Curtis Tonge
Curtis Tonge

Almost three decades since it was established here in Dominica within which time it made its way to the top of the insurance market, First Domestic Insurance Company (FDIC) Ltd has finally reached the end of its road.

Since the passage of Hurricane Maria, things took a downturn for the company which boasted, on the internet, of being the "first and only General Insurance Company" and that it is "currently the largest general insurance company in Dominica", a position it has held from 1997.

One year after Hurricane Maria, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Curtis Tonge of the company informed the Sun that FDIC was still in the position that it was in about two months after the Hurricane.

"We had over 4,000 claims and have paid out about 3,500 claims with about 400 still outstanding. After Hurricane Maria, we were the company that was settling claims the fastest. To date, we have paid out over one $100 million as a local company and I must admit that at this time payment is slow," he said.

Tonge said the reinsurance coverage that FDIC had for the past 20 years did not stand up to Maria and FDIC was in a tight financial position, having to loan $5 million from the Government.

In 2019, the company announced that it had facilitated an arrangement with the Insurance Company of the West Indies (ICWI) to continue to provide insurance coverage to its Dominican clients.

Last week, FDIC Ltd announced that it will cease to operate as of June 25, 2021.

Though the Sun could not obtain a comment from heads of the company a press release indicated that by Court Order dated 17 November 2020, FDIC Ltd had been placed under judicial management and Mr. Michael G Toney chartered accountant of Trinidad and Tobago had been appointed Judicial Manager.

According to the statement, upon the conclusion of Toney's investigations and inquiries and reporting to the High Court, by Order of the Honourable Justice Bimie Stephenson dated 3 June 2021, the appointment of Toney to act in such a position was revoked and the company ordered wound up.

The Court further ordered that Toney be appointed Liquidator of the Company, with all of the powers and duties of liquidators conferred by the Insurance Act and the Companies Act.

In addition to empowering the liquidator to take possession of all of the company's books and assets and vesting all of its property in the liquidator the Court also ordered (among other things), that all pending actions and proceedings and the execution of all writs, summonses and other processes, against the company, be stayed and not proceeded with unless otherwise ordered by the Court.

It was also ordered that the liquidator proceed to conduct the winding up of the company with the greatest economy compatible with efficiency.

"The public is advised that the principal responsibility of the liquidator is to convert any assets of the company into cash and to settle its debts in accordance with the law. At this early stage of the process, the liquidator is unable to make any comment as to what sums may be available to settle such obligations," the statement indicated.

As further informed, the liquidator Intends shortly to begin reviewing the claims which have already been filed, to arrive at a fairly accurate estimate upon which to determine some manner of payment.

"There is, therefore, no need for persons who have already filed claims to resubmit the same. Persons who may wish to file claims not already submitted will very shortly be advised of how they will be able to submit such claims.

Former clients were assured that the liquidator intends to put in place an appropriate mechanism by which creditors will be kept informed of the progress of the liquidation, as well as provide such information and assistance as may be necessary to advance their claims.