by Shawn Cumberbatch
Insolvent British American Insurance Company (Barbados) Limited appears on the way to being rescued by a former competitor based in Barbados.
Having taken over BAICO’s health and property insurance portfolios in 2011, followed by its finalised purchase of that company’s Eastern Caribbean traditional life insurance business more than two months ago, Sagicor is now in discussions with the court-appointed Judicial Manager KPMG to complete a deal to buy out BAICO’s life insurance and pensions lines.
Reliable sources told this to Barbados TODAY, noting the talks with Judicial Manager representatives Lisa Taylor and Michael Edghill were “delicately poised”.
The news has come amid new concerns from policyholders, including a married couple with $60,000 in pensions tied up for the last three years in BAICO, that they are being kept in the dark about the company’s status.
Additionally, Barbados Investors and Policyholders Alliance Chairperson, June Fowler, said ahead of her organisation’s first annual general meeting next week Thursday there was “nothing new” to report to members.
As for the effort by Sagicor to take over BAICO’s business here, an official familiar with the negotiations said there were at a delicate stage.
Sagicor Life Incorporated is already in charge of the court-managed company’s health portfolio, while sister company Sagicor General Insurance Inc. is responsible for the property line. This was achieved via an insurance substitution agreement involving 3,000 policyholders.
One concerned policyholder, who along with his wife have BAICO pensions, wrote to Barbados TODAY complaining about the absence of information for longstanding clients like them.
Calling the matter “a horrible saga”, he said: “Almost another year has passed, and we are quickly approaching three years since the British American was placed under judicial management supposedly to ‘protect the interest of the policy holders’.
“I am beginning to think that the administration thinks that this situation is one big joke, but I am sure that like other policy holders none of us is laughing.
“My wife and I need to move on but how can we with approximately $60,000 of our hard earned money virtually down the drain and no other pensions exactly what are we to do? Depend on NIS? Look where that has got retired persons who were once receiving two cheques and are now only receiving one.
“Three years older, now my wife and I have been left with absolutely no confidence in the system of insurance oversight, and much less confidence in the Government that has been entrusted to take care of all of its citizens, poor, middle class or rich alike. Apparently we are not all in this together,” he added.
Sagicor’s interest in BAICO dates back to early 2011 and the company is now on course to amalgamate BAICO’s business, which serves countries in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States by September. An agreed timetable seen by this publication also outlined a plan to establish a new Sagicor company there to replace BAICO between September and February next year. [email protected]