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Confusion Surrounds AARP Insurance Rate Reduction

May 24, 2005 –– Although Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards sent out a press release last week announcing the availability of an up to 10 percent discount for AARP members at two property insurance companies, an official at one said it just isn't so at his company.
"It is an error by the lieutenant governor's office," Rob Stewart said. "The AARP group discount in handled by Royal Sun Alliance."
Stewart is the chief of the underwriting office at Island Heritage insurance company in the Cayman Islands.
The press release indicated that Island Heritage and Real Legacy Insurance Co., formerly Royal and Sun Alliance were offering the discounts.
Jim Tunick at Theodore Tunick Co. insurance agency on St. Thomas said that Real Legacy has offered the AARP discount for several years.
"It's exclusive to Real Legacy," he said last week.
Tunick said that only one company is contracted offer property insurance to AARP members.
Richards did not return phone messages left Monday and Tuesday requesting comment. Messages left last week for Sandra Brunet, whose name appears as the contact person on the press release, were also not returned.
Richards, who serves as the territory's insurance commissioner, said in the news release that the companies voluntarily reduced the rates because there have been no catastrophic losses for nearly 10 years.
He also said that the "perceived risk" of the Virgin Islands insurance industry is changing in the London market, which increases the confidence of underwriters conducting business in the territory.
Additionally, he said that after Hurricane Marilyn in 1995, insurance carriers received rate increases due to an increase in reinsurance costs. Therefore, a rate reduction was long overdue.
Lastly, Richards said the rates charged are dynamic and change based on market conditions.
When contacted last week Denise Singleton, who heads AARP activities in the V.I., said she didn't know anything about the discounts. "That's great," she said.

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