Henderson Insurances marks its twentieth anniversary

POSTED: 05/9/16 12:37 PM

 

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The team of Henderson Insurances. Photo contributed

 

Open house  Wednesday

St. Maarten News – Henderson Insurances celebrates its twentieth anniversary Wednesday, starting at 5 p.m., with an open house at its offices in the Amsterdam shopping center in Madame Estate. The insurance broker will make a donation to a charitable cause for the occasion.

“We believe in reaching out to organizations that are going the extra mile to enhance our social fabric,” Neil Henderson says. “That could be done through culture, education, healthcare or for instance providing shelter and food to those in need.”

The open house will not only be a celebration, but also an opportunity for those who walk through the door on Wednesday to schedule free consultations with the company’s advisors.

“We’ll keep our ears closed to the ground; we’re not just selling insurance policies but we want to influence the insurance landscape to help citizens acquire, protect and transfer wealth to the next generation,” Henderson says.

Born in Guyana and raised in Suriname, Henderson came to St. Maarten at the request of his older sister. After a stint at N.C. Wathey Insurances, Henderson ventured out on his own in 1996, not with just another insurance company, but with a brokerage firm.

“Insurance companies follow the wishes of their shareholders and are focused on profits,” Henderson says, “As a brokerage we play an advisory role; we’re able to remain objective and have insurance companies compete for the business of our clients. This gives our clients a stronger position. They’re able to focus on their own business while we battle for what is best in the market in terms of price, coverage and faster and better claim settlements.”

As the manager of his own company, Henderson does not believe in telling people what to do. Based on his vision, employees are expected to use their god given talents to execute their tasks. “People should execute that vision in their own style,” he says.

The insurance business is not without challenges, and Henderson, as the chairman of the St. Maarten Insurance Brokers Association (Siba) has been at the forefront of the fight for a level playing field.

“Getting the political establishment to understand the significant role they must play in establishing good legislation remains a challenge,” Henderson says. “They must enable the supervisory body (the Central Bank – ed.) to do its job of safeguarding the interests of the weaker parties in the financial sector.”

Henderson recalls the dissatisfaction of citizens who had insurance after Hurricane Luis devastated the island in 1995. “That was a clear signal that the landscape of the insurance industry needed to change drastically,” he says. “As a young professional at the time I was convinced that I could bring about a change for the better. That is the reason I started my brokerage firm twenty years ago.”

Hurricane Luis had what some might see as a remarkable effect: a thirst for insurance. “The awareness about the benefits of buying insurance was at its highest point since Hurricane Donna in the sixties of last century after Hurricane Luis. The real challenge was to establish rules to prevent fly-by-night insurance entities from preying on the public and causing more damage to the industry in the event of another major natural disaster,” Henderson says.

Henderson Insurances has brokered insurance packages for major clients on the island. Among them are the pension fund APS, the St. Maarten Medical Center, Island Water World, the Postal Services, Gebe, Winair, the Cadastre, the airport, the Blue Mall, the Chamber of Commerce and the St. Maarten Laboratory Services SLS. Law firms like Hoeve&Rogers, Mariflex and Brooks&Associates are also in Henderson’s portfolio.

Henderson’s approach to the market focuses on advice and education. “We spend more time advising and educating our clients than on attempts to sell them a policy,” he says. “This way we attract and keep our clients for all the right reasons and it sets us apart from the crowd. We are independent and objective and we understand that our existence depends on our clients. If it’s good for the client, count us in.”

At the basis of all insurance activities is legislation. “It must suit the challenges of our times,” Henderson reflects. “Members of Parliament ought to show more interest in how the sector works and in how it could adversely affect our citizens. Politicians are showing great interest in what the industry can contribute during an election – and that is understandable – but when you leave it at that you are effectively creating a sector that could hurt your people.”

Henderson points out that politicians and their families are also a part of the people. “They too will feel the effects sooner or later. Think of the meltdown in the USA and the major concerns of Wall Street in this presidential campaign. We need politicians that want to make their people strong in areas where it matters. This way we will be able to improve the insurance climate in our country.”

As an insurance broker, Henderson believes in the products he sells: “Insurance is a valuable product to protect your assets. If you wish to keep it, or if you wish to transfer those assets to the next generation, insure it.”

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