In 1946, the Republic’s Congress created the Guatemalan Institute of Social Security (IGSS), which established several social protection benefits, including accident and illness at work, maternity coverage and health care. However, only employees with a fixed contract appearing on a company’s payroll could be members of the IGSS. Therefore, the self-employed, workers in the informal economy and the unemployed do not benefit from social security and are unprotected from the main health and death risks. Many Guatemalan businesses from both the informal and formal economy do not have insurance. In Guatemala, the only company focused on providing insurance to the popular sector of the economy is COLUMNA, Compañía de Seguros S.A. COLUMNA has its origins in the Guatemalan National Federation of Credit Unions (FENACOAC), which began managing a group life insurance scheme for the cooperatives’ members in 1970. In 1994, the federation and nine member cooperatives created their own insurance company, COLUMNA. This case study analyses the positive and negative aspects of COLUMNA and draws conclusions from them.
CGAP Working Group on Microinsurance