Written by: Paige McCartney, The Nassau Guardian June 9th, 2021
One week into the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season and with scientists predicting above
normal activity, businesses are being urged to safeguard their investments.
Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Summit Insurance Timothy Ingraham said it is incumbent upon business owners to ensure they can cover the cost of losses in the event of a catastrophe.
“Studies have shown that many businesses do not survive catastrophes, whether it’s a fire or hurricane and they fail at a fairly high rate. Those that do not have insurance however fail at a higher rate than the ones that do have insurance. So if you’re a business in Abaco and you have insurance, it’s much easier for you to get back on your feet than if you now have to go out and raise the money to get started all over again,” he said during a chamber hurricane preparedness webinar yesterday.
“Why do you need it? Do you have the money to replace your business or your home? Most people don’t have that sitting in a bank account and so the ideal thing is to make sure you have insurance which will help you with that. If you’re an employer, if you’re a business, do you have money to pay your employees? When businesses get destroyed – again if you had a business in Abaco or if you had a business destroyed by fire and you have some longstanding employees, the law says you have to pay them out. Do you have the money to pay them out? We’ve seen businesses that got an insurance settlement, but because they let their employees go a significant portion of that settlement had to go to pay the employees. That’s another reason for paying it.
“Do you have the money to pay your finance company for your home or your business? Can you pay the bank their money? They’re going to want their money back. They’re not going to let you just walk away from it. So it’s incumbent upon you to make sure that you can do that.”
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in 2019, the government revealed that 80 percent of homes and businesses destroyed or damaged during the passage of the deadly storm were uninsured or underinsured.
Up to last September, insurance companies had paid out $1.8 billion out of $2.1 billion in insurance claims from the storm.
Ingraham said despite the devastation seen during Dorian, local businesses have not taken heed in great numbers to insure their properties.
“Unfortunately, there has not been a significant uptick in the number of persons insuring. However, financial stress caused by the pandemic has definitely had a significant impact on this. Delayed rebuilding in affected areas has also impacted this,” he said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season, with a range of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 miles per hour or higher), of which six to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 miles per hour or higher), including three to five major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 miles per hour or higher) expected.