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Namdevco medical plan ‘goes against Cabinet decision’
Talks between officials of 21st Century Insurance, Reinsurance Insurance Brokers Ltd (CIBL) and the National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (Namdevco) to implement a State Enterprises Medical Plan (SEMP) at the state body are contrary to a Cabinet decision to approve Risk Management Services (RMS) for the job, sources told the T&T Guardian yesterday.
The switch in brokers was revealed in an e-mail circulated to Namdevco’s staff earlier this month which stated: “The plan with 21st Century includes health, life, critical illness, accidental death and disbursement etc… it's a major medical also. The broker has indicated there is not an option for the plan. All participants must enrol in both medical and life plan.”
Approval for 210 staff members at the state entity to take part in a medical plan brokered by RMS was granted in Cabinet Minute No 296 dated February 2, 2012. However, there is no evidence of Cabinet approval to switch to CIBL, a firm owned by Wayne Wayne Gosine, brother of Neil Wayne Gosine, managing director of Comprehensive Insurance Brokers and chairman of National Petroleum Co Ltd.
In March, RMS officials met with the management of Namdevco to discuss introduction and implementation of the plan. That session included a PowerPoint presentation on SEMP. However, on Monday representatives of CIBL met with staff at Namdevco to address concerns arising out of the planned change of brokers, including increased premium rates and lack of coverage for beneficiaries.
An employee told the T&T Guardian: “In some instances the premium has increased, while in one of the other plans not all dependents are covered. “Up to now RMS is not aware that they were shafted. They have been getting the runaround since earlier this year. Everything they call they are told to call back. We need the minister to get involved.”
A monthly commission of five to ten per cent of premiums is normally payable to the broker for the plan. Confirmation of RMS as the broker to implement SEMP at state enterprises was given in a December 23, 2009, letter to Namdevco from the Ministry of Finance.
The letter stated: “The Ministry of Finance, in conjunction with RMS and several interested state enterprises, devised a medical plan for the sector and Beacon Insurance was identified as the most appropriate insurance provider.”
In September 2010, the office of the Chief Personnel Officer wrote to Namdevco’s former deputy CEO Elbert Johnson, informing him that plans to approach a new insurance provider were not applicable, given that employees were entitled to coverage under SEMP. The former board had recommended that Sagicor be the insurance provider. However, that recommendation was scrapped.
RMS has implemented SEMP at other state agencies, including Government Information Services Ltd, the National Commission for Self Help, Seafood Industry Development Company Ltd, T& T Entertainment Industry, T&T International Financial Centre and Government Human Resources Services
Contacted yesterday, managing director of RMS Christian Low said the insurance company had not been informed of a plan to change the broker. He added: “RMS is the broker to the Government of T&T. On behalf of the Ministry of Finance SEMP was developed. The medical plan was devised to assist state enterprises that do not have a medical plan.
“SEMP was approved by the Finance Ministry and all state enterprises were informed of the medical plan. We are on record as implementing SEMP.” Low said several unsuccessful attempts were made to confirm when the SEMP would be implemented at Namdevco.
He added: “Up to August I had discussions with officials at Namdevco about implementing SEMP. We were given a date, then the date was changed so I do not know what is going on. “As far as my records show, they have never come on board. We provided all the necessary information they requested but we have not received any feedback.”
Low referred all other questions to Beacon Insurance. However, Beacon Insurance vice president Gordon Gatt Sr refused to discuss the situation. Also distancing himself from the matter was Namdevco chairman Robert Ramsamooj. In response to a text message asking him to name the broker and insurance provider for the SEMP, Ramsamooj said: “I am not an executive chairman. Not familiar with the matter.”
This development follows reports that another firm, M&M Insurance Brokers, was sidelined and replaced by CIBL to provide coverage for $60 million worth of Namdevco assets.
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