Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Policyholders in limbo


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Former CLICO policyholders and investors feel they are reliving their nightmare ten years after the company collapsed.

Barbados Investors and Policyholders Alliance (BIPA) president June Fowler said the organisation would shortly be returning to court “with a heavy heart” as they sought to get financial relief.

Fowler said she found it “very disturbing” that having been “so vocal and supportive” while in opposition, it appears the Mia Mottley Administration was now “so strangely silent on the matter of the CLICO/Resolution Life policyholders”.

Policyholders and investors remain in limbo, with Government’s debt restructuring resulting in a suspension of payments.

Fowler said pensioners, those with matured policies and those entitled to death benefits, had started to receive instalments to make up their arrears, and those with annuities started to receive their monthly pensions.

Additional individuals holding Executive Flexible Pension Annuities, many in their 70s, 80s and even 90s, were to receive repayments of their principal investment effective July 2018, as promised, albeit spread over ten years, she noted.

“The almost immediate suspension of external and internal debt had a calamitous effect on the value and intention of the instruments which were to underwrite Resolution Life and its policyholders,” Fowler said.

“Pension arrears stopped, and the first of the payments to be spread over ten years for EFPA policyholders was indefinitely postponed, ostensibly only until the restructuring of internal debt had been completed.”

She added: “BIPA is very much aware and supportive of this Government’s continuing efforts to reduce debt and bring about a level of growth to the economy.

“However, it is very disturbing to me that this administration which was so vocal and supportive of us in Opposition, and the Prime Minister herself, who has made numerous statements about making special arrangements to protect the most vulnerable, especially pensioners, and has indeed kept her word with the general population, seems to remain so strangely silent on the matter of the CLICO/Resolution Life policyholders.”

Fowler said with BIPA now returning to court for a resolution to these issues, “it is as if the CLICO Policyholders of Barbados are back to square one and having to relive the same nightmare a second time around.”

She said the individuals affected had “put their trust in a government-regulated insurance company, and as recently as last year, once more trusted in a Supreme Court order to deliver them from their nightmare”.

“As I reflect on the last ten years of the CLICO disaster, which has devastated the lives of tens of thousands of policyholders and their families throughout the Caribbean region, I am deeply saddened by the fact that BIPA finds itself back in court still fighting for a successful resolution for the policyholders in Barbados,” she said.

The BIPA president also reminded that “while awaiting a resolution to the debacle, hundreds of policyholders passed away without ever knowing if their families would receive a red cent of the money so carefully put aside for them over the years”. (SC)

June Fowler (FP)

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