GK Insurance moves to fill coverage gap in construction industry
Grace Burnett (left), Managing Director of GK Insurance, greets guests from Jamaica Social Investment Fund Donna Thompson (centre), Senior Financial Analyst, and Keslyn GilbertStoney, Manager, Legal & Governance, at the first annual staging of the GKI Contractors Forum.
At every turn, one can see that the local construction industry is booming with activity as numerous road works take place and new housing and commercial developments spring up across the island’s capital city in the form of shopping centres, residential homes and, even more popularly, apartment complexes.
And while construction continues at feverish pace, a worrisome trend being observed among local contractors has been their inability to properly secure sufficient insurance coverage, as mandated by law, to protect their property and workers for the duration of a project.
Grace Burnett, Managing Director of GK Insurance (GKI), said, “I think a lot of contractors buy the insurance to satisfy requirements simply because somebody is asking for it.”
Speaking at the recently held first annual staging of the GKI Contractors Forum last Wednesday at the Jamaica Pegasus, she continued, “What I’m hoping is that they’ll understand that it offers real protection so they’ll think about it and negotiate with us to help them get the appropriate cover that they’ll need for a particular job.”
Grace Burnett, Managing Director of GK Insurance
The forum discussing coverage details was conceptualised and staged in order to address the seemingly general misinformation within the industry, especially for the benefit of GKI’s current clients which currently comprise 13 per cent of their total business.
In agreement, Project Manager in Construction at the National Housing Trust (NHT) Dwayne Pryce also expressed that for the numerous developments being undertaken through the government organisation charged with increasing and enhancing the stock of available housing in Jamaica, many of its contractors do not totally comprehend their policies.
“The contractors [are responsible for choosing] the insurance provider in accordance with the NHT’s criteria. This includes coverage per incident and ensuring that the duration [of the coverage] covers our contract period. Oftentimes, these contractors have no idea of the details about their contracts or their insurance policies,” he said.
This underinsurance proves problematic in the case of eventualities as there are already gaps such as the lack of personal accident coverage within standard insurance policies locally that leave contractors exposed. To this end, the company’s newest microinsurance product is now being aimed at those within the growing construction sector so that workers on site are protected and can be afforded some coverage in the event of an accident.
This is in addition to their full suite of products that include tender bonds, performance bond, mobilisation/advance payment bonds, retention bonds, contractors’ all risks, public liability, employers’ liability, professional indemnity, and personal accident, which all protect the employer and contractor, workmen and third parties against loss or damage numerous perils or causes.
Neville Henry, General Manager of Nationwide Insurance Agents & Consultants
GK Amed is a personal accident insurance policy that provides reimbursement of up to J$300,000 per policy annually to aid in medical expenses that the policyholder incurs as a result of an accidental bodily injury or death, with the policyholder being covered for as little as J$300 fortnightly or J$500 monthly. GKI Microinsurance Officer Candice Williams said, “In this industry, they’ll have a lot of contractual workers and people that go on and off their site, so the product is actually ideal for contractors since they currently have to go out of pocket for these smaller claims as they are not covered under larger policies.”
“Also, when you have an accident there usually needs to be proof of liability or a lot of documentation along with an investigation and that takes a lot of time. With GK Amed, we don’t need all of that. They just need to prove they sought medical treatment and it should be in alignment with what they said the accident was.”
With the increased number of construction activities, especially new roadworks taking place within recent years, even more, liability claims are abound. Neville Henry, General Manager of Nationwide Insurance Agents & Consultants which currently serves the insurance arm of the GraceKennedy Group along with five other insurance providers in the industry as an intermediary broker, said, “There have been a few liability claims; more than usual of late.”
He continued, “I’m not going to say that it’s attributable to just Jamaican contractors, because we have a number of foreign contractors in the country now. The Jamaican contractors, by and large, have been working with very high standards and the experience on the employees’ liability side has been reasonably good over the years.”