Siba President underlines importance of spreading risk – Henderson signs deal with new insurance companies

POSTED: 11/26/12 2:06 PM

GREAT BAY – “We must understand the importance of spreading risk. It would be a bad day for customers if they woke up one day and realized that Pointe Blanche or Beacon Hill was no longer there, and that they had to stand in line waiting for a settlement from one insurance company. It would be an equally bad day for that single insurance company having to settle all lone. One of the fundamental principals in insurance has been and remains spreading risk – hence terms like retention, re-insurance, facultative placement, and layers.”

With these words Neil Henderson, founder of Henderson Insurances and President of the St. Maarten Insurance Brokers Association Siba, welcomed the Insurance Company of the West Indies ICWI and the New India Assurance Company as new partners in the sector. The two insurers have been admitted into the local insurance market by the central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten and they are now also under the bank’s supervision.

During a cocktail party at the Belair Community Center, the ICWI’s vice president of international business development Gerard Mendez and New India chief operating officer Rajiv Kumar Singal signed an agreement with Henderson who is now able to offer products from these two companies to its customers.

“I am responsible for the financial wellbeing of the country,” Finance Minister Roland Tuitt told the audience. “If we have a good functioning insurance industry it can go a long way in keeping the economy intact. If the industry is not functioning properly it tells me that clients can suffer financial losses for which there will be no settlements. This places an extra burden on our social budget, with all the associated tax-hike implications.”

Minister Tuitt said that “the substance of the policy” that regulates the insurance industry under the Central Bank’s supervision requires some special attention, though he did not elaborate on the details.

Insurance companies have to take market demands and customer-expectations into account, the minister said. “Taking the market demands and the specific needs of customers into account, coupled with some simplified insurance language would go a long way towards improving the understanding of the insurance industry,” Minister Tuitt said. “I am confident that this will result in more people seeking solutions for some uncertainties through insurance products.”

The minister applauded Henderson Insurances “for its tireless efforts in helping to shape the industry from a proactive approach.”

Henderson said that the easiest point of reference for the insurance industry in St. Maarten is Hurricane Luis that hit the island on September 5, 1995. “since that time we have been seriously challenged finding insurance companies willing to commit to St. Maarten and go through the growing pains of developing products that would meet the growing need of families.”

Those needs are diverse, Henderson said. As examples he mentioned car insurance with additional hurricane coverage, the needs of small businesses and investors in large projects, and of the government to protect its infrastructure, or finding medical coverage for students abroad.

Getting back to the topic of spreading risk, Henderson said that “in worst case scenarios no customer should be told: oh, we are sorry, but the money done. We just paid the last 10,000 to Fernando Clarke. You know Fernando is quite outspoken and he will get his money no matter what.”

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