Prepare for the 2013 hurricane season

Derry Graham,
General Manager of BritCay
British Caymanian Insurance Co. Ltd.
T: 345-949-8699

Caymanians went about the business of reconstruction, scars were healed and our community picked itself up with the process of recovery.

For many businesses, it was a make-or-break event and the impact was enormous in our insurance community.

“We all saw and experienced the damage but not so much, the less visible traumas of personal and family possessions, mementos and memories being lost,” says Derry Graham, general manager of British Caymanian Insurance. “We all try to prepare ourselves for the worst when a hurricane strikes, but nothing had us expecting damage on the scale of Ivan.

“We were inundated with calls for assistance, our offices were impacted by water damage and we had to deal with $300 million insurance claims. At the same time our own staff had their personal disasters to deal with too.

“What did we learn from it? We naturally expect our insurance company to make good our losses in the fastest possible time. It’s surprising how much people still overlook when they finally expect their claims to be paid.”

With Ivan claims, some homeowners did not keep their insurance up to date with the value of their property.

A common error was to confuse the market value of a building with its rebuild value. These can be quite different.

Usually a rebuilding cost is applied to the total square footage of your home (which can include any garages, garden sheds or other outbuildings, docks and stand-alone walls) to produce a value, known as the sum insured.

Your insurance will cover the cost of rebuilding your home, not the market or sale value. Ask your insurance provider to help with a valuation for the sum to be insured.

The typical home insurance policy will also provide for you in the event of the property being uninhabitable due to damage.

“All the same, it is quite clear that many people do not take the time to fully understand exactly how their policy will protect and what limits may apply,” says Derry.

“It might be wise to become as familiar with home insurance benefits as we might be with a health insurance plan. The last thing you want to do, as a homeowner, is make assumptions that prove to be incorrect when you most need your insurance to work for you.

“The more we understand our insurance cover, the more we can work to either reduce premiums or make sure we have the best protection for our money too. Not all home insurance policies are the same.”
A large storm could result in many simultaneous claims and it pays to be prepared for making a claim.

Derry is emphatic about this, especially with deductibles and personal possessions.

“Misunderstandings can create delays,” he says.

“There is also a process to making a large claim. It would be unwise to authorise repair work before you have made it clear to your insurer and have permission to proceed. However, that is a rare mistake. More common issues arise with personal possessions.”

Many homeowners seriously underestimate the total value of their possessions and valuables.

Special items may need independent consideration too, like antiques, jewellery or high-end electronic goods. Do not assume that your claim will pay you the same sum as the purchase price. New-for-old cover is quite specific. Items are replaced at their current market value, up to the insured amount, without any deduction for wear and tear and depreciation.

“Make sure you understand if or where new-for-old applies to your cover–receipts can be very useful,” adds Derry.

For most of us, our homes are our most valuable asset. Astonishingly, some homeowners still play Russian roulette with their properties by not insuring them.

“You still find very late attempts to take out home insurance just as a storm is approaching,” says Derry. “It’s worth knowing that some insurance companies may take the view that if a storm is certain to hit, they may decline cover”.