Name change approved, Cayman First looks ahead

The new board of directors of the
recently sold Sagicor General Insurance (Cayman) Ltd approved its name change
to Cayman First Tuesday, and the insurer hopes to begin trading under its new
name, pending government approval, next week.

Michael Gayle, senior vice
president, property and casualty, said that since the acquisition of Sagicor
General by Bahamas First in June, the company has been going through an
integration process.

“From our point of view, it’s going
well,” he said. “Customers have received the news very well and are looking
forward to the new products we’ll be able to offer, and the staff are very
excited.”

Mr. Gayle said Cayman First would
offer certain products that Sagicor General did not offer.

“Travel insurance is one of the
things we’re looking at,” he said. “Professional indemnity insurance and marine
cover are others that will come over time – and a few others.”

In addition, Mr. Gayle said Cayman
First would be seeking to enhance some of the products it already offers, like
motor policies.

Before the new products are
launched, Cayman First wants to let the various challenges of merging two
company cultures settle down.

“In the short term, we want to get
the integration put to bed,” he said.

Staff retained

Mr. Gayle said the entire staff of
Sagicor General had been retained in the merger. However, he said a two
employees from Sagicor Captive Managers, a subsidiary company that was sold to
Sagicor Life of the Cayman Islands, went over to the life insurance
company.  He said any staff changes going
forward at Cayman First would occur as a result of natural attrition.

One of the benefits for staff will
be more and better training opportunities in the Bahamas and in Canada with the
Economical Insurance Group, one of the largest insurers in Canada and a
minority shareholder in Bahamas First Holdings.

Ian Fair, chairman of Bahamas First
Holdings – which owns Cayman First – said it takes time for a new corporate
culture to take effect, but the company had appointed a integration committee
to work with the Cayman staff and “make them feel part of the family.”

Bahamas First Holdings President
Patrick Ward said the integration wasn’t seen as a significant obstacle, mainly
because the cultures in the Bahamas and Cayman were so similar.

“There are recognised differences,”
he said, adding however that Cayman was Bahamas First’s first choice when they
looked to expand. “Culturally, language-wise, legally and in business
environment, they’re very similar.”

Board members named

Four representatives of Bahamas
First Holdings serve as board members of Cayman First. Cayman First President
Danny Scott is one of the local directions. Bryan Murphy and Danny O’Hara are
also local directors representing the Cayman Islands Government, which owns a
little more than 24 per cent of Cayman First as a result of a negotiated
settlement with Cayman General Insurance with regard to its Hurricane Ivan
claim. 

Mr. Fair said the board of
directors would hold quarterly meetings so the directors would be visiting
Cayman on a regular basis.

One thing that Cayman First would
have liked to have seen settled before completing the purchase of Sagicor
General was the legal action concerning the post-Hurricane Ivan reconstruction
project on the Windsor Village condominiums. 
The case started when Sagicor was still known as Cayman General
Insurance and continues today, with the resolution awaiting a decision by Justice
Alexander Henderson.  Mr. Ward said he
could not say much about the matter because of confidentiality agreements,

“The best outcome for everyone
concern is a speedy resolution,” he said, adding that no matter how the case
was resolved, Cayman First policyholders would not be adversely affected.

Mr. Gayle said the insurer had
engaged a Canadian public relations company as well as Cayman’s Atwater Ltd to
handle the re-branding of the company.

“The two of them are working
together to come up with a new corporate look and feel,” he said, adding that
advertisements would begin appearing shortly.

As for Bahamas First Holdings, the
corporate feel inside the company has changed to a more performance-driven
organisation, said Mr. Ward.

“We’re definitely moving away from
mom and pop, sleepy island type of company,” he said, giving credit to Mr. Fair
for leading the change in corporate culture.

Mr. Fair said the board of
directors of Bahamas First decided that if they were going to be successful
going forward, the company needed to make a “quantum leap” to change the
corporate governance culture.

After the acquisition in June,
Cayman First’s Mr. Scott said the company was poised “to become the leading
general insurer in the Cayman Islands”.

Both Mr. Fair and Mr. Ward, along
with Mr. Gayle agree with that sentiment, with Mr. Fair noting that Bahamas
First was already the number one insurer in the Bahamas.

“We were here once, too,” said Mr.
Scott, who has been with the company since Cayman General’s inception back in
1984. “And we will be again.”

TOPCaymanFirstSTORY

Cayman First management and directors who met Tuesday, 3 August, included, from left, Bahamas First Group Vice President and CFO Glen Ritchie; Cayman First Senior Vice President Michael Gayle; Bahamas First Group President and CEO Patrick Ward; Cayman First President Danny Scott; Bahamas First Chairman of the Board Ian Fair; and Cayman First Director Graham Garner.
Photo: Alan Markoff
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