Portland Fisherman, Kenneth Hanse, returning from sea in the coastal district of Bryan’s Bay, Port Antonio.
Photo: Garwin Davis

When it was announced that fisherfolk and farmers registered with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will soon be able to benefit from health and life insurance coverage, no one was happier than Kenneth Hanse.

The 61-year-old Portland native, who has been fishing since age 10, tells JIS News that he is grateful to Portfolio Minister, Hon. Floyd Green, for lobbying local financial institutions’ support for the insurance package that will provide them with protection in what many see as one of the most challenging yet well-needed jobs.

“What often goes unreported is how many fishermen have lost their lives at sea each year and with absolutely no protection for their families… not even for the funeral expenses,” he notes.

Mr. Hanse, who plies his trade using a raft, says the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made the work of fishermen a lot more attractive, if not appreciated, noting that, nowadays “we don’t have enough fish to satisfy the demand”.

“The news that Sagicor has come to the rescue by launching an insurance programme for farmers and fisherfolk is long overdue. For this, I have to thank Minister Green, whose determination to see this through has been paid off where, today, people like me can put a big smile on our faces,” he adds.

Mr. Hanse, who is a part of the Port Antonio fishing colony and frequents the Bryan’s Bay coastal area daily, says it is clear that the Government and public at large have now been unified in their respectful approach to the fishing industry.

He adds that “at long last there is now a basic understanding… at least seemingly… of the dangers we face day in and day out… and the great service we have been providing for decades to the nation”.

Mr. Hanse says the fact that the island’s more than 26,000 registered fisherfolk will now be insured will motivate them “to be and do the best we can, ensuring that we show our gratitude to meeting the demands of the people of this country”.

“The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy on anybody. Many persons have been afraid to leave their houses and are grateful for the personal home delivery service being provided by many fishermen… to their customers… on time and sometimes at no extra charge”.

Minister Green last month announced that farmers and fisherfolk will at long last be insured.

Since the announcement, Sagicor launched what has been dubbed as “its first of a kind insurance programme in Jamaica”, which was greeted with much fanfare and praises by both the agricultural and fishing sectors.

The programme, dubbed AgriCare, became effective March 1 and will see the island’s 220,000 registered farmers and 26,000 registered fishers being eligible for a package of benefits.

“The Ministry saw the implementation of this programme as a critical part of providing financial protection to our registered farmers and fishers. All registered members of the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and their dependents are eligible to enrol under this Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries/ Sagicor Fisherfolk & Farmers’ Plan,” Minister Green said at the virtual launch at Sagicor’s head office.

Under the insurance programme, farmers and fisherfolk can choose the benefit package that suits their individual needs.

These include a Group Major Medical Plan that covers the usual surgery and hospitalisation benefits with coverage for chemotherapy, radiation and dialysis; a Full House Plan that provides funding that can be utilised to purchase certain primary-care benefits (drugs, dental and vision, doctors’ visits and consultation); a Group Critical Illness Plan that provides lump-sum coverage in the event that the member is diagnosed for certain critical illnesses; a Group Life Plan that provides coverage in the event of death of the insured member and a Group Personal Accident Plan that provides the insured member or their beneficiaries with certain benefits arising from an accident.

“We are providing insurance coverage so they are better placed to secure their livelihoods. This should be quite manageable and also affordable, as Sagicor will facilitate premium payment in either four equal quarterly payments payable at the beginning of each quarter or two equal semiannual payments payable every six months,” Minister Green added.

The insurance plan is a customised bundle of benefit products offered by Sagicor to all registered fisherfolk and farmers of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

“This is the start of a new beginning… the best of times for fisherfolk in this country. This has been a long journey, but finally we can see that rainbow and also that silver lining,” Mr. Hanse adds.

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