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Lack of home insurance a concern
By Janelle Riley-Thornhill
I was attending a recent medical conference and there were repeated calls for persons to secure medical insurance so as to ensure that they have access to the best possible care at all times. The point was made that while this country more or less provides free health care for all citizens, those who can afford to purchase a health insurance policy should do as there is pressure on Government to provide health care for all.
Listening to the call for more people to access health insurance made me think of another type of insurance that I find that many Barbadians are still not making an effort to obtain – homeowners insurance. The importance of having a home insurance policy cannot be over emphasised and while none of us can predict if or when something tragic will happen to our home, there is no reason why we cannot be prepared in the event it does.
We all hear the reports of fires across the country, or I am sure we can recall the aftermath of Tropical Storm Tomas in 2010, where person after person announced so matter-of-factly that their homes was uninsured. Believe me when I say that it continues to baffle me that a person would invest thousands of dollars in building a home and then not seek to safeguard that investment against possible peril.
I have often heard individuals say that a home insurance policy is too costly, but if a fire engulfs your home or a hurricane flattens it, is the cost of replacing the home not more costly than a policy which costs a couple hundred dollars a year? Those who decide to stay uninsured show that we still have too many people in our society who are not willing to take responsibility for their own well-being. The reality is that if a person loses their home, the burden is then placed on the State to make provisions for them.
Admittedly, home insurance can be a major expense and given the prevailing economic conditions we are experiencing, I am concerned that more homeowners will start to contemplate whether or not carrying an insurance policy on their home is really necessary. To them I say bite the bullet; it is better to be safe than sorry. Certainly, home insurance is one of those things that we could care less about, until it is needed. And in the event that we have not bought a policy, we are then faced with an even greater problem.
This is not a plug for any of the insurance companies, but I am aware that many, if not all of them, offer flexible payment terms to their customers, giving as much as ten months in some cases to pay the insurance premiums. That allows a person to put aside a little every month to safeguard their homes and ensures peace of mind, and it is an option that I firmly believe more Barbadians should pursue. But, if a greater number of persons continue to leave their homes uninsured, I think that Government, as unpopular as the decision might be, may have to consider making homeowners insurance mandatory.