Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean is grossly under-insured, says one senior insurance official, who is suggesting that regional governments develop national policies in order to ensure basic insurance needs are taken care of.
Group Chief Operating Officer of Sagicor Financial Corporation Ravi Rambarran told a recent media breakfast meeting that if regional economies did not urgently put measures in place to cover insurance needs they could continue to struggle due to the impact of natural disasters and people generally living longer.
“Yes, it is a huge task, but it is an absolutely necessary one because natural disasters can really shock the entire region. That is a shock that is manageable.”
He disclosed that Sagicor would be making efforts in the new year to ramp up coverage in “the three key areas of our region that are under-served – pensions, [life] insurance and on the property side”.
“So we intend in the beginning of next year, to also have our own public education campaign on the benefits of insurance and pensions. This is not just a Sagicor issue, this is a fundamental public policy issue in the entire Caribbean,” said Rambarran.
“First and foremost, we will play our role at Sagicor because we believe we have solutions for that problem and at the same time we will partner with those who share that same vision. So we remain open, but definitely we would say to you that a lot of energy has been focused on productivity, a lot of energy has been focused on economic growth, but no country and by extension the Caribbean region cannot have sustainable economic growth without its population being protected through insurance and pensions. It is a foundational issue for sustainable economic growth,” he cautioned.
It is not immediately known how many individuals in Barbados or the Caribbean do not have pension, life or property insurance.
Rambarran stressed it was time for residents to take the necessary steps to ensuring they could rebuild after a natural disaster.
In relation to life insurance and pension, the Insurance executive expressed concern that too many “young families” were still without such coverage.
“The unfortunate part is that people don’t voluntarily buy insurance. The equally unfortunate part is when they don’t they are subject to these shocks in their lives, whether it be illness, premature death, living too long or natural disasters,” he said.
“Certainly, throughout the Caribbean there is significant under-insurance in terms of coverage for the largest asset, the homes of individuals. The next front there is also significant under-coverage for retirement. Current studies demonstrate that individuals can and should expect to live to 80 or 90 years-old. If you are retiring at age 65 or 70 that is a quarter of your life that you are going to spend typically not working. So it is important to make such a provision.”
He stressed that citizens have to improve how their manage their expenses and take greater responsibility for their retirement. (MM)