies they are very friendly but when we demand services they are not co-operative and even ignore you," he complained.
Regal Insurance senior underwriter Mr Tendai Arumando said his office had never received any reports from Nhowe although the farmer had contact details of the people who had attended to him and also the people whom he had been referred to.
Mr Arumando, however, promised to send officials to assess the situation at Nhowe.
"One of the assessors had gone to a funeral last week and we expect him to visit the affected area when he comes back. The other one was last week busy in Mt Darwin where he was also assessing crops hit by hailstorms," he said.
Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chief executive Dr Andrew Matibiri confirmed having received reports on insurance companies that were taking long to assess damages.
He said although the TIMB did not regulate insurance companies they were supposed to attend to reports from farmers and assess damages within 48 hours.
Dr Matibiri said insurance companies had assured TIMB that they would work professionally with farmers and that they would attend to farmers even during weekends.
"We will take the names of the responsible insurance companies involved in malpractice to a superior body for further investigation," he said.
Tobacco growers have for long beens most business people target the farmers and take advantage of their ignorance to dupe them of their hard earned cash.
By Elita Chikwati