News Coronavirus watch19 Nov 2020

Insurance marketplace sees higher pandemic losses than estimated

| 19 Nov 2020

Global insurance losses from the COVID-19 pandemic will be higher this year than the $107bn Lloyd's of London had previously estimated, chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown said.

Speaking at the Reuters Events Future of Insurance USA conference, he said that pandemic-induced losses will be on par with 2017, when three Atlantic hurricanes caused a total of $144bn in losses, the highest amount on record, according to Swiss Re statistics.

Lloyd’s, which in March shut its underwriting room for the first time since World War II due to a UK government lockdown, said Lloyd’s firms were facing claims from 16 different business lines.

“Unlike many events, a pandemic is everywhere at the same time,” he said, adding that the outbreak had extended longer than expected.

The 330-year-old Lloyd’s operates a commercial insurance marketplace, insuring anything from oil rigs to footballers’ legs. It has said it will pay $3.2bn in pandemic-related claims for the first six months of 2020.

Lloyd’s has proposed a ‘Black Swan’ reinsurance scheme to governments globally to ensure better cover during circumstances such as the pandemic and other disturbances to business, but Mr Carnegie-Brown said it was hard to get government attention on the topic so far.

“The challenge for governments, of course, is that they are very short-term focused … (it is) very difficult for them to lift their heads above the parapet and think about the future,” he said.

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