From Left, Madison Insurance Deputy Chairman James Wainana,Madison CEO Joshua Njiru,Commission for University Education CEO, Prof David Some and Madison Insurance Chairman Samuel Ngaruiya.

Madison Group has launched UniPlan, a policy that enables parents, guardians and mature students to save for university and college courses of choice

By Caroline Mwendwa

Think of a child born to a world full of opportunities, yet denied the chance to seize any of them. Such is the plight of an education deprived person.All children are born with immense ability and great potential, they habour dreams and aspirations beyond the skies. However, when reality begins to strike, financial status of the parents becomes a yardstick of how far they can go as individuals. Sometimes, the demise or disability of their benefactors spells doom to their academic lives. With this in mind, Madison Group, a leading insurance company, has innovated a new product, UniPlan which caters for higher education financing.
Speaking about the product at the launch, Madison Group’s CEO Joshua Njiru said :  “As part of our research for Madison’s UniPlan product, we found that nine out of ten  parents interviewed indicated that it was their wish that their children would  make it to university.”  According to him, it was against that background that the insurance sector has played an important role of providing structural financial plans coupled with protection against disability and death to guarantee quality education for children hence guaranteeing their dreams are achieved.
UniPlan is an addition to Bima ya Karo, another product by the underwriter  which takes  care of pre-college financing. “Since its inception, Bima ya Karo has garnered over 100, 000 education policies and in the last one year it was a significant contributor to our revenues,” said Njiru.
UniPlan which comes in to fill the gap of the higher education financing in the country , was applauded by Professor David Some, the CEO, Commission for University Education, who pointed out that the expansion of higher education  institutions,  along with an increase in enrollment  has posed a challenge in funding. He further explained that HELB at the moment funds only 260, 000 students while the enrollment is over 700, 000. “This shows that there is an unserved multitude of students which the private sector is more than welcome to fill. With a product such as UniPlan, the challenge is partly tackled,” he said. Speaking at the event, Prof. Some further said:  “The government plans to implement differentiated unit course figures where the privately sponsored students will pay equal amounts of money with the government sponsored ones for the courses they undertake.” He also recognized that despite the efforts by some players in the private sector in offering opportunities through foundations, they have not sufficiently tackled the challenge, and there is more that can be done by the private sector to make education attainable by all.

How the UniPlan works
This is a policy that enables parents to save funds to guarantee their children’s education in tertiary colleges and universities.  It will be offered in a minimum period of 5 years and a maximum period of 15 years. “The premiums can be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or even annually,” he explained.
Depending on the child’s dream professional career, the plan enables the parent or  guardian to predetermine the cost of his or her child’s  college education and start saving towards it.
The policy is set to cover other expenses apart from the tuition fees mostly catered for by other savings plans. It takes to account the hidden non-fees cost of living. “On average, monthly expenses ranging from airtime, to accommodation, food and medical related bills amount to Kshs 25,000 per month which translates to almost one million in a year,” said Njiru.
The policy however gives the buyer freedom to choose the other benefits after tuition fees, which is compulsory. This allows parents to choose the benefits that best suit their circumstance.

Benefits of UniPlan policy
The uniqueness of this product lies in the fact that it combines insurance protection in case of early demise or disability with an opportunity to earn high returns on investments. In the event of the unfortunate early demise or disability of the parent or guardian before they  realize their  target, Madison Uniplan guarantees to pay the targeted amount towards the college education of the child.
Similarly, in the event of the demise of the beneficiary, the parent has to nominate another beneficiary, which means that the investment cannot go to waste.
Secondly, the savings will earn high returns over the policy period. When saving, the policy also allows flexible funding by allowing variation of the contributions during its term, depending on the consumer’s financial abilities or commitments at different times.
It also enhances vision of the future for children, as the parents or guardians are able to plan for their children’s college education in line with their career dreams.
Being a medium to long-term plan, not only can parents and guardians save for their children, but also mature students can do the same.

A stitch in time
Overtime, university education has been considered a privilege of the well-up or lucky-good performers. Even if within reach to many, at times, the students are forced to forego their career of dream based on how much the parents can afford at that point of need. As a result, despite education being the most powerful equalizer of persons in a caste structured society, financial inadequacy fails it. This definitely aggravates inequality and continued poverty cycles, further widening the ridge between the poor and the rich.  However with this policy, parents and guardians can determine early enough  how the lives of their children turn out, by planning early for their higher education.