Mon | Apr 19, 2021

CAB reorienting business towards online services

Published:Sunday | February 28, 2021 | 12:20 AMKarena Bennett - Business Reporter

Jolted by the pandemic, insurance brokerage Caribbean Assurance Brokers Limited, CAB, has pumped funds into new software and is building out an online platform that it intends to position as its primary conduit for doing business. The transition...

Jolted by the pandemic, insurance brokerage Caribbean Assurance Brokers Limited, CAB, has pumped funds into new software and is building out an online platform that it intends to position as its primary conduit for doing business.

The transition from manual to online services will start with CAB’s international health division during the second quarter of 2021, after which CAB is prepared to add online services for its local business divisions: general insurance and employee benefit.

For the nine-month period ending September 2020, CAB’s unaudited financials showed losses of $23.4 million on revenues of $213 million, a performance the company said was largely related to COVID-related impacts, and changes in the policy renewal year for one of the products it represents, the International Comprehensive Health Insurance Programme, or ICHIP, which switched from August to November. It meant that payments that would have become due in the third quarter, ending September, would jump to the fourth quarter, instead.

Deputy CEO of CAB, Tania Waldron-Gooden, said the revenue is being recognised in the December quarter instead.

Waldron-Gooden also told the Financial Gleaner that the company spent the better part of 2020 developing the new software, and completed its integration with CAB’s business website in January. Now, the insurance company awaits approvals from the Financial Services Commission to begin selling services through the platform, but in the meantime, CAB can facilitate insurance queries on its website.

“We have an international product that we are working on now where everything can be done online – from the client applying, getting quotes, right through to the completion stage,” said Waldron-Gooden. She declined to disclose the size of the investment made in the platform.

CAB’s switch from a manual to an automated process is a critical part of the company’s plan to secure new business as well as retain market share for the insurance company as the year progresses.

The international insurance division, which will first migrate to the new platform, currently has three types of insurance business: international health insurance, international life insurance, international travel insurance. CAB is the exclusive broker of the ICHIP product, which falls under the international division, and which provides comprehensive health insurance worldwide, with maximum coverage of US$2 million.

The company’s employee benefits division offers group health insurance; group life insurance; group personal accident insurance; and group pension services; and property insurance, goods-in-transit and motor vehicle insurance under the general insurance division.

CAB has been in the insurance business since 2005. It went public and listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange in February 2020, having raised $100 million on the junior market, part of which was earmarked as funding for expansion of the company’s brokerage operation in other Caribbean territories.

There was no immediate update on the regional prospects at CAB’s first annual general meeting since its listing, but Waldron-Gooden later told the Financial Gleaner that the company was on the lookout for business opportunities.

“Apart from the development of the software, which is a big thing for us now, we intend to grow organically and inorganically – that’s all I’ll say for now,” she said. “We are keeping ourselves liquid for opportunities that may present itself and our outlook for 2021 is positive.”

CAB closed the nine-month period leading up to September 30 with total assets of $706 million, 48 per cent higher than its asset value for the comparative period of 2019. And its cash holdings have doubled over the past year to $74 million.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com