Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon. Ronnie Skelton decried what he termed is a ‘troubling’ increase of insurance premium across the Territory since the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Hon. Skelton, who made the comment while he was debating the RDA Plan in the House of Assembly on 23 October, said that the increase in insurance fees can have a domino effect that would see the rising of prices of other things such as residential and commercial space rental.
In bringing the matter to the attention of legislators, Hon. Skelton said: “Madame Speaker there’s a troubling and vexing issue that is confronting this country that needs a solution. That is the premium escalation in insurance. I use myself as not a typical example, but an example that is troubling. I used to pay about $5000 a year for insurance now I got my premium some days ago and it is $15000, a $10000 increase,” the Minister divulged.
Hon. Skelton said that the situation is worrisome as he said that the situation has the propensity to create other cost escalation and create burden for persons in the community who are already struggling to deal with post Irma expenses: “Madame Speaker it seems to me as the premiums have increased three times whatever people were paying and that’s going to cause a social problem in this country. Madame Speaker because you tell me the ordinary person whose income is already stretched to its limit where are they going to get money to pay insurance premiums three times?” he asked.
In explaining how this situation will affect residents the Minister with responsibility for Social Development said: “They are making a lot of people…those who have mortgages at banks and lending institutions not bankable anymore and that is a concern for this government and any government that is coming. Something must happen. What is the insurance companies telling us? Are they telling us that they are trying to recoup all their loss and payouts for the hurricanes in three years/two years?”
“This is a concern and it’s not just the residential properties that are escalated three times the amount, the commercial properties have increased two and half times the amount. That means rent accommodation both on the commercial side and apartment lot is going to increase also, so everything is going to be escalating,” Hon. Skelton pointed out.
“This is serious Madame Speaker,” Hon. Skelton said as he lamented that insurance premiums went up 300 percent. One of the effects of this increase, Hon. Skelton said, would be that persons might decide to forego insuring their homes and this might not be a wise decision.
“People who already paid off for their homes are not going to insure because they can’t afford to and if their house catch on fire, an earthquake comes people are going to be in trouble again.”
Furthermore, Hon. Skelton asked if any government agency had a discussion with insurance companies to find out what their intentions are as the Minister said that they are making it difficult for people to build homes. “Can the government afford to increase their salaries to compensate or can [companies]increase salaries so that people can afford to pay these huge insurance premiums. I don’t know Madame Speaker and I doubt it.”