Following two fires that devastated the Gafoors Group of Companies branch at Houston, East Bank Demerara on May 9 and October 10, 2016, the company has received what was described as a “sizable” insurance settlement but it has not disclosed the quantum in what was expected to be a payout of billions.
For months after the fires, Stabroek News had attempted to ascertain the size of the insurance claims in light of the possibility that fire insurance premiums in the commercial sector could rise significantly as a result of a large payout. Gafoors provided no information on the size of the claims. Following the payouts there is also no information on whether the claims were met in their entirety. The fires had resulted in billions of dollars in losses.
Following the settlement of the claims, the company recognised its broker, P&P Insurance for its “excellent support and claims services.”
At a luncheon, Execu-tive Chairman of the company, Sattaur Gafoor presented P&P Insurance with a plaque in recognition of its efforts.
Chief Executive Officer of P&P, Bishwa Panday, in an invited comment, told Stabroek News (SN) that the “claim has been fully settled.”
He said too that it was the largest single fire claim in the history of Guyana but because of client confidentiality he could not disclose the size.
Panday told this newspaper too that the second fire devastated the business even before the first claim was settled and that “instead of dealing with one, we had to do two claims.”
At the ceremony, he thanked Gafoor for the kind gesture as well as his “claims team at P&P for their excellent work.”
He also expressed gratitude to the insurance companies and the loss adjusters for their support during the negotiations and the ensuing settlements.
A release issued by Guyenterprise, stated that Gafoor “acknowledged the good that financial institutions can do despite the conventional wisdom that often defames such institutions as socially useless.”
According to the release, Gafoor said that insurance companies are key contributors to human welfare and he was honoured to be a client of P&P Insurance, which stepped up to the plate during harrowing times.
Panday also said at the luncheon that “it was quite challenging to have Guyana’s single largest ever fire claim followed shortly by another claim but P&P met the challenges and was able to successfully negotiate both sets of claims to the satisfaction of the client.”
The first fire started in a bond located in the western section of the compound before quickly spreading to other sections. It destroyed close to 60 percent of the complex in its wake.
The second fire, which started in the recently repaired bond six, was suspected to be an act of arson and a man was taken into police custody. He was subsequently released without being charged because of a lack of evidence.
Fire Chief Marlon Gentle had told SN that they had completed the investigations into both fires and that the findings were handed over to the police. There has been no word from the police on this.
In an interview with Stabroek News following the May 9th fire, Gafoor had explained that the underwriters had said that the fire was one of the largest they had dealt with and the insurance payout was expected to amount to billions.
At that time, Gafoor had estimated that damage to the building was some $12 billion, excluding the cost of the merchandise destroyed. He had further stated that they had to answer a lot of questions and provide records for the value of the stocks up to the time of the fire to the insurance company.
“We have been able to provide stocks up to the date prior to the fire and we had some difficulties to get up records for the day of the fire but fortunately they [underwriters] have accepted a pro-rata basis for sales made and valuation of stocks around the same time. So by and large, I think we are about 80% where the stocks are concerned,” Gafoor had told this newspaper.