GKI urges J’cans to insure property amid climate change
Tammara Glaves-Hucey, Asst. General Manager – Personal Lines, Claims & Legal at GK Insurance
As the Bahamas continues to reel from the impact of Hurricane Dorian, the focus of the international has once again shifted to how countries that are vulnerable to climate change can guard against disaster.
Worldwide, billions of dollars in damages have been recorded in the last year alone as evidenced in developing countries such as Mozambique and Tonga, and in even larger territories such as the United Kingdom – all of which have suffered from climate change-related phenomena such as tropical cyclones and extreme freeze.
In addition, a recent report from the world’s largest reinsurance firm Munich Re has warned that climate change could eventually make insurance too expensive for people globally.
“The [insurance] sector is concerned that continuing global increases in temperature could make it increasingly difficult to offer the affordable financial protection that people deserve, and that modern society requires to function properly,” said Nicolas Jeanmart, head of personal insurance, general insurance and macroeconomics at Insurance Europe.
Jamaica has likewise seen recent changes due to climate change, including experiencing the hottest day ever recorded on the island this summer and local sea waters producing much more dead seaweed at beaches islandwide.
Climate change will also likely impact the island’s hurricane season in the coming years according to Glenroy Brown, Climate Service Specialist in the Meteorological Service of Jamaica.
He said, “We are expecting more warm days. The reason for that is [abnormally] warm temperatures actually occurred in June, and June is not normally one of the warmest months in Jamaica. Generally, that would occur between July and August.”
Nicolas Jeanmart of Insurance Europe
Noting the local effects of climate change and this year’s hurricane season, GK Insurance’s (GKI) Tammara Glaves-Hucey, Asst. General Manager – Personal Lines, Claims & Legal, advises that Jamaicans should be proactive and seek adequate protection by insuring one’s personal assets such as home and contents against these major perils now.
“This kind of insurance is important as it helps to protect valuable assets and gives the insured peace of mind when faced with a loss.”
In this regard, the insurance arm of the GraceKennedy Group offers Home Owners Comprehensive Coverage, which provides indemnity for the insured’s loss, damage, liability or injury during the period of insurance.
The company also offers solutions for persons who are not homeowners to protect the residence’s contents. Glaves-Hucey explained, “Usually, the landlord’s insurance policy does not cover tenants’ contents and assets. So, we urge tenants to ensure that they protect their investments.”
In developing countries, fast payouts should also be a priority as a rapid response means that infrastructure can be redeveloped, and the general public and businesses can return to operations faster thereby reducing long-term losses. Equipping with insurance can give small and developing countries the ability to cope with the storms expected for the duration of the season.
Though this type of insurance offering is generally underutilised in Jamaica, Glaves-Hucey stated that she has noted an increase in the sale of insurance protection against hurricanes and other natural disasters at her company.
She said, “There is usually an increase in persons purchasing insurance if there is an indication of an active hurricane season or in instances where our sister islands are experiencing increased activity from hurricanes or storms.”
She urges, however, that proactivity is the better option. “The data at hand suggests that most persons remove the insurance from their home once they have completed their mortgage payments. However, the property can still be the subject of a loss in the event of a hurricane or storm and, as such, we strongly recommend that persons take the insurance step to protect their assets.”