Today, the Brokerage Association represents a vibrant non-oil sector that contributes to employment and sustained growth in our economy and by extension, our country. In the early 1960’s however, the Profession was still nascent: the first two Brokers on the Island were Nigel Slinger of Insurance Consultants Limited and Ted Munro of Insurance Brokers (W.I.) Limited. There were many Insurers in the sector however, both local and foreign firms.
The Local Insurers bound together in the mid 1960’s to form ATTIC – The Association of Trinidad and Tobago Insurance Companies (some of these founding firms still exist today, and some are long defunct). As a result of the formation of this group, the existing Brokers (which had grown in number) felt that they needed a unified front and voice to which the Insurers could respond and direct queries. Charles Paterson of Consolidated Insurance Consultants was the first President of the Association, Peter Farah of Agostini Insurance Brokers Limited, the first Vice-President, and Nigel Slinger of Insurance Consultants Limited, the first Secretary. Now the Brokers could act with one voice, and this set the stage for improved relations with Insurance Companies.
The pioneers of the Brokerage Association addressed many issues in their time, one of the most important being the Tariff System. The Insurance Companies operated under cartel conditions, with Associations, such as the Fire Association of Trinidad, setting fixed rates or Tariffs based on area and construction type classifications. Sugar being transported via truck on rails from Estates to Port of Spain were to attract a rate of no less than $6.25 per mille of risk for example. By setting the rates, terms, warranties and policy conditions applicable to each risk type, the Insurers who opted to join the Associations tried to strangle competition, and remove one of the benefits of having a Broker – the ability to source competitive alternative quotations. These Tariff Associations were broad in scope – addressing Non-industrial risks, Industrial risks, Goods/ Contents, Goods In Transit, Motor Vehicle and Agricultural Machinery, Plantation and Workmen’s Compensation Insurances.
After the formation of the Brokerage Association, Brokers expected and soon started to obtain premium rates for their clients identical to those offered through the Insurance Agents. Their requests for improved Policy Conditions were more readily considered and commission terms were more readily agreed. The improved conditions for the Broker were by extension improved conditions for their clients and the Insuring public at large.
As time passed, the Association would perforce address many matters: The Association contributed to the drafting of the Insurance Act of 1980, suggesting to the Government of the day improvements and structures that would guide the Insurance sector’s development.
The Association witnessed the Protectionism and Foreign Exchange control measures of the late 1970s and 1980s and the resultant effect of restricting or regulating trade with foreign Insurers and other foreign-owned financial institutions. Lloyds was already a locally registered entity at this time, and remained a fixture in the sector.
The Association was present when the Academy of Insurance was established, providing Instructive Classes in the Profession from which local Insurers would cull their Underwriters, and serving to promote a level of professionalism and professional standards that the Second and Third generation of Brokers benefited from. The Association would stand up to Insurers who failed to honor their member’s status with client’s, “blackballing” Insurers who went behind Broker’s backs to attack their accounts.
The Brokers saw the demise of the Government’s imposition of localized Reinsurance cover for state risks. In 1975, with the state’s formation of The Reinsurance Company of Trinidad and Tobago the state attempted to secure insurance/ reinsurance placements for major industrial risks locally. The state would divest its interest in this venture in 1994. The Association was witness to the breaking up of the monopoly on government Insurance business:
Broker’s today benefit by being able to quote on State Enterprise Insurance risks. The Association would witness the Amendments to the Insurance Act of 2004 that would see the Office of the Supervisor of Insurance defunct, and the regulatory function of the State on Insurance matters invested under the Central Bank’s Office of the Financial Institutions Supervision Department.
The Association has acted as guide/ mentor/ problem solver for many a Member seeking advice on the Insurance Act, the Amendments to same in 2004, and the proposed Amendments that the Central Bank had been promoting during the last Government’s administration.
Today the Association represents 33 members – from sole traders, to multi-national Brokers who operate throughout the Caribbean, and who call Trinidad home. The Association is a voice for Brokers in Trinidad, and their clients. As Brokers represent the majority of General Insurance business placed with local Insurers, and a considerable percentage of Long Term risks as well, the Association’s members wield considerable economic weight. The sector is a vibrant one, and faced with increasing regulation and oversight by the Central Bank, coupled with higher demands placed upon Broker’s by a more perceptive and worldly clientele, the Broker is encouraged towards greater Professional Development and Market Awareness – both attributes that the Association actively works towards promoting.