COVID-19 impact to cause historic losses across global insurance

Lloyd’s has revealed the claims impact of COVID-19 is likely to match that of the 9/11 terrorist attacks

Written on 20 May, 2020
Allyssa Hextell

Lloyd’s has revealed that it will pay out in the range of $3bn to $4.3bn to its global customers as a result of the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19, which is on a par with 9/11 in 2001 and the combined impact of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, all of which led to similar pay outs.

These losses could rise further if the current lockdown continues into another quarter. Lloyd’s believes that once the scale and complexity of the social and economic impact of COVID-19 is fully understood, the overall cost to the global insurance non-life industry is likely to be far in excess of those historical events.

John Neal, CEO of Lloyd’s, said, “The global insurance industry is paying out on a very wide range of policies to support businesses and people affected by COVID-19. The Lloyd’s market alone is currently expected to pay claims amounting to some $4.3bn, making it one of the market’s largest pay-outs ever.”

“What makes COVID-19 unique is the not just the devastating continuing human and social impact, but also the economic shock. Taking all those factors together will challenge the industry as never before, but we will keep focused on supporting our customers and continuing to pay claims over the weeks and months ahead.”

To understand the impact of the pandemic on the global non-life insurance industry, Lloyd’s undertook an economic study of the potential losses. This looked at both underwriting losses through the Profit and Loss Account, as well as the reduction in the value of investments which insurance companies hold to fund future claims payments. The economic study took account of the current pay out estimates assuming continued social distancing and lockdown measures through 2020, as well as the forecast drop in GDP globally.

The estimated 2020 underwriting losses covered by the industry as a result of COVID-19 are approximately $107bn, on par with some of the biggest major claims years for the industry, such as when three catastrophic windstorms have struck (2005: hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma; 2017: hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria).

These natural catastrophes were geographically contained events, occurring over the course of hours and days – vastly different in nature to the global, systemic and longer-term impact of COVID-19. In addition, unlike other events, the industry will also experience falls in investment portfolios of an estimated $96bn, bringing the total projected loss to the insurance industry to $203bn.

You can view more details on the COVID-19 resource centre on the NIBA website.