Insurance broker Neil Henderson: “Gonzalo damages won’t exceed $5 million”

POSTED: 10/17/14 4:10 PM

St. Maarten -“All in all, between property damage, damage to boats and business interruption, I don’t think it will exceed 5 million dollars in losses,” said Neil Henderson, CEO of Henderson Insurances, when asked for an assessment of the damages on St. Maarten caused by Hurricane Gonzalo.

His assessment is based on several factors. Based on media reports, many water vessels were damaged during the passing of Gonzalo, which would lead one to think that the level of damages would exceed the 5 million mark; however, Henderson said “bear in mind that most of the boats that you see on St. Maarten are not really insured on the island. They are insured where they are registered.” Many of these sailing vessels are registered overseas.

He pointed out that one contributing factor to this approximation was the lack of hurricane preparedness due to people not having ample time to prepare for the hurricane. “Based on everything, and taking into account that the notification to the public was, in my opinion, somewhat late, the level of preparedness compared to the past was not high.” At about 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, the department of communication (DCOMM) issued a press release to all media outlets, wherein the department of disaster management (ODM) urged residents to make the necessary preparations. On Monday morning at approximately 9:30, DCOMM issued another press release, wherein ODM advised businesses to close at 12:00 p.m. to accommodate hurricane preparations. By mid-afternoon, however, the effects of Gonzalo could already be felt.

Henderson pointed out that adherence to the island’s building codes could also have been a contributing factor to lessen damages. “Secondly, a positive influence was the building codes and the adherence thereof. Thirdly, the damages were mostly on the vegetation, and those things are, generally, not insured.” Based on media reports, many private residences and businesses sustained water damage. “One thing I’ve learned is that there is no waterproof building on St. Maarten. Water came in no matter what type of structure you have,” said Henderson.

He went on to add that contractors, hardware stores and shipping companies will benefit economically from the damage Gonzalo caused. “As usual, you will notice a spike in spending abilities, which will hit the contractors and hardware stores. There will also be lots of shipments with building material coming in to the island. The shipping companies will see a spike along with those working in construction and construction-related services,” Henderson predicted.




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