Friday, April 20, 2018

[Annotation] To Infinity and Beyond

By on December 15, 2017

Editor’s note: The following originally appeared in the December 14 print edition of Caribbean Business.

For many years, people have again and again told me stories about Hurricane Georges in Puerto Rico, which had passed in 1998. Not in my wildest dreams had I imagined to ever live through anything similar. In Germany, where I grew up, the extremes of natural events simply aren’t that extreme. So then, Irma and María came along.

Life after María in Puerto Rico will never be the same again for a very long time. Not only did two major hurricanes pass by and over the island, but the aftermath is actually worse than the hurricanes.

Between offers from the financial institutions that will only postpone a catastrophe for many into next year instead of helping by adding the months gained at the end of mortgage contracts, insurance companies taking a long time from receiving a claim to the actual payout or a potential taxation of exports from Puerto Rico in the future—the aftermath is worse! If we don’t soon create a solid perspective addressing all of the above, this will pose the greatest threat to exodus and business, in an unimagined dimension!

Where insult gets added to injury is the insurance business. Even if one did everything right, you might be inundated by requests for information, and then, more information and creative ways on how to calculate what the insurance should actually pay you, in a manner to postpone payout as long as possible, to then negotiate once more and pay less. Is that still constructive?

We, at Latin Media House, have been feeling this ourselves. María made it impossible for us to move back into and report from our existing facilities in Santurce. No electricity from Prepa, the substations on the roof destroyed, also the condensers for the air conditioners, no phone or internet connectivity, soon the smell of fungus spread in the hot, humid air throughout the entire building—and not even a forecast to get any of this fixed any time soon. Show me how you can produce a newspaper or a magazine or even a website with a well-researched article—anywhere in the world—without all of the above!

So, in coordination with our great insurance brokers and countless hours of legwork, we made it possible to move to a new location, which at some point next year would have happened anyway—still far away from being operational but at least our stuff is there.

In hindsight our actions were confirmed. By the date of this publication, reparation of what are now our former buildings has not even started. So, again, we did the right thing and kept on relying on having the claims that our finance department had worked on during another set of countless hours, to be quickly processed, leading to the payout for which one pays the business interruption insurance.

They are still “adjusting” and “calculating,” and one feels as if we are asking for something that wasn’t ours, but is exactly what we paid a hefty insurance premium for. All of that is while I think our publications provide an essential public service by informing you about what’s going on.

If you had similar difficult experiences with your insurance, we’d like to learn about it; please write us in strict confidentiality to maria@lmh.pr. Eva Lloréns interviewed the Insurance Commissioner for you; read about it on page 9.

Insurance Losses Could Lead to Hike in Reinsurance Rates

During this entire time, and with the gracious help of Jon Borschow and the Foundation for Puerto Rico, we found a way to place at least a skeleton crew of our editors in their offices, to feed our websites with news and background for you.

Some say this has been the best coverage about what’s going on. I say, the storm has not only brought out the worst, but also the best in people, which we want to point at in our “Unsung Heroes.”

This, too, shall pass and we’ll all come back stronger from this. But for future generations, Maria will dominate the stories about the island. Caribbean Business will be there to inform you. We are back.

Person of the Year: Maria’s Unsung Heroes

 

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