NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Far too many Bahamians were without adequate insurance in the face of Hurricane Dorian, according to Bahamas Insurance Association (BIA) acting chairman Anton Sealy.
Sealy spoke at a press conference to mark the launch of Insurance Month 2020.
“While, as an industry we will be paying out a significant amount of money in losses, the undeniable fact is that far too many Bahamians were without adequate insurance coverage in the face of Dorian,” Sealy said yesterday.
“We as an industry, working with the government must find ways by which more Bahamians can be encouraged and even incentivized, beyond the obvious, protection of your investment, to purchase adequate insurance coverage.”
Sealy noted that to-date the industry is expected to pay out in excess of $1.5 billion in Hurricane Dorian related claims, which could swell as high as $2 billion.
He estimated that ‘north of 50 percent’ of Dorian related claims have been settled to-date.
“The government must also do its part by insuring that the country’s critical assets and infrastructures are adequately covered,” Sealy said.
“This will not only allow for individuals to regain and rebuild their lives quicker, but will also alleviate the stress on the government’s highly constrained budget, and borrowing capabilities. This is especially critical in our southern most family islands, where insurance penetration is particularly low, as Joaquin highlighted.
He continued: “The state of the Insurance Industry in the Bahamas remains strong. In the face of mounting challenges over the past few years, increased regulations and growing external pressures, the industry remains vibrant, yet an under appreciated and respected cog in the engine of The Bahamian economy.
Sealy underscored the insurance industry is a major employer of Bahamians and a significant contributor to the country’s GDP.
Noting that reinsurers are now being called upon to settle billions of dollars in losses in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, Sealy said it is reasonable to expect an increase in future annual premiums.
He said the industry was working with its partners to insure increases are kept at a reasonable level as insurers and reinsurers seek to sure up their resources in order to be able to respond to future events.
Sealy noted that the industry must engage in a more aggressive campaign to educate and inform the public of the critical role insurance plays in all aspects of society.
“We are acutely aware and have articulated previously the issue and vexing problem of uninsured drivers on our streets,” he said.
“Despite the accusations of being self serving, we must work with The Road Traffic Department to adequately address this issue, which has created much hardship for those unfortunate enough to have encountered an uninsured driver in an accident.
Sealy added: “We must continue to agitate for the updating of the building code, particularly as it relates to coastal properties and more robust enforcement of the code.”
According to Sandy Morley, Deputy chairman, Life & Health for the Bahamas Insurance Association (BIA), the industry will feel the effects of Hurricane Dorian for ‘a very long time’.
Morley noted that there is no available data on how many claims have been paid out under the life segment relative to Hurricane Dorian.
“There are a lot of challenges with lives lost and assumed lost.” Morley said.
“Individual members are working through that but the numbers are not readily available,” he said.
Morley acknowledged the challenge surrounding death certificates as there is a seven-year period before anyone can be declared dead in absentia.