Insurance market too restricted, warns executive
Barbados could be losing out on millions of dollars in foreign exchange each year due to currency restrictions on registered insurance companies.
This warning from President and Chief Executive Officer of Pan American Life Insurance Company José Suquet, who said yesterday there was “a real need” in Barbados for “US dollar products for the life insurance and major medical business” given the number of high net worth individuals living on the island.
However, he said, it was very difficult, given the current foreign currency restrictions, for the island to benefit from this segment of the market.
“What we would like to do, which is very important, is introduce US dollar products for the life insurance and major medical business . . . . These products are being sold right now, but they are not being regulated,” he said, pointing out that in a non-regulated environment, “the country gets no premium taxes, there are no death benefits or provider network payments because it is all being done offshore and especially with the number of expats that have a second home or live here permanently this is a real need for that.
“I feel overall it would benefit the Barbados economy to allow that type of product in US dollars to be sold,” he contended.
Suquet, who was due to meet with the Central Bank officials this week, said that would be “a key message” to them.
“It is nothing new here in Barbados [but] it is very tough for an affluent high net worth person if they have an issue with a claim or the insurance company to go to the Isle of Man where these companies are registered, or the Cayman Islands, and knock on a door if they are here.
“If you have a product that is approved by the Central Bank and that is registered in the country legally you just have more value for the customer and you have recourse, but right now the customer don’t,” he said.
The insurance executive said the products his company wished to introduce in Barbados were already being offered in Trinidad and “all through Latin America”. (MM)