Homeowners have been given a stern warning that if they do not insure their properties Government will not help them rebuild should they suffer damage during this hurricane season.
Minister of International Business, Industry, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss said he was concerned that Barbadians were still not taking insurance seriously, leaving their properties either uninsured or underinsured.
Inniss said this was evident when Tropical Storm Tomas struck in 2010, tearing roofs off several buildings.
The minister told the launching ceremony of CGM Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited’s customized Condominium Insurance Policy that the country was still “dealing with the ravages” of that storm.
“What is instructive is for us to reflect . . . and ask ourselves if we have adequate insurance, and for those who do not yet have insurance please get some. I say this with all sincerity as a parliamentarian and as a minister we are still dealing the ravages of [Tropical Storm] Tomas and those Barbadians who did not insure their properties or didn’t have insurance,” Inniss said.
In March of this year one family complained to Barbados TODAY that five years after the storm they were still waiting for help from the Government agencies responsible for assisting the dislocated families.
Leon and Juley Murrell, whose house once stood at 2nd Avenue, Vauxhall, Christ Church, said at the time they had been shuttling back and forth between the National Housing Corporation and Rural Development Commission, having not been able to benefit from the Catastrophe Fund which had been established to bail out needy persons affected by such disasters.
Inniss warned Wednesday night that the attitude adopted by Barbadians that God is a Bajan often led to complacency and unpreparedness.
And he emphasized that it was not fair to expect Government to bail out those who chose not to protect their assets.
“There are those who like to say at this time of the year that God is a Bajan. He is also a Chinese and they had a lot of flooding and damage in China recently. I guess God has every nationality to take care of, but the God I know would also ask each one of us to at least make an effort to help ourselves first.
“And what concerns me is the number of Barbadians who may have the wherewithal but seemingly not prepared to take insurance seriously. And then when something happens you expect your parliamentarian or the Government to find money to fix your house. But let us face reality; those days are not going to happen [again]. We really and truly need all Barbadians to recognize that this is your asset and you must make that investment in terms of protecting it,” Inniss reiterated at the event, which took place at Buzo Osteria Italiana Restaurant.
The Member of Parliament for St James South welcomed the new policy, saying as the industry evolved insurance companies would have to offer new products to the dynamic market.
With insurance rates said to be falling, CGM Gallagher launched the niche product with the hope of breathing new life into the industry and capturing a large segment of the market that was traditionally insured under the homeowners policy.
Group President William Tomlin said the new insurance policy was designed to help condominium owners to minimize their exposure.
He said some major insurance companies had already signed off on the new policy, which took effect June 1, 2016, and he anticipated that other brokers would introduce similar policies.
“Traditionally condominium were insured under a homeowners policy . . . . So we have the ridiculous situation where a condominium building used as a hotel paid a lower rate than a hotel block right next door that was used just the same way, but the insurance companies wouldn’t change it and it remained like that until I was able to persuade a couple of the big insurance to follow a new format,” Tomlin said.
As at December last year there were 21 domestic insurance companies and 23 brokers in Barbados.