~ Business interruption could take largest hit ~
PHILIPSBURG--Gulf Insurances estimates that the total incurred losses from Hurricane Gonzalo will straddle between US $10 million and US $15 million.
St. Maarten Branch Manager Nadira Hellendoorn told The Daily Herald on Thursday that it will be difficult at this stage to put a figure as far as the total overall insured losses incurred. "However, on the basis of the Gulf experience for reported losses thus far, estimating our market share and assuming that all other insurance portfolios suffer around a similar probable maximum loss, then the total incurred insured loss could be in the vicinity of US $10 to US $15 million," Hellendoorn said.
When asked what areas the company felt most claims will go to and why she said she was not sure, she noted that from the company's review of losses thus far, commercial and homeowner's properties, including business interruption, could take the largest hit. "My understanding is that there are also some losses also with respect to marine hull claims."
She said there were policy conditions and deadlines with respect to notifying and reporting claims that, in most instances, are 14 days after the date of loss. The time in writing can be extended depending on company policy and special circumstances, which Gulf has done. She said there had been "very few" claims still coming in, but noted that Gulf anticipates that more than 95 per cent of claims have been reported thus far.
"So far, based on overall estimates received and anticipated, we expect total claims at approximately US $1.5 million. We have processed [notified, appointed adjuster's, etc. – Ed.] for approximately 90 claims thus far," she said. "Payout to clients started within the first couple days once estimates were received and adjustments concluded. Gulf Clients are very satisfied. With respect to those claims outstanding, the major keep-back is getting contractors to give clients estimates, especially for the more complex cases where buildings suffer major roof and or structural damages," she explained.
When asked whether premiums were expected to go up, she said based on the overall anticipated loss suffered from Gonzalo in St. Maarten, Gulf does not anticipate any major increase in rates, if any at all. "However, the hurricane season is not over and God forbid we have another loss in the region then reinsurers are certain to react and increase reinsurers' rates, especially from the period January 1, 2015. Once reinsurance rates go up, then insurers may have no choice, but to increase accordingly," she said.
She said residents should do like they did after Hurricanes Luis and Marilyn in the 1990s by retrofit and reconstruct roofs, etc. with hurricane straps and rebuild in general with hurricanes in mind such as using hurricane shutters, etc. "Also, they should always have quick contact with contractors to get estimates as soon as possible so that claims can be settled quickly before shortages and increased cost of building materials, etc.
"There is the annual threat of hurricanes in the region; residents and businessmen should always ensure that they are properly and adequately insured and prepared in the event of an even stronger hurricane, God forbid," she said.