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Bahamas Insurance Association Elects New Chairman and Executive Officer

The Bahamas Insurance Association (BIA) is pleased to announce the election of its executive members for the 2015/16 fiscal year. At the Annual General Meeting of the BIA held on May 12, 2015, the following persons were elected to serve for the 2015/16 year:

Emmanuel Komolafe – Chairman
Anton Sealy – Deputy Chairman (Property & Casualty)
Lyrone Burrows – Deputy Chairman (Life & Health)
Warren Rolle – Secretary
Cardinal McCardy – Treasurer

This election comes at a time when the insurance industry is confronted with myriad challenges and headwinds which are expected to impact the business models of BIA members. Acknowledging the enormous contribution of erstwhile Chairman, Mr. Howard Knowles over the last three years, Mr. Komolafe noted that these are serious times for the insurance industry in The Bahamas. “The future of our industry hangs in the balance in the aftermath of the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) the impact of which is yet to be seen and the proposed implementation of National Health Insurance” said Mr. Komolafe. The approaches taken and decisions made by the government in the coming months in relation to these issues will have major consequences for the insurance industry in The Bahamas. He further lamented the level of attention that has been given to the insurance industry by consecutive governments. “In spite of the fact that we have arguably been the most stable and consistent sector within the financial services industry for several years, the insurance sector has received minimal attention and respect from successive administrations” he noted.

Besides the recent futile attempts to work with the government regarding NHI, the BIA had sought to engage the government and relevant policy makers to address a number of systemic and legislative issues some of which date back to 2010 without any success.

 

These include requests for specific policy decisions and instruments to enable long term insurance companies better match their assets with their long term liabilities as well as exchange control concessions to enable insurers to diversify their investment portfolios and reduce their concentration risk. There is also a long list of proposed amendments to the Insurance Act, 2005 (as amended) and accompanying regulations that remain outstanding. Mr. Komolafe noted that the BIA had met on numerous occasions with cabinet ministers, officials at the Ministry of Finance and relevant authorities albeit very little has been achieved following those meetings. “Our members do not generally feel like a part of the financial services industry based on how much emphasis is placed on this vital sector by the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Financial Services” he observed.

“We will seek to build on the work of the previous executive team and ensure that the concerns of the insurance industry are communicated to the relevant authorities and continue to push for proper dialogue. One of our main goals is to embark on a public and consumer education initiative to address some misconceptions about insurance and insurers” said Mr. Komolafe who also serves as the Chairman of the statutory Insurance Advisory Committeeand had previously served as Deputy Chairman (Life & Health) of the BIA for 5 years prior to his election as Chairman.

About the Bahamas Insurance Association
The BIA represents 30 insurance companies, brokerages and agencies, following the merger of the membership of two pre-existing entities that date back to the 1970s—The Bahamas General Insurance Association and the Bahamas Association of Life & Health Insurers.

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Report on Claims Bank Seminar
The Bahamas Insurance Association (BIA) held a Claims Bank Seminar on Thursday, January 29th at its office. The goal of the seminar was to provide participants with an opportunity to understand more fully the function of the Claims Bank, specifically in the use of fraud detection. The twenty-six (26) participants represented the following thirteen (13) member companies: Security and General Insurance Co. Ltd.; Bahamas Motor Assessing; Star General Insurance Agents & Brokers Ltd.; RoyalStar Assurance Ltd.; Sunshine Insurance Agents & Brokers Ltd.; J.S. Johnson & Company Ltd.; Insurance Management (Bahamas) Ltd.; Summit Insurance Co. Ltd.; Orry J. Sands & Co. Ltd.; Nagico Insurance (Bahamas) Limited; Family Guardian Insurance Agents & Brokers;   BAF Financial & Insurance (Bah.)Limited; Bahamas First General Insurance Co. Ltd.

The presenter, Mr. Donovan Morgan, from Epic Technologies (Jamaica) provided an overview of the Claims Bank: technologies, data requirement, benefits to the insurance company, levels of access, user activities, several options and accessing and interpreting results. He emphasized the need for greater participation and stated that in order for the Claims Bank to be most effective shared information was critical.

