Insurers busy before cut-off

Cayman’s home insurers stayed busy as Hurricane Dean approached.

Insurers started closing off for new business and increases in coverage on Thursday.

Rob Stewart, chief underwriting officer at Island Heritage Insurance said his company experienced an increase in requests for insurance,

‘We had some people who didn’t renew, or had their policy lapse entirely, and now that the storm is on its way, they’re rushing around trying to get their coverage,’ he said.

Mr. Stewart said some people where surprised to have found out the rates quoted to them earlier in the year had increased.

‘They are fully aware of the increased risk, which is why they were coming to us now in the first place, but they couldn’t understand why we would increase our rates in fact of that increased risk.’

Island Heritage stopped writing new business and increasing coverage Thursday morning. Mr. Stewart said the company usually stops writing new business.

‘Three to four days before a storm, if it were within the cone of expectation, would normally be sufficient,’ he said. ‘But with this one, all the models showed the storm coming here or very close to here from early on after it came off the coast of Africa.

Fidelity Insurance did a brisk business last week and even wrote some business as late as Friday morning, said Vice President and Regional Marketing Manager Tom Gammage.

‘We just stopped last night for one of the carriers,’ he said, speaking of new business and increases to existing policies.

‘We just stopped minutes ago for another couple carriers,’ he added in the Friday morning interview.

Mr. Gammage said the primary reason the company stopped writing new business when it did was to ensure it got all the new information on the computer system, so that its data could be backed-up and shipped off to another jurisdiction for safety.

‘If you took new business right up until the last minute, you would never get all that information inputted.’

Donald Jackson at Islands Insurance Brokers was also busy backing up data on Friday morning after a busy week.

Mr. Jackson said he normally sees an increase in business when a storm is approaching.

‘We had some people who procrastinated and finally made up their mind at the last minute,’ he said.

Insurance companies were already looking beyond the eventuality of a damaging Hurricane Dean.

Island Heritage had already been in touch with loss adjusters.

‘The have forwarded a list of names of the main people who are coming and we’ve sent it to Immigration,’ Mr. Stewart said. ‘That way they can do everything they can to facilitate the arrival of the absolutely critical people to the island.’

Mr. Stewart said he hoped all insurance companies learned the lessons from Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and that they have adequate reinsurance.

‘I know we’re better protected with our reinsurance programme than we were then.’

Mr. Stewart said hurricanes are part of the insurance business.

‘It’s more worrisome from the individual point of view – with our staff and everything – than from a business point. We know there are hurricanes every year.’

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