A friendly society is pursuing a Supreme Court order that would instruct the government to process its insurance policies.

The Bentley Friendly Society finds itself in a political and potential legal tangle  with the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) and multiple governmental departments over its recently launched insurance coverage schemes. The society, on its website, offers policies for both property and auto insurance. Essentially, it’s acting as an insurer whose members retain their own risk of financial loss. The society says it pools a bunch of premiums together to finance the losses of the members.

However, the society’s insurance offerings have attracted the attention of the BMA, which last month said such policies are currently unregulated in Bermuda, which would mean the society does not need to comply with solvency or liquidity requirements that apply to other domestic insurers under law. That, in turn, would raise questions about whether such a society could pay policyholder claims if and when they became due.

The government and the authority’s antagonistic policy toward the society’s insurance policies, according to a statement from one of its trustees, has prompted the return of thousands of dollars in premiums to its policyholders because the Transport Control Department will not process their documents. The society claims such rejections are illegal.

“Economic freedom and power is not given. It is taken. We are taking ours,” said Kevin Bean-Walls, a trustee of the society, through a statement.

“Our largest fans are business people who are tired of being screwed by third party capital,” said Mr. Bean-Walls through a statement. “Their frustration with putting in claims and being nickelled-and-dimed is what is driving their attraction to us.”

The society has members that contribute premium payments “consistent with what they would pay to Colonial or Argus”.

The society says it is allowed to do so under a 146-year law: the Friendly Society Act of 1868. The establishment of friend societies was intended to allow for “economic and social relief of its members, their children, wives, parents, infants, in their old age, sickness, infirmity of mind, body or widowhood.”

The BMA, as well as the Bermuda Attorney General’s office, the Ministry of Finance and the Transport Control Department all declined to comment for this piece.


The society has used loaded rhetoric to attack its detractors, at one point comparing the policies of the current government to those of Hitler.

“This issue is about money, economic freedom and power, and the willingness of the people of this country to allow this OBA government to flout the laws of this land. Hitler was allowed to flout laws and human rights as well — we saw how that turned out,” he said.

Asked about the Hitler reference, Mr Bean-Walls did not back off his previous comments. “War is about money,” he said through an e-mail. “Hitler and his people were thieves in my eyes. They stole and plundered. The main point with the reference to Hitler is that good people saw what he was doing and did nothing. There is a lot of economic pain and suffering going on in this island. If the government does not find a way to allow people to help themselves we are going to have problems.”