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High percentage of property underinsured in the region — ATTIC

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Association of Trinidad and Tobago insurance Companies (ATTIC) Wednesday said that while “insured” losses within the Caribbean for the 2017 hurricane season are in excess of US$50 billion so far, initial regional feedback suggest a high per cent of policyholders' property and valuable assets in islands devastated by hurricanes were “underinsured”.

Several Caribbean countries, notably Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla, were several damaged when Hurricanes Irma and Maria made their way through the Lesser Antilles last month.

In a statement, ATTIC said 2017 hurricane season has so far been the third most active on record with more than eight weeks still to go before the official end of the season on November 30.

“Thus far, this season has produced more tropical cyclones that any other season except for 1933 and 2004, according to the National Hurricane Centre. Four tropical cyclones formed in September, all of which became hurricanes, with three growing into major hurricanes. That doesn't even include hurricane Irma and Harvey, which formed in August,' ATTIC said.

It said that projected “insured” losses within the Caribbean for the season thus far are estimated on the lower range to be in excess of US$50 billion.

“Losses of that magnitude are expected to “wipe-out” more than 15 to 20 years of profits of reinsurers and insurers, who do business within affected islands. There is also an expectation that for some regional insurers the losses will result in a capital event.”

ATTIC said that reinsurers who do business within the Caribbean have been issuing advisories to the regional insurance industry to plan for much higher rates during the upcoming renewal of their reinsurance programmes.

It said one major reinsurance provider within the market indicated within their advisory that in light of the current and more recent events that have devastated the Caribbean, insurance premiums across the region will increase and have advised that this increase could range from 20 per cent to more than 200 per cent.

“It was further noted that increases will not only be seen within islands affected by a windstorm event this season but all islands. The anticipated increase on each island is also dependent on how under-priced the particular island's premium rates are at this point in time.”

ATTIC said that within the region, insurance rates on average have declined annually for more than 10 years and are currently at historical lows.

It said this was due to a number of factors such as excess investment capital and reinsurance capacity and relatively low loss experiences.

“This trend is certainly anticipated to change over the coming months given recent events. The regional market could also expect some reinsurers to withdraw from the regional or significantly reduce their capacity. This already started last year but with the most recent losses we can expect a bump in the number of withdrawals as well as reduction in capacity for the region,” ATTIC added.

It said that in light of recent experiences it is also advising the public to ensure that they review the adequacy of their sums insured as well as the terms of their insurance policy. “Based on initial regional feedback a high per cent of policyholders' property and valuable assets in islands devastated by hurricanes were “underinsured” and therefore will be subjected to “average,” it said, reminding policyholders that they should have a valuation of their property and assets performed regularly to ensure that their sums insured are adequate.

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