Mariental Insurance Talks Fail

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By Hoandi !Gaeb Mariental A concerted and last-ditch attempt by the business and local authority officials from Mariental to convince the Namibia Insurance Association to provide insurance cover for the flood prone parts of the town failed in Windhoek yesterday. The Namibia Insurance Association is adamant not to any longer provide insurance coverage for the town’s western parts unless something is done urgently and the government commits itself to actively getting involved in remedial action. Mariental’s Chief Executive Officer Paul Nghiwilepo, who was also part of the delegation told New Era however, that the NIA has not closed future negotiations on the subject. NIA’s decision not to reconsider its plans to cancel short-term insurance from October 1 virtually means the end of the town’s business nerve centre as it is known today. Nghiwilepo said the NIA is adamant about discontinuing insurance coverage for the flood prone parts of Mariental as the cost of insurance is rising at an alarming rate. He said negotiations are still underway to look at ways of remedying the situation. New Era has it on good authority that commercial banks are currently discussing ways to resolve the crisis as they are investing millions of dollars in private and business property in the affected areas. The official position of the municipality about the crisis facing the southern town will be thrashed out and announced next week after thorough consultations between mayor Priscilla Beukes, Governor Katrina Hanse and top local authority officials as well as the business people of the town. The Namibia Insurance Association contends that the flooding of Mariental has been a contentious issue for years now. This year alone, there have been four separate floods in the area, costing the industry more than three times the previous claims. It further states that increased catastrophes worldwide (including Namibia) are pushing up reinsurance premiums and this in turn affects insurance prices, making it more expensive for many clients not affected by a specific catastrophe like the current spate of floodings. In addition reinsurers are reluctant to provide cover on recurring events such as the Mariental floods. The NIA says despite the fact that the short-term insurance industry is in the business of paying claims, this type of inevitable loss cannot continue to be covered by the industry, without other parties contributing to the prevention or solution of the problem. According to the statement, debates have been raging in the printed media as to who is to blame for the flooding, but the issue remains unresolved.