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Jun 2020

Editor's Message

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Mar 2020

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down and manic panic fears are crippling forward movement. 
The global economy is already hard hit by the impact of the virus on China alone as supply chain disruption plays out to the fullest. Then there is the fear of travel crippling air and sea transit. The cruise business is on its knees, stripped of all romance. Marine and trade are already down. 
Even far away in Africa and the Middle East, they are crying over the impact. There is a shortage of so many items in the supply chain that it is affecting many factories and industries worldwide - from cars to chips and ‘phones and workers. Such is now the global power of China in the world economy. With China’s tourist outflow drying up, retail everywhere is down.
Some say by May, when the summer heat comes, the virus will have died out. Yet others believe that it could be earlier as the cure is presently being sought. Some hope it will soon be rated as similar to just another common cold-like virus. There are others who are digging in for a deeper, protracted prolonged fight. The healthcare situation in Asia is a question mark. 
Many deals have been cancelled with Asian businesses losing their lure. With social media, many conspiracy theories make their rounds until one gets so confused and paranoid.
With so much uncertainty in the air, some have already put in place their business contingency plans. They have split their staff into teams and only one team can be in the office at any one time. Key staff like CEOs and CFOs can only meet through the net. But with the grace of technology, business can go sail like boats against vicious currents. 
So summoning all the optimism that will enable us to traverse the extreme horizons with a business-as-usual-as-possible front, we bring you a host of news and thought-leadership articles this March and a country profile on Malaysia buzzing away.
The most heart-warming are stories of how insurers rush with extra contractual coverage for their policyholders. Some even offer covers to the uncovered or backdating new offers to old customers. Salutation to LIAM for being the first to announce that life insurers in Malaysia will extend gratuitous cover for COVID-19, even before it had a proper name. They make everyone in the industry proud.
But the one poser really is: If pandemics can lead to excessive extraordinary claims on insurers with an extreme mortality risk, could this pose a systemic risk? Is this an actuarial issue? We even explore if regulators can do something pro-active without stifling business.
The response to the Australian bushfires where the insured losses are running up close to A$2bn, shows that insurers are reinventing themselves truly to focus on claims payment and not just investing policyholder funds. 
It is the same with the settlement of claims for the Jakarta floods at the turn of 2020. And the list of kudos go on. 
With the power in tech marrying insurance data, we even bring you an app where you can get claims paid with a click. A reality and not a wishful dream or a nightmare to be made to go away.
The insurance industry’s role is expanding, including in influencing client behaviour to make them more responsive to the climate crisis. Some are even putting pressure on insurers not to offer cover to coal-related corporates. Oil and gas majors seem spared for now over the climate furore.
It is March, soon the crocuses will burst with a myriad of colours and hope. I wish everyone the very best that life and business can offer in these uncertain times. Stay safe and take the necessary precautions. Billy Don’t Be a Hero! 
Sivam Subramaniam
Asia Insurance Review
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