Rowell: ‘I could have done better’

Cayman Islands National Insurance Company CEO Gordon Rowell told the Legislative Assembly Monday he was resigning because he hadn’t done the best he could for the national insurer.

‘If I had of done, I think we would be profitable at the moment,’ he told a Finance Committee meeting. ‘Had I managed to change the fee structure on a few contracts, we would actually be profitable today.

‘From my perspective, it’s not good enough.’

But, he added, he was also resigning for a more peaceful life.

Mr. Rowell also indicated that CINICO’s operating loss for the 2007/08 year would be significantly less than earlier forecast – down from $8 million to $1.3 million – but did not elaborate on the point. Health Minister Anthony Eden said the $8 million loss for the 2007/08 financial year included losses carried over from previous years.

He told the house Mr. Rowell had notified him of his departure in February or March, and wished him well.

In a statement last week announcing Mr. Rowell’s resignation, CINICO board Chair Sheridan Brooks-Hurst said the board was still considering Mr. Rowell’s departure and would issue a further press release if and when appropriate.

At press-time Tuesday, Mrs. Brooks-Hurst had not returned calls and emails from the Compass.

CareGuide discussed

During his Finance Committee appearance, Mr. Rowell was also questioned about a contract CINICO had entered into with CareGuide, a US health management company.

Confusion over the financial strength of the company led the CINICO board to ask the office of the Auditor General to prepare a report clarifying the company’s financial position earlier this year. That report was handed to the CINICO board over a month ago, although it has not been made publicly available.

‘We had suggested a company (CareGuide) and the financial strength was questioned, so we had independent verification,’ Mr. Rowell told the Finance Committee meeting.

Auditor General Dan Duguay has previously stated that public documents show the company was in a difficult financial position.

‘I’m charged with reducing costs, or containing costs,’ Mr. Rowell continued, indicating the CareGuide deal would benefit CINICO.

‘We had a publicly traded company that had more connections to South Florida, they were offering more services at a third of the cost, with savings of over $1.5 million dollars at absolutely no financial risk to CINICO and that was why the matter came before the board of directors.’

Mr. Eden said he had been assured there was ‘nothing unusual’ in the Auditor General’s report, a result he said he was pleased to hear.

‘[Mr. Rowell] has brought a lot of insight, despite a lot of criticism and whatever at times despite how things went,’ the Health Minister said.

‘I would say a lot of these were things that they really had no control over.’

Mr. Eden also forecasted an improved financial position for the national insurer.

‘We are feeling more positive that there is light at the end of the tunnel, especially in terms of increasing premiums for the Civil Service.

‘We are in a more realistic position and the losses will not be as much as they were in the past.’

Covering more than 13,000 people, primarily civil servants and retirees, CINICO is the largest insurer on the island. However, CINICO has struggled to control overseas costs that have risen from US$10.6 million in 2004 to US$18.5 million in 2007.

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