“I can’t believe I’m doing this!” The words burst unbidden from my mouth when I spotted my mode of transport to Anguilla from St Maarten on September 23.
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CUNA launches unified brand
Officials in the local insurance industry are eagerly awaiting word on implementation of new legislation to govern the sector, says Andre Goindoo, managing director and CEO of CUNA Caribbean Insurance.
He said six months have passed since the Keith Rowley-led PNM administration took office and there has been no word on the status of the draft Bill brought to Parliament by the previous government.
Speaking during a function to mark the re-branding of CUNA Insurance as CUNA Caribbean Insurance at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad in Port-of-Spain, Goindoo said: “We’ve been operating for too long under out dated legislation. The industry along with the regulators have worked a long time modernising the legislation and getting it to a point where we think it would assist insurance companies and the broader insurance market, so we are anxious for the legislation to come to fruition.
He said the re-branding of CUNA is part of a deliberate regional transformation strategy aimed at strengthening the company’s presence in the markets in which it operates.
Goindoo said although CUNA Mutual Group has operated in the Caribbean for over six-and-a-half decades, the company did not leverage the strength of one unified brand.
“We have taken that decision to do that today with the strength of our parent company, so as we move forward throughout the Caribbean, we will be known by that one name: CUNA Caribbean Insurance which will stand for financial accessibility for all people and we will continue to be supported by our parent company.
“We are not a credit union. We are a multinational insurance company that in 1935 in the US was formed by the credit union movement, due to the unique needs of credit unions in the US that other providers were not servicing. So CUNA Mutual Group was formed in 1935 and in 1950 made the journey to Jamaica being that first country outside of North America, and since then we have grown by leaps and bounds.”
Goindoo said the company now serves most of the English speaking Caribbean.
“The people in the Caribbean didn’t understand how large we were and the strength of our parent company, so, we thought it was an appropriate time to re-establish our presence in the Caribbean, but unifying our businesses across the region under one brand and that brand signifies financial accessibility for all people. We plan to be that organisation that anyone could come to and find financial security by virtue of the products and services and most importantly the cost point of those products and services.”
Goindoo said CUNA introduced the ground breaking family indemnity plan into the Caribbean—the first product that allowed a person to pay one premium that covers up to six members of a family.
“Every time we launch a new feature of the plan it sells like hot bread. So we have some plans to bring some extensions to that. We recently launched a critical illness plan associated with that and we have some plans to bring some more products along those lines, because we believe the market needs it. We believe based on our research that critical illness is a big concern for Caribbean persons and we believe that product would do extremely well.”
Questioned about the timing of the launch in the current a gloomy economic environment, Goindoo said: “What better time to say that we are here to help? That is our position on the timing. You could never plan too far ahead and you could never know what the future holds. We have to be clear about who we are and what we plan to do and who we serve and that’s what this rebranding was about.”
He added: “Person losing their jobs will affect the entire economy. We are part of the economy so we are not going to let that deter us from the value we bring to the people that we serve. At the end of the day, our products are value added products. They are products that anyone could get access to notwithstanding the economy. We are going to be the company that provides products that even the person with the humblest of means could afford.”