PALIG gets green light for Barbados operationBRUCE PARKER, PALIG’s global life insurance senior vice-president. (FP)
Wed, November 07, 2012 - 12:01 AM
THE LIFE AND HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY in Barbados is about to heat up.
That is because Pan-American Life Insurance Group (PALIG) – a leading provider of insurance and financial services throughout the Americas – announced on Friday that it had received regulatory approval to operate here.
After about 18 months, the company completed its acquisition of majority assets and business of MetLife Alico in Barbados, Grenada and Aruba.
Furthermore, PALIG’s global life insurance senior vice-president Bruce Parker told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that they would be bringing back a level of confidence to the insurance industry here.
“We believe [Barbados] is a prime location for us to come in and become a competitor and we can add to the environment here. We realize that we are coming into an industry that has kind of a black eye right now because of the CLICO collapse,” said Parker.
“We are well aware of the CLICO situation and it certainly has shaken the confidence of the consumer. We believe that [with] PAN-American’s coming in as a highly rated company with over 100 years of experience, consumers will look at [our] stability and see that there will be a new company in Barbados that offers them a little bit different opportunity to grow their personal financial security,” added Parker.
Noting that Barbados was a country with rich insurance history and strong GDP, Parker added that they would be making some “significant improvements” to the life and health insurance industry here and thereby “bring back people’s confidence in the products”.
PALIG currently has over 70 employees, including brokers and agents, for its Barbados operations, which will form about 11 per cent of the company’s overall profit “over the long term”, said Parker.
“We feel that [with] our focus on life and health insurance we can come in and bring value to our current customers and the people of Barbados by offering more competitive products. Product development will be one of our first things to take a look at – and also improved customer service,” he said.
Agreeing that the life insurance industry has been flat for many years, Parker said they would be innovative in their offerings.
“We hope to bring some new group health and group life insurance plans into the marketplace. So we think that is going to be a big advantage for Barbados and we are also going to be introducing international major medical insurance for high net-worth individuals.
“And also on the life-insurance front, we are going to be introducing universal life insurance. So it is a very robust product-development platform that we hope to bring in,” Parker explained.
“MetLife as well as AIG, before its financial demise here, underinvested in the company; they had not invested in technology or products or service platforms.
“And we believe that is our greatest opportunity by getting in and building products that invest in technology and service platforms that give us the best opportunity,” he added.
PALIG is expected to close more acquisitions in other islands over the coming months, and rebranding in Barbados is expected to start over the “coming weeks”.
Noting that it was too early to say what changes they would like to see in the Barbados environment, Parker said they were “working closely with the regulators and getting to know them”.
PALIG is a United States-based group of international insurance and reinsurance companies providing insurance and reinsurance services.
The total cost of the acquisition of the MetLife assets in Barbados and 14 other countries in the Caribbean and Central America represents more than US$675 million in assets. (MM)
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