The feedback from participants was extremely positive. The following sample comments attest to this:
•    The seminar was very informative.
•    For persons who have never used the Claims Bank, the training on the use of the system and how to retrieve information was very useful.
•    I’m happy to have a deeper understanding of the use and benefits of the Claims Bank. I’m also happy that other companies will have a better appreciation in the hope that this will encourage broader use and increase the usefulness of the Claims Bank.

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Fellowship Awardees (from l to r) Rhonda Chipman Johnson; Michele Fields,Superintendent; Ashley Reckley; Cindy Carroll-Tinker; Ryshanda Burrows; Todney Marsh; Janelle Fox; Anastacia Davis; Anton Sealey, Deputy Chair; Howard Knowles, Chairman; Cardinal McCardy, Treasurer; Kim Bethel.

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ACII AWARDEES/RECIPIENTS (from l to r) Rhonda Chipman Johnson; Michele Fields, Superintendent; Yolanda Moss; Anton Sealey, Deputy Chair; Shanria Swann-Cooper; Howard Knowles, Chairman; Cardinal McCardy, Treasurer.

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ALMI AWARDEES Rhonda Chipman-Johnson; Gordon Lightfoot; D. Monique Burrows; Michele Fields, Superintendent; Howard Knowles, Chairman; Janae Knowles; Family Guardian Representative; Melva Knowles; Seneka Clarke; Cardinal McCardy, Treasurer; Mykka Moss; Shenika Rolle; Tiffany Taylor; (seated, front, l to r) Lesley Taylor; Lechez Hepburn, Michelle Butler and Bianca Cooper.

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Essay Competition (January–April)
Church Service & Lunch (April 26th)
Open House at the Mall at Marathon (May)

Radio & Television Appearances (May–September)
Banquet (October 24, 2015)
NB: More precise dates will be given for the Open House and Radio/TV appearances later.

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What attracted you to a career in insurance?
My career in insurance started as a temporary summer job after graduating high school and it evolved from there. I fell into it really – at the start I didn’t really think about it as a career, but over the years I fell in love with it.

What made you want to work at Lloyd’s?
Whilst I was studying for my CII exams there was a lot of material related to Lloyd’s and the London market, which I found very interesting. I mentioned it to my boss at the time who suggested I should try for an internship with a company at Lloyd’s, called Endeavour Insurance Services. They offered me an internship position and sponsored me through the whole process, which made a big difference.

Ultimately they offered me a permanent position – an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. I moved to London in July last year after working in the Bahamian insurance industry for five years.

Tell us a bit about your current role.
My current role with Endeavour is with the Property team. We broke open market facultative and line-slip referral risk from our North American clients. As a surplus lines market broker we use our open market capabilities to assist our coverholder clients and help them in the placement of ‘difficult to place business’. We also work with new clients to develop their portfolios and work towards binding authority status.

The majority of the risks that we place into Lloyd’s are those where clients are looking for more bespoke products and the risks are more ‘difficult to place’ domestically. There’s no other market like Lloyd’s, and London is the insurance capital that attracts business from all over the world from reinsurance to insurance products.

What were your first impressions of Lloyd’s?
I was really excited about moving to London. When I first walked into Lloyd’s I thought this is it, this is where I need to be. There was such a buzz about the place.

Since I’ve been at Lloyd’s I’ve met so many new people and all of the underwriters have been so nice, accommodating and very helpful. It’s a really friendly place to work and I love being here.

What could the industry do to make it more attractive to diverse talent?
If businesses want to attract international talent they should create internships. I got into Lloyd’s through an internship and I think the industry should make more opportunities like that to attract young people. It would be great if Lloyd’s could facilitate matching interns with companies that are willing to take them on when they come from other countries.

