Shutdown of Cyprus Insurance Company Leaves 200,000 Bulgarians Uncovered

(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, FILE)

Bulgarian authorities are demanding answers after the shutdown of Cyprus’ Olympic Insurance left 200,000 policyholders without coverage and the company owing 4.7 million euros ($5.46 million to 197,551 customers.

Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zakharieva summoned Cypriot Ambassador Marios Kountourides to explain what happened and said the role of the country’s ’s Financial Supervision Commission (KFN) would be probed and wanted Cyprus’ Finance Ministry to get involved, Bulgaria’s 24chasa.bg reported.

Olympic customers in Bulgaria also protested in the Capital of Sofia, the news agency Reuters said, and Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has gotten involved, along with the Parliament.

The Cypriot insurance company was liquidated last week, three months after it barred it from entering new contracts with customers citing capital requirements issues, the Cyprus Mail said.

Neither Finance Minister Harris Georgiades nor Cyprus’ Insurance Companies Control Service could not be reached for comment, the paper said.

A unidentified government source told the paper that Kountourides was invited to a “briefing and to discuss the matter” and was in contact with Superintendent of Insurance Victoria Natar about what could be done for the Bulgarian customers.

Olympic, owned by Luxembourg’s Hispakol, informed policyholders in Cyprus about the problem, via text message and gave a contact number that one customer told the paper wasn’t working.

Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor ordered an investigation into whether KFN had properly supervised Olympic’s operations and that it had barred Olympic from taking on new business in May, said Reuters.

According to 24chasa.bg, Kountourides assured the Bulgarian foreign minister that “it is not politicians but (instead) people come first, so the two governments need to do whatever is possible to resolve the matter”.

“Our relations to Cyprus are excellent and I hope to have your cooperation,” Zakharieva countered. “What we need to do is react as fast as possible”.