Tough times for insurers

Insurance firms are grappling with pressure to settle claims by owners of vehicles burnt or vandalised by pro-shutdown pickets during or before strikes.

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The companies have counted Tk 570 million in losses over the last three months, the Bangladesh Insurance Association (BIA) said in a report on Wednesday.

BIA President Sheikh Kabir Hossain told bdnews24.com that the companies were struggling to settle claims worths Tk 50.5 million.

“The overall trade and commerce, including insurance business, are under threat.”

The political situation in Bangladesh has been heating up since early February over the verdicts by the International Crimes Tribunals against the 1971 war criminals and amid frequent shutdown called by the BNP-led 18-Party Alliance.

Hundreds of vehicles and establishments were torched during the period.

The insurance companies face pressure when the owners of vehicles affected by strikes claim damages.

The BIA asked the companies to submit to it the statistics of claims made between Jan 31 and Apr 15.

Thirty-seven out of 43 insurance companies provided the information based on which the regulator prepared the report.

The report said that as many as 57 small and large motor vehicles were burned down in the last three months and the owners claimed Tk 26.4 million in damages.

About Tk 20 million was claimed in damages over the acts of arson in business establishments and industrial units during the shutdowns. In addition, Tk 7.6 million was claimed for the incidents of vandalism and other incidents.

The real value of the damaged goods and motor vehicles is Tk 566.72 million, of which the money claimed from the insurance companies is Tk 54 million.

The damaged properties including four-wheeled small and large vehicles, business establishments and equipment of the industries were estimated in the report, but there is no specific information about long-distance buses and trucks.

A good number of buses, trucks and trains were torched in violence during the period.

Communications Minister Obaidul Quader in early April said that the transport sector incurred a loss of Tk 205.05 million due to vandalism and arson of vehicles by political parties over the last two and a half months.

The trade bodies have long been urging the political parties to stop enforcing strikes for the sake of economy.

Kabir Hossain, Chairman of Sonar Bangla Insurance Company Ltd, said: “Destructive political programme like shutdown should be banned. The political parties have to realise that no one can come to power by harming trade and commerce and disrupting normal life.”

Source: bdnews24

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