Ten years of uncertainty have ended in joy for hundreds of CLICO Life Insurance policyholders, who this week started receiving their monies from the company’s court-ordered successor, Resolution (RES) Life Assurance Company Ltd.
Scores of mostly-middle aged and elderly people crammed into the lobby and spilled outside of the company’s Worthing Corporate Centre headquarters waiting eagerly to receive their long-awaited cheques.
Reports suggest over 600 of the 8,944 policyholders so far received their cash.
“We will wait, it’s not a problem,” one man declared. He said that for him, the experience has been positive.
“We are all happy that we will be getting some funds today and we recognize Government is making an effort to bring a resolution to this whole problem with people’s pensions and so on and at the same time be able to meet with other folks with whom we can share our experiences. So far I think it has been a positive experience.”
Margaret, a former CLICO customer told Barbados TODAY she received her monthly pension every month since ResLife’s establishment, but announced she would be “a happy lark” after receiving the lump sum.
“When they took over, they sent me documentation and told me the back pension that I had not received, I would get within a certain time frame and they stuck within the time frame and I got my lump sum amount.
“They sent me a letter setting out what is going on and saying to me to come in to claim. They sent the figure that I was supposed to get and they said to come in and sign the documents, provide proof of address and that kind of thing,” revealed Margaret, a Barbadian living in St. Vincent.
Last month in Parliament, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced policyholders and claimants would get up to $20,000 in cash and their remaining money due to them in 15-year bonds to be paid out quarterly. Acknowledging Government would be unable to repay all policyholders the entire amounts owed, Mottley promised to ensure they received at least some of the money.
On hand to oversee the process was Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn and ResLife Chairman Tony Hoyos.
Straughn expressed satisfaction that the process had finally started, but said many were still unhappy with the length of time it took to recoup the finances since the 2009 collapse of CLICO.
“As a new Government, we thought it important that we get a resolution as soon as possible, because it certainly was too long in coming for persons who, for whatever reasons, placed money in the management of CLICO, subsequently ResLife. We felt that with this wind-up of the company, these persons now would have the opportunity to make their own plans about their future from a financial perspective,” Straughn said.
Chairman Hoyos however revealed plans were in the pipeline which could prevent the former customers from waiting an extended period to recoup their losses.
“What the board of directors of Resolution Life is going to work on is to create a secondary market on those bonds, so that if some person prefers to cash those bonds out now, there would be a willing buyer and the price would be stated and you would have the option to cash in some or all of your bonds. So that is an active process ongoing now…” said Hoyos.
Amid the discomfort placed on former CLICO customers, Minister Straughn revealed the Financial Services Commission (FSC) was developing a framework to provide greater oversight on financial institutions.
“In the last few months, Government has begun to examine a resolution framework to outline numerous steps to be taken, so that if a financial institution fails, the fallout is minimized,” he said.
In light of the volume of companies trading across the region, he suggested a more expansive approach to tackling the problem.
“One of the challenges that certainly arose out of this experience was that there simply was not a united regional approach, with respect to the resolution of CLICO.
“So we are pushing to have greater regulation on the whole at a regional level, because when we have these cross border transactions, it becomes very complicated to have one regulator in one jurisdiction, looking after the interests of their citizens and leaving Barbadians here to do the same…The truth is that we have companies operating regionally and we feel when events like this happen and there is some failure, there must be a collective response to the problem.