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Why NHC contract change?


WADE GIBBONS

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QUESTIONS have been raised as to why the National Housing Corporation (NHC), under Marilyn Rice-Bowen’s chairmanship, changed its insurance cover to another company through a brokerage firm managed by her son, Damian Bowen.
DAILY NATION investigations have revealed that in March 2009, the NHC, in conjunction with the firm CGM Gallagher Insurance Brokers (Barbados) Limited, where Bowen is financial controller, turned over its business to CGI Consumers Guarantee Insurance Company Limited after being insured by Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited (ICBL) for several years. CGM Gallagher was paid a significant commission as brokers.
Yesterday a senior ICBL executive confirmed to the DAILY NATION that the company had lost the business, which he described as an “excellent account”. He said ICBL had given coverage to NHC in the “best and worst of times”.
“We used to keep them covered. I can’t tell you all the premiums, but we covered all the estates, houses and commercial buildings,” he noted.When contacted Rice-Bowen, who took over as NHC chairman in December 2008, said the move to change the insurance coverage was a board decision.
“The board took the decision to give it to a brokerage and it was given to CGM. As a broker they source the better rates for you and what they did, when they were sourcing the rates, they recognised there were instances where we were duplicating premiums . . . . There were areas we were paying for cover that we did not need and we got better rates.
“When the contract was given, I had recused myself from the meeting because my son [Damian Bowen] works at CGM. I was in no way involved in the decision. I had recused myself from the room because of the connection. The decision was taken with me away from the room,” she said.
The DAILY NATION was able to obtain minutes of a March 25, 2009 NHC board meeting at which a decision was made – following the business proposal from CGM Gallagher – to invite additional offers from other brokers, namely Lynch Insurance Brokers and Century Brokerage.
However, the minutes of an April 29, 2009 meeting indicated that Rice-Bowen informed board members that a decision had been made to go with CGM Gallagher.
“The chairman informed the meeting that, notwithstanding the board of directors’ instructions of March 25, 2009 to seek additional proposals from other brokerage firms, a decision had been made to contact CGM Gallagher to work on behalf of the Corporation. The chairman explained that the corporation’s existing coverage expired at the end of March 2009 and so a decision was made to go ahead with CGM Gallagher,” the minutes read.Rice-Bowen was sacked as NHC chairman on July 31.
Efforts to reach Minister of Housing Michael Lashley yesterday were futile.

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