Webinar: the Covid 19 crisis on the insurance industry

14 May 2020 — Daniela GHETU
The Economic Chamber of Macedonia hosted today a live webinar, where leading experts provided their views on the financial and strategic implications for the insurance industries. Read the main statements.

Anna Maria D'Hulster - Member of the Supervisory Board at UNIQA Insurance Group and Member of the Board of Directors at Athora Holdings

  • The Covid crisis puts a significant reputational risk on the industry;
  • The crisis will be a major driver for the insurance industry digitalization, no doubt;
  • A major effort will be needed on the insurers' side to understand the changes in the customers' behavior, to better adapt their products to the new risks and challenged purchasing power of the customers in many areas;
  • The present pandemic situation is different from the scenarios that we have considered until now in assessing the insurers' financial stability, because of its global character;
  • the Covid crisis also showed us that we were not really prepared for an event of such a global magnitude and in many cases, we have failed clearly explaining to customers the coverage they have, which lead to customers feeling deceived in their expectations;

Hrvoje Paukovic - Managing Director of the Insurance Association of Croatia

  • the crisis will be more challenging for the less developed markets in the CEE; we will see challenging times in the months to come, as long as the economies of our countries are going down;
  • insurers that have already invested in extended digital capabilities are coping better with the distribution challenges in this period;
  • the pandemic risk is a systemic one, therefore the solution to cover it cannot come from the insurance industry alone;

Juan Ramon Pla - Chairman of European Federation of Insurance Intermediaries

  • intermediaries are very linked with the insurers, so they will experience the same hardnesses;
  • for the time being all intermediaries are able to provide more or less a "normal" level of service; the big question is for long they will able to do that if the economic situation doesn't improve;
  • the reputational risk is real and providing very clear explanations is the only tool that we have to make clients understand that their policies can only cover the risks they were intended to cover from the very beginning;
  • sales over the internet will increase, no doubt, but they cannot replace the traditional role of the intermediaries, especially on the counselling side;
  • we will probably see a trend of aggregation in the intermediation markets, not necessary through M&As, but also through pooling forces in different kinds of partnerships, associations etc.

Prof. Jean Kwon, St. John University, Maurice R. Greenberg School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science, NY, USA

  • The Covid crisis will impact all business lines. As the US current situation shoes, in life, higher death rates require higher reserves; in health there is a rise in medical claims; in property, rise of remote work is increasing the off-premises risk; in addition, the BI issue; D&O risk is also increasing;
  • The experience we had with the BI claims showed that we need a dedicated insurance solution, probably with the state participation;
  • To insure the pandemic risk, the industry may look beyond the traditional solutions and maybe search this solution in the parametric insurance area, or ILS etc.

Gorazd Cibej - Director of the Insurance Supervision Agency of Slovenia

  • In Slovenia, we have increased the frequency of the communications between the supervisory agency and the market players, just to timely identify any kind of challenging situation that may threaten the market stability;
  • The recommendation to temporary suspend the dividend distribution and stop buy-backs helps to preserve the insurers' solvability position, but it has to be considered carefully because it can trigger a snowball effect in a larger economic sense;
  • The virus outbreak that we are experiencing can be seen as a new risk, given its magnitude and global impact; the insurance industry will for sure find solution to cover some aspects of this new risk, but a solution to really protect consumers has to be further analyzed and possibly designed for future similar situations;
    Manuela Zweimueller, IAIS
  • Insurers are the biggest investors globally and, as such, the industry is expected to have a significant contribution to the economic recovery; this is why is very important that the industry remains stable

The webinar was chaired by Prof. Karel Van Hulle - KU Leuven and Goethe University Frankfurt. The introductory remarks were provided by Prof. Klime Poposki, University of St. Kliment Ohridski, insurance department, Ohrid and Member of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia's Assembly.

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