FDIC's Curtis Tonge: "Bear with us"
Almost three years after Hurricane Maria, a number of people insured with First Domestic Insurance Co Ltd (FDIC) are yet to be paid claims. One person has since filed a lawsuit against the company seeking thousands of dollars in claims.
FDIC found itself in hot water with its clients because it was unable to meet its commitment and obligations.
Curtis Tonge, the Chief Executive Officer of FDIC confirmed that he received court documents filed from one of his clients but Tonge declined an invitation to speak further on the matter.
After Hurricane Maria, the Government of Dominica provided FDIC with a loan of EC$ 5 million to assist the company in paying out claims to policy holders affected by Hurricane Maria but that amount was woefully inadequate.
"We are still in the process of negotiation because our claims were exceedingly higher than our insurance treaties, so we have quite a difference. We are seeking to raise funds and are presently talking to some private investors. We are also having discussions with government who has also helped us tremendously from the start," Tonge said.
He added: "The Government of Dominica has been good enough to provide us with a loan of $5 million, and I repeat it's a loan of $5 million, for ten years at a small interest rate of three percent and we had to give properties as securities. If we had to go to the bank it would have been at seven, eight, nine or even ten percent interest."
But insurers believe that not enough is being done to pay up and the government should have done much more.
"The government is also responsible and should ensure that every insurance holder gets paid. It is not fair almost three years after Hurricane Maria (we are still waiting to be paid)," said another client who requested anonymity to speak candidly on the matter.
According to another person, who also requested anonymity, he has held several meetings on behalf of his company with Tonge but the situation remains the same.
"Our claim was just over 2.1 million and in the spirit of good faith after discussions we agreed to settle for just about 1.2 million but to date not a cent has been paid to us after many letters," he said.
"Someone needs to go to jail for this because they played the fool with us. We have paid our insurance and we have suffered major damages and we are yet to receive a dime," another client said adding that his amount to be settled is under $25,000. According to the client, the debt owed to insurers is "probably well over EC$20 million but as I've said before, the company needs some financial help and the negotiation with government continues".
Tonge concluded: "From the look of things, we probably will not get there by the end of July or even mid-August. So we are putting together a new proposal to put before our investors that we are looking at and also the government. We are trying to see what we can do but it's not easy. We are asking our policy holders to bear with us and we are thankful to those who are patient with us and understood the challenge we have before us and I am asking them to continue to bear with us in the circumstances".