The profits of one of Barbados’ leading insurers have held firm as it prepares for an imminent rebranding.
But management of Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited, saying the company was providing coverage for one in three vehicles on the island’s roads, is concerned about auto claims and the “inordinate and unnecessary” period it reportedly takes getting information to settle these matters in a timely fashion.
ICBL, which is a former government entity and is now owned by Bermuda’s BF&M Limited, recently reported that it earned $11.03 million in net income last year, profits almost equal to the $11.66 million recorded in 2011.
Managing Director/CEO Ingrid Innes did not hide her concern about motor claims and related issues, though.
“Our auto claims continue to concern us with the number of motor vehicle accidents and fatalities increasing greatly. We are very worried about the amount of and the increase in vehicular deaths on our roads and highways and are embarking on a Road Safety Education Programme in 2013,” she said.
“Despite this increase, ICBL’s auto insurance line continues to be profitable and, as we currently insure about one in three vehicles on the island, we remain committed to providing excellent value and superior service for this line of business.”
One big issue the insurance boss wanted resolved though, was current inadequate provision of information from third parties, which ICBL needed to settle auto claims.
“One of our major concerns however, is the process to enable the quick resolution of claims. It currently takes an inordinate and unnecessary length of time to obtain the information required from external parties to settle many of our claims,” she stated.
“This is not only costly but delays the payment of claims to our policyholders. We are committed to prompt claims payments of all legitimate claims and will seek to shorten this process with all the parties involved in the claims settlement process.”
As for the financial performance, both Innes and Chairman R. John Wight said their organisation had performed well amid economic challenges for Barbados.
Wight told shareholders that “2012 continued to be challenging economically in Barbados, and ICBL was not immune to the challenges experienced by many of the Company’s policyholders”.
“We remain steadfast in finding the best way forward through responsible underwriting practices, conservative investing of policyholder and shareholder funds, and superior customer service,” he stated.
Innes noted, however, that although the Barbados economy remained sluggish in 2012, with high unemployment, “we managed to grow all lines of business”.
“We earned $11.03 million on gross premium of $100.47 million despite the increase in auto claims paid and reserved for, as a result of the relatively high number of vehicular fatalities (11) and overall weak investment markets,” she said.
“So too did the slump in real estate values impact our financials as we prudently reduced the value of properties on our balance sheet. We created real value by increasing shareholder equity to $140.02 million in 2012.”
Inness attributed ICBL’s performance to “our focus on excellence in the fundamentals; prudent risk selection, adherence to sound underwriting discipline, broker relationships and management, claims management, customer service and commitment to our corporate strategy”. (SC)