Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
OCHO RIOS, St Ann:
CGM GALLAGHER branch manager for western Jamaica, Collin Hurge is recommending that the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) increase the minimum liability insurance coverage for villa operators to US$1 million.
Currently, villa operators are required to have a minimum coverage of J$1 million in order to be granted a licence to operate.
Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Jamaica Association of Villas and Apartments (JAVA) at Villa Viento in Tower Isle, St Mary, last Saturday, Hurge said the J$1 million coverage is inadequate and cannot even cover legal expenses if an operator is being sued.
He later told The Gleaner: "My recommendation is that villa operators should carry no less than US$1 million worth of coverage. You can't have someone who is taking persons on their property and carry policies for only J$1 million or J$5 million, it doesn't make any sense. That limit can't even cover legal expenses in the event that the operator is being sued in the event of an incident."
Hurge said villa operators should aim not to just satisfy the J$1 million requirement in order to obtain their licence, but for a figure that reflects the changing times. Failing this, he is urging the JTB to increase the minimum requirement to US$1 million.
"They do need to change it," Hurge argued. "I don't see the logics in a villa operator who is taking tourists from overseas being told that they need to carry a policy with a minimum of J$1 million. Yet if you go to TPDCo (Tourism Product Development Company) or JTB and you're operating a bookshop from within a resort, they're telling you that you need to get US$1 million in liability in order to get the licence."
Hurge said a premium for US$1 million liability coverage is quite affordable based on the current programme that CGM Gallagher has for JAVA members and individual operators.
"When you look at the premium for US$1 million liability, it's not even what a family that is renting a villa is paying for a week. That is what they would pay for a full year, so it is affordable," Hurge said.