THERE HAS BEEN no notable increase in demand for home insurance despite the significant damage done to Barbados’ housing stock by Tropical Storm Tomas in October 2010.
Anton Lovell, vice-president of the General Insurance Association of Barbados (GIAB), said increased inquiries from homeowners have not translated into new business even with several attempts at public education over the years.
President Michael Holder noted that even though premiums have not been increased, “for a while, people still were not responding”.
“You would figure after Tomas you would see a lot more people coming forward, but I haven’t seen it,” he said.
Government had to shell out an estimated $37 million to repair over 1 000 houses damaged by the storm.
Holder said Government “got a lot of licks” for the pace at which homes were repaired or rebuilt but adequate insurance would have improved the lot of a number of families.
“If you have a $150 000 home, spend a couple hundred dollars per month and pay insurance to give yourself coverage.
“[Otherwise] if there’s a hurricane or storm, you have to rely on Government and these are trying times,” he told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.
Lovell also expressed concern about the number of homes that are underinsured.
“I don’t know that people have sought to increase their insurance in line with what their houses are really worth and would cost to rebuild.
“Your house may be worth $350 000 but for the last ten years you had it insured for $150 000.
“If something happens . . . and the carpenter says to repair your roof is $50 000 but you have [your house] insured for half [the value], your cheque will be $25 000, not $50 000,” he said.
Asked whether this was explained to clients, Holder said: “It is in the policy but sometimes it is [explained].
“The difficulty you have is sometimes a person wants to insure a house and they come into the office; before they finish completing the form, they want to pay and leave.
“They’re not making the time to sit down and discuss their policy – that is part of the concern,” he said.
Both Lovell and Holder stressed the need for Barbadians to understand their policies and how insurance works.