Tue | Dec 12, 2017

JN Insurance snags NHT account

Published:Sunday | September 10, 2017 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder
The National Housing Trust headquarters at Park Boulevard, New Kingston.

JN General Insurance Company Limited has snagged the National Housing Trust account, covering the peril insurance component of the mortgage loans issued by the agency.

NHT mortgagors are required to pay for life and peril insurance, but those expenses are bundled into their mortgage payments.

NHT pays the premiums directly to its selected insurance partner, then collects from mortgagors through their monthly loan payments.

On Friday, Jamaica National Group Assistant General Manager in charge of Group Finance, Earl Samuels, described the NHT contract as "a very complex thing" and that JN General was fronting the business in partnership with several international reinsurers to provide full coverage. He said the NHT portfolio was valued at $200 billion.

NHT's former peril insurance partner was American Home Assurance Company, which rebranded as Chartis Jamaica in 2012, then later became AIG Jamaica Insurance Company. AIG Jamaica stopped writing business in January 2015 as it finalised arrangements to pull out of the Jamaican market the following year.

The summary document naming American Home/Chartis as the peril insurer was still on the NHT website up to Friday, whereas the document naming JN General as peril insurer was either pulled off the site or rerouted elsewhere.

NHT now oversees 106,000 mortgage loans and a portfolio valued at more than $170 billion. But factoring for the Joint Finance Mortgage Programme through which contributors can obtain financing from the NHT and its partners, the trust said the portfolio tops $200 billion.

The NHT contract portends strong growth for JN General, which wrote gross premiums of $5.2 billion in 2016, compared to $4.89 billion the year before, according to its latest audited accounts. NHT has not been forthcoming on the amount it currently collects in insurance premiums from its mortgagors. However, four years ago, those collections for peril insurance were tracking at $900 million, according to previous disclosures by the housing agency.

 

COVERS LOAN BALANCE

 

JN General's boss, Chris Hind, did not respond to requests for comment. His operation last contributed net profit of $530 million to the JN Group at year ending December 2016. That's down from $601 million in 2015.

NHT said the peril insurance for strata units or apartments covers the loan balance against loss or damage to the unit.

In general, NHT facilitates life and peril insurance coverage for mortgagors. Mortgagors' monthly loan payments therefore include the principal and interest, life insurance and peril insurance premiums.

The life insurance component, which is handled by Sagicor Life Jamaica, covers the outstanding loan balance if a mortgagor dies. The peril insurance policy covers fire, earthquake, hurricane, storm, flooding and wind damage.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com