'Habagat' damages less than 'Ondoy' - insurers

Posted at 08/10/2012 3:48 PM | Updated as of 08/10/2012 7:03 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Damages from the massive floods that hit Metro Manila this week appear to be "a lot less" compared with the damage wrought by tropical storm Ondoy in 2009, according to the Philippine Insurers and Reinsurers Association (PIRA).

PIRA chairman Pedro P. Benedicto Jr. said an informal survey of the organization's 83 non-life insurance companies showed the initial reported damage was not as severe as the damage caused by Ondoy.

"It may still be too early to say but so far we can say that the damage is a lot less than that from Ondoy," he said, in a statement.

Benedicto said the damages from the floods caused by "habagat" (southwest monsoon) would be well below the P11 billion in damages from Ondoy.

"Majority of the losses that we expect this time around would come from flooded warehouses, factories and malls. It would take at least another 2 weeks for these losses to be completely adjusted," he said.

While Ondoy caught many Filipinos off-guard, Benedicto noted that this time people learned their lesson and were prepared to deal with the floods. Ondoy made Filipinos more "insurance-conscious," he added.

"Many car owners who live in low-lying areas brought their cars to higher grounds. We saw subdivisions where cars were parked in the highest portion of the village to protect them from the flood. We know of some owners who simply availed of overnight parking in shopping malls just to be safe. For them the parking fee is cheaper than the price of repairing a flood-damaged car," he said.

"More people now are buying AOG (Acts of God) cover than before and more appreciate how important being insured is."

PIRA emphasized the importance of insurance in the Philippines, especially since an average of 20 typhoons hit the country every year.

"In a country like ours, being insured should be mandatory because it allows individuals and families to cope with natural and man-made risks. Without insurance, there can be no stability," Benedicto said.

Around 2.4 million people were affected by the heavy rains and flooding in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. The torrential rains, which began Monday evening and lasted until Wednesday, were caused by the southwest monsoon.