Disasters no joke

Insurance executive tell govt to take disaster preparedness more seriously

An insurance executive has complained that Barbadians are still skimping on property insurance against disaster and, with four months to the 2015 hurricane season, he has lamented the absence of an enforceable building code.

General Manager of Co-operators General Insurance Anton Lovell said most Barbadian householders whose homes are destroyed or damaged by disaster, including fire, have inadequate or no financial protection.

General Manager of Co-operators General Insurance Anton Lovell
General Manager of Co-operators General Insurance Anton Lovell

“There were about 100 house fires last year and I could hazard a guess that 75 per cent of these were not insured, and that continues to be a worrying trend for the insurance industry,” he told Barbados TODAY.

“Another factor is that those persons who are insuring their properties don’t have their properties adequately insured, meaning that they are not insured for the true replacement value.”

He said an additional worry was that the island had no legislation supporting its building code.

“That’s another concern. Why is it taking so long to be become law?” Lovell asked.

“Tomas was just a storm, it wasn’t severe, but then we had a lot of damage; too much damage. So you could imagine if a Category One or Two hurricane strikes.”

Though the 1993 Barbados Building Code was updated in 2013, the document continues to be unenforceable, leaving builders to set their own standards.

“Government [has] got to take disaster planning more seriously because it could really set back a country some years,” Lovell said.

“Disaster preparedness should not be taken lightly . . . It is regrettable that Barbadians are very reactive people.”

The insurance executive added: “Disaster preparedness cannot be treated like a political football, like many things in this country. It is a very important area and we are talking about protecting the vulnerable, saving lives, a country’s survival, our own survival.”

“If a formidable disaster strikes, can you imagine what this will do the Government finances . . . the time it will take this country and citizens to recover.”

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