It is quite a male-dominated industry but I’ve never felt any prejudice against me as a woman. The team at Endeavour has fully accepted me and I know they judge me on merit and on what I can bring to the company.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Ten years is a long way away so there are lots of possibilities!

But there are two options I hope for; the first is developing and growing a portfolio of US and Bahamian and Caribbean business here in London. The second is to return to the Bahamas, US or Caribbean and use the experience that I’ve gained in London there in the local industry. Either way, I definitely see my future as being in insurance.

How are you enjoying life in London?
I absolutely love it! Every time I meet someone new and they find out I’m from the Bahamas they say, what are you doing here? Why would you want to live in London? But London life is fantastic. The only thing is, the weather takes a bit of getting used to. Coming from 90 degree weather to London is a bit of a change, to say the least!

One of my favourite things to do at the weekends is to go down and wander around Spitalfields or Borough Market. I’ve fallen in love with the London markets and all the great food.

If you didn’t work in insurance what would you do?
Insurance is what I’ve done my whole adult life so it’s hard to say. I think I would have ended up in banking or some other part of financial services if I hadn’t found insurance.

Reprinted, with permission, from http://www.lloyds.com/news-and-insight/news-and-features/interviews/interviews-2014/first-impressions-of-the-underwriting-room

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The government implemented Value Added Tax (VAT) at a rate of 7.5% effective January 1, 2015 with minimal exemptions. It should be noted that the initial proposed rate of 15% and several exemptions were changed following consultations between the government and New Zealand experts in 2014. One of the outcomes of the aforesaid consultation was a change in the treatment of insurance products under the VAT regime. While the Bahamas Insurance Association (BIA), through its VAT Subcommittee, had reached a consensus initially on the treatment of all insurance products as exempt for VAT purposes, this position as contained in the draft VAT Guidance was subsequently changed as follows:

  • All insurance services supplied in or from The Bahamas from January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2015 to a resident or a non-resident are exempt supplies.
  • Insurance services, other than life insurance, annuities and savings products, supplied in or from the Bahamas from July 1, 2015 to a resident are taxable supplies.
  • Insurance services comprising life insurance, annuities and savings products will remain exempt supplies after June 30, 2015.
  • Insurance services supplied to a non-resident from January 1, 2015 are zero-rated supplies, unless the insurance is in respect of property located or registered in The Bahamas.

It is imperative to note that the position as summarized above has not been finalized and the VAT Guidance remains a work in progress.

The unique transition period for the insurance industry is not unconnected to the referenced change in treatment of insurance products and the timing of the same. However, this transitional period poses some challenges to industry participants particularly in relation to the claiming of input tax deductions or credits. In recognition of the additional costs to be borne by insurers in the transition period, the government had suggested that certain input tax deductions may be claimed subject to a cap based on the premium tax paid for the period.

The government engaged the services of Mr. Graeme Keay – a tax consultant to liaise with the insurance industry with a view to addressing implementation issues, as well as draft a unique VAT Guidance for the insurance industry. Mr. Keay met with members of the BIA and other industry stakeholders during January 2015. It is expected that the dialogue between the government, the Consultant and the BIA will continue until implementation on July 1, 2015 and beyond. The initial consultations with Mr. Keay revealed that further clarity, discussions and/or work is required on inter alia the following:

  • Revisiting of input tax deductions cap based on total premium tax paid
  • Unique apportionment formula for insurance industry based primarily on premiums
  • Clarification of treatment of commissions based on insurance product
  • Tax point for policies of insurance
  • Revision of draft VAT Guidance to address treatment of each category of insurance
  • Treatment of insurance contracts in effect prior to July 1, 2015
  • VAT implications for claims settlements
  • Expansion of draft VAT Guidance to include more examples and illustrations
  • Broadening of the VAT Guidance and simplification of wording for non-insurance audience.

The BIA has been advised by the Ministry of Finance that once the Consultant’s report has been received, there will be further communication on policy matters arising out of the aforementioned report. In the final analysis, it is fair to state that the actual impact of VAT on The Bahamas’ insurance industry is yet to be determined and will unravel in the coming months and years.

