After decades of lobbying, an insurance lifeline could be extended to this island’s fisherfolk.
During a Fisherman’s Day panel discussion Thursday at the Fisheries Division on Princess Alice Highway, a spokeswoman for CGM Gallagher Insurance Brokers (Barbados) Limited said after hearing the concerns of the industry, her company would be willing to negotiate coverage for members of the Barbados National Union of Fisherfolk Organisations (BARNUFO).
However, at least 50 members would need to express interest in signing on for such a move to be feasible, Vice President of Property and Casualty for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Rosalind Bowen said while acknowledging that “there were some concerns before, but now they [insurance companies] are more open to insuring the fishing vessels” at competitive rates.
Earlier, BARNUFO’s Henderson Inniss had lamented the lack of affordable insurance, noting that premiums could range from $10,000 to $30,000 annually for vessels.
As a result of the prohibitive costs, as well as a reluctance by insurance companies to provide coverage, he said only about 20 per cent of fishing boats on the island were actually insured.
“In the industry people have become so frustrated over the years trying to get insurance that some people just give up . . . . But the problem is that with the boats, insurance companies still have the vision of the 80s and the 70s –– that a boat is so high risk – and that is not true,” Inniss argued, adding that the number of vehicular accidents on the country’s roads far outweigh the number of boat accidents each year.
“So this vision that the insurance companies have about boats [is] really antiquated because years ago a boat would go ten miles out to sea and get lost because they have no proper electronic equipment and so on. Nowadays the boats go miles out to sea, spend a month and [return] to Barbados because of the sophisticated equipment they have,” he said.