As the financial burden of the coronavirus pandemic on large swaths of people becomes increasingly acute, some insurers have begun offering payment relief, fee waivers, and other assistance to clients.
In a statement last week, ATTIC, the trade association for TT’s insurance companies, urged any policyholder experiencing financial challenges to get in touch with their respective insurers and agents.
ATTIC’s statement contributed to an emerging picture of how the industry as a whole has been responding to covid19.
Sagicor announced on Friday that it will make early payments to pensioners and defer payments for its mortgage clients for three months initially. The move is intended to ease the financial burden on thousands of its clients.
In a statement, Sagicor said the early payment to pensioners would help ensure they have the financial capability to meet their immediate needs.
“These are the elderly people – the people who need to get into supermarkets at special hours,” said Robert Trestrail, Sagicor’s executive vice president and general manager.
A Sagicor spokesman explained that pension payments are typically made on the first day of each month.
“We have paid them early so that they have access to their monthly income and we will pay them early again next month.”
Sagicor’s statement clarified that the deferral of mortgage payments would apply to both residential and commercial mortgages for new and existing clients.
The two measures – early pension and the moratorium on mortgage payments – will remain in place until June 30 in the first instance.
Disclosure of the measures follows earlier announcements by the insurance company, one of the largest in the region,
In those measures, Sagicor said it would pay all covid19-related claims under its health and life insurance policies. The company will also give an automatic three-month grace period on life insurance premiums for clients who can’t afford to pay, along with a guarantee that no life insurance policy will be terminated within the next 90 days. Sagicor clients with health policies will also have the option to claim three months’ worth of prescription drugs.
Sagicor announced a US$1 million commitment to support covid19 containment and treatment efforts in TT and other countries where it operates.
But while that money is intended to help governments with early detection and equipment, Sagicor Life’s president and chief executive Ravi Rambarran said the two measures announced Friday would provide direct relief to policyholders.
“We want our pensioners, policyholders, home-owners and business owners to know that we are with you and together we will overcome this threat to our beloved families, communities and countries.”
Late on Friday, Guardian Life also announced flexible terms and deferred payments on premiums to clients affected by the coronavirus.
In a statement, it said it would extend the grace period for outstanding payments from 90 to 180 days for individual life and pension policies. But company president Anand Pascal said if you’re a Guardian Life policyholder, it’s important that you still contact your agent.
“Each policy is different and it’s tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of a client,” Pascal said. “Some of our popular policies carry cash values and where there is sufficient cash value our policies automatically allow for premium holidays so somebody can pause their policy without paying their premiums and the policy won’t lapse. But that applies in certain circumstances.” Pascal confirmed that Guardian Life would also honour any death claims related to covid19.
He said the six-month grace period would also apply to Guardian Life’s pension clients.
Clients of Pan American Life who are suffering financially from income fallout caused by the coronavirus will also benefit from insurance payments relief.
Greer Quan, chief executive, said,"We have extended our grace period on our life and personal accident policies to 90 days.”
Quan added that Pan American Life policyholders could also access loans against the cash values of their policies if they are unable to pay their premiums.
Altogether, Pan American Life’s financial assistance measures will benefit some 160,000 clients across the Caribbean.
Maritime Life, which is significantly smaller in terms of asset size, said in a notice to clients on March 27 that it would work with clients across its life insurance, general insurance, lending and mortgage business lines to defer or finance payments on a case-by-case basis.
Maritime clients whose policies do not have cash value also have the option of financing premiums through Fidelity Finance, a sister company within the Maritime Financial Group.
Maritime’s chairman and CEO Andrew Ferguson also said monthly payments to pensioners would proceed as normal.