The views expressed above are those of the author and not the opinions of Colina Holdings Bahamas Limited (CHBL), Colina Insurance Limited, any of CHBL’s subsidiaries and affiliates and/or the Bahamas Insurance Association. The content of this article is not to be construed as containing any information that can be interpreted as being legal, tax or financial advice.

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How excited I was back in the summer of 2007 when I was offered the position of Group HR & Training Manager at Bahamas First Holdings in Corporate Services. This was an opportunity to put my 35-year HR and Training skills into full gear and set up the HR & Training Department. I told them at the time that I was entering their lives for a season and would do all I could to professionalize the HR function by performing all of the duties of a Group HR & Training Manager (recruitment, testing, selection, orientation, salary and compensation, creating/drafting HR policy and procedures, employee manual, employee relations, performance management, succession planning and training and development) and encouraging them to read, learn, write better, save and overcome fear of public speaking though Toastmasters.

Since that time, we have experienced many firsts in the HR Department and the Company:
•    A fully functioning HR & Training Department with three employees and a full-time Group Training Coordinator, P & C;
•    A comprehensive Employee Handbook and an HR Policy, Procedures & Forms Manual;
•    A Future Leaders Development Programme (FLDP) which affords employees with a BA Degree or ACII to be exposed to classroom training and development on business, insurance and professional development topics  and rotations in key business areas (Claims, Underwriting, NUA  and Accounts) before they are fully deployed within the business.

•    A 3 L’s Life Long Learning Group that is also undergoing training and development sessions and is poised to move through the company.
•    A Performance Management process that seeks to raise a person’s performance to a higher standard.
•    Tighter and better crafted job descriptions;
•    A reduction in our turnover rate which means we are hiring better and retaining staff;
•    Acquired and merged companies as we seek to develop our portfolios and integrate employees through our diversity and training programmes;
•    An Insurance Company in Cayman and rebranded (Cayman First) – Yes, we are global.

Now that I have opted for early retirement, I can look back and feel proud of the accomplishments that Bahamas First has made.  My season here is ending (February 27, 2015) and I leave knowing that the Company will grow stronger every day and that I have sowed good seeds that will carry us forward.  We are developing leaders by transforming vision into reality, making history and breaking new ground. Thanks to Mr. Patrick Ward, Group President & CEO, the managers and staff at Bahamas First, especially the staff in HR, and the Company’s subsidiaries for enriching my life. I hope my actions have inspired you to do more and become more.

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It isn’t often that a relatively young enterprise can boast of stability and integrity.  With the first anniversary fast approaching for New Providence Life, this Bahamian Insurance company has accomplished much in a short time.
With the backing of Lloyd’s of London’s strength and security coupled with the professional administrative services of Morgan White Administrators International, New Providence Life began a fast track to success from its inception.  Although the name is fairly new, the products have proved strong and have served the Bahamian market for over ten years.
Why was NPL created? Because we understand the needs of our neighbors and friends.

New Providence Life provides cutting-edge products for every individual need.  When it comes to assembling life, health, dental & vision, disability and cancer products for the Bahamian community, the NPL team breaks the mold.
New Providence Life continuously introduces to the market such unique and innovative products as term life with return of premium and Lump Sum Disability for professionals and small business, and Critical Illness income protection plans, which also include an optional return of premium feature.
NPL offers affordable healthcare for seniors available for purchase up to age 85 which is completely unique to the market.
NPL provides access to superior healthcare professionals in South Florida in addition to your trusted healthcare providers in The Bahamas.
New Providence Life is delighted to introduce you to one of the newest additions to our team.  Annice Tucker, RN, brings not only a medical background to the table, but also a strong knowledge of the insurance industry, especially in claims.  Annice looks forward to working with fellow Bahamians and providing the first-rate products and customer service.
As we look to what lies ahead, David White, RHU and chairman of NPL is excited about the future for our policyholders, agents and brokers.