Policyholders slow to collect refunds

ST. JOHN’S — After three years of waiting for a resolution, only 48 per cent of eligible British American Insurance Company policyholders turned out to collect their money.

The Redcliffe Street office opened at 8 a.m. yesterday to release the first disbursements. However, the doors swung open to just a few policyholders – rather than the 440 expected to line the street in front of the building.

A fact that local judicial manager for BAICO, Cleveland Seaforth, said is “surprisingly” low.

“We started out earlier with a small queue, people come and they move through freely, because there is no queue,” Seaforth said.

He revealed that five hours into yesterday’s proceedings, only 65 Flexible Premium Annuity policyholders, with balances under $30,000, had arrived to collect their cheques.

President of the BAICO Recovery Fund, Kevin Branker, said only 213 policyholders turned up because most were only informed on November 28.

Yesterday was the first of a three-day campaign, marking the initiation of phase one of the BAICO Policyholders’ Relief Programme, which seeks to incrementally reimburse former policyholders a portion of monies owed.

Despite the small turnout, Seaforth said feedback from customers on the process was generally favourable, saying they were “pleased” with the “efficient” process – which he noted takes no longer than 30 minutes.

One FPA policyholder, Kathy Abel, speaking to OBSERVER Media, agreed with Seaforth.

“I am not employed, so the cash is very welcomed. It was quick going and easy,” Abel remarked.

Over the course of the first day $1,147,000 was handed out to policyholders. It is estimated that $5.8 million will be handed out during this phase to 1,312 FPA policyholders. (Antigua Observer)

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