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Insurance firms face millions in flood claims

John Sealy

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CLAIMS FOR PROPERTY and vehicle damage from insurance companies may run into millions of dollars following torrential rains, especially on the West Coast.
According to general insurance executives, notifications have already been filed, with one agency reporting as many as 30 in the past two days, mainly from homeowners.
“Companies are already receiving notice of claims from clients though we don’t know how bad the situation is and how much it will cost the industry yet,” said Davis Browne, president of the General Insurance Association of Barbados.
Browne could not provide a comparative number with any other period of severe flooding, but suggested claims from the low-lying West Coast could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Wherever there is flooding and water damage to contents, those kinds of claims are coming in. They are taking a bit longer than the motor claims because estimates have to be obtained for the replacement of items, but we are getting notification on those, and that perhaps will be higher than the motor insurance.
“That would be a few million dollars in claims that we can expect coming out of the recent floods.”
He said the payouts, from a catastrophe perspective, were minor and he did not see any real serious impact on rates here.
“What will perhaps happen is that rates will flatten out where they are right now, and I don’t anticipate with the floods that we had there will be [an] increase in rates.
“What may happen is that there may be some adjustments to underwriting of risks in flood-prone areas, but generally across the board I don’t anticipate any increase in rates,” said Browne.
Chris Grosvenor, claims manager of United Insurance, said his were mainly property claims.
“We have close to 30 notifications so far, and the majority are property owners. We have a few vehicle claims as well.”
He said visits were usually made in the immediate 24 hours and householders were advised not to dispose of any items and to take photographs if necessary.
David Alleyne, general manager of United Insurance, said although the flooding had been serious over the last couple days, United had responded to hurricanes and floods throughout the Caribbean and “so our procedures have been honed by that experience”.
 Grosvenor noted that though the number of claims was “a fair amount” he did not think it was as bad as the 1995 flood.