Pensioner gets $3 from 10-year policy

HARARE - A ZB Life Assurance policyholder was yesterday left furious after the insurance firm paid him only $3 after more than 10 years of religiously paying his premiums.

Jemias Mapingire, a 64-year-old policy holder accused ZB Life Assurance Limited of betrayal and broken promises after he got a paltry $3,69 as maturity proceeds from his endowment policy.

The case, likely to trigger outrage, is believed to centre on an unfair conversion rate used when Zimbabwe allowed the use of multiple currencies from January 2009 to stem hyperinflation which left the Zimbabwe dollar almost worthless in the midst of a severe economic crisis.

The policy matured in September last year, and the subsidiary of Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed ZB Financial Holdings Limited yesterday paid the sexagenarian $3 from the 10-year “unit-linked pure endowment policy.”

Mapingire, who started the policy in September 2002 paying Z$1 565 as monthly premiums, was expecting a payout of Z$187 800 in 10 years without interest.

Back in 2002, US$1 was equivalent to $Z1 000. At that exchange rate, he would be eligible for    US$18 780 as the cash value.

“We refer to the completed maturity application form dated 13 February 2013 and hereby confirm settlement of the maturity proceeds of $3,69 in cash,” said a February 26, 2013 ZB letter to Mapingire.

“The payment represents full and final settlement of all claims under the policy.”

To add to his anger, the monthly premiums were regularly reviewed in line with escalating hyperinflation before even the first compensation was paid — with final payout expected to be in line with the inflation-adjusted premiums.

The paltry amount is a bitter blow for Mapingire, who has been repeatedly promised a hefty payout when his endowment policy matured by ZB during his years as a client.

He said he had hoped that the policy was his best chance of getting the endowment pot and living off his life savings.

Mapingire told the Daily News: “I feel very, very let down, very annoyed and determined to fight on. I can’t even buy a chicken with that $3 they gave me.”

ZB, one of Zimbabwe’s oldest mutually-owned insurer set up in 1961 with a Who’s Who list of policyholders, has failed to pay an overly-generous combination of big bonuses and sky-high guaranteed annuity rates it promised to its customer Mapingire.

ZB corporate communications manager Esther Toto said the premiums received from Mapingire were initially meant to be invested in a pooled investment vehicle comprising principally of shares that were traded on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

“Regrettably, the excessively high inflation that occurred up to February 2009 progressively reduced the ability of his premium payments to buy meaningful units of shares listed on the ZSE,” the ZB spokesperson said.

The fuming folk said the returns he got from ZB, and the amount he would have received if he had invested his money with a rival insurer was“insulting”.

In reality, he said he had lost thousands of dollars, and has had his retirement dreams crushed by ZB. - Gift Phiri, Political Editor

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