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Property insurance too expensive

Sunday 24th August, 2008

As hundreds of people throughout the country spent another weekend sweeping and mopping flood water from their houses, insurance consultant Bernard Aquing is advising people living in flood-prone areas to purchase property insurance.

Speaking in a telephone interview, Aquing said the reason flooding affected as many people financially as it did in T&T was because most of them did not buy insurance.

“Many of the people you find living in flood-prone areas are squatters,” said Aquing.

He said the Government, through the Central Bank, had been trying to make citizens become more aware of the financial decisions they made.

Aquing said flooding was inevitable. He also contended that most people who lived in these low-lying areas built their homes on stilts.

“Insurance is generally available for people who live in flood-prone areas, but if the risk involved is too high, insurance companies will not want to cover their property,” Aquing said.

A representative at Algico (Amercian Life and General

Insurance Co, Ltd) said flood insurance was included in property insurance.

“Most people who have mortgages on their property would take the insurance. In the case of an area where there is a lot of flood, we would survey the property and look at the risk involved and give them some corrective measures to take,” said the representative.

The representative also said Algico did not have a problem covering the home insurance, but if the problem of flooding persisted, the company would not continue to cover the property.

Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago conducted a survey during the period July to August last year, to find out how many people actually had insurance.

Results of the survey revealed that many people in T&T or their properties were not covered by insurance.


One of the flood-prone areas in T&T, recently, has been Barrackpore, where residents say, whenever it rains, the homes of hundreds are flooded.

Thousands of dollars in furniture, appliances and books are either spoilt or washed away because of severe flooding.

Living in an area that is flood-prone, one would expect that people’s homes are insured, so that they would be compensated whenever it floods.

Last Wednesday, the Sunday Guardian visited Barrackpore, a low-lying area in south Trinidad.

Residents spoke of the effects floods had on their livelihood.

Sanan Rambadhan, 83, has been living in Barrackpore for more than 25 years. She said since she had been living there, it was always known to flood.

“If it rains for one hour, water reaches as much as three feet in the house.”

The 83-year-old woman also said the flooding was not as bad as before, but since Barrackpore Secondary Comprehensive was built, the flooding had worsened.

Rambadhan and her family were forced to make adjustments to their home because of the flooding.

Rambadhan admitted that the house was not insured.

“Well, I know that there is insurance for your home, but it makes no sense, because then the insurance people will have to come to inspect our homes. Then they have to make an assessment of the damages, and with that you do not get the kind of compensation we want.”

Another resident, Jamal Ramdass, who lives in the heart of Barrackpore, has to endure an even worse situation.

When it rains for merely half-an-hour, the downstairs of his house floods, with water reaching as high as four feet.

Ramdass has a three-year-old daughter and he has to take the necessary precautions during the rainy season.

“My yard is like a swimming pool when it rains,” said Ramdass.

He has been living in Barrackpore for the past 30 years, and he, too, did not have property insurance.

“And with respect to flood insurance or insurance for the house, I do not know much about that,” he said.

The Barrackpore resident said he could not afford to pay for property insurance anyway.

Sean Fredericks, another resident, said he knew about the property insurance and had contemplated taking it.

“I do not know much about property insurance, and people around here are very hesitant to take those things because they have to spend too much money,” he said.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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