Category Archives: Insurance Industry

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Insurance Is Human

Almost a year ago, I felt impelled to bust the cliché that insurance is boring. In that blog post, I called out the idea that any industry that touches every imaginable peril individuals, families, businesses, and communities face could reasonably be considered dull.

Today – as I dig back into work after spending two days at the Society of Insurance Research (SIR) annual conference in Las Vegas – I feel similarly impelled to take on a different myth: That, because of its focus on statistical analysis and the dollars-and-cents aspects of risk, the insurance industry is out of touch with day-to-day human concerns.

I get it. I’m no one’s quant. Until becoming immersed in this big-numbers industry, I probably shared this perspective. I might even slip back into it from time to time, when the conversations become a bit too actuarial for my all-too-verbal nature.

In his opening remarks, Mike Meyers, SIR president and lead competitive analyst at USAA, used a phrase that the cynic in me thought a bit hokey. He referred to the conference – the first major in-person event for SIR since the pandemic – as a “family reunion.” As the event proceeded, though, it really did feel that way. This was my first in-person SIR event, but it quickly became clear that wasn’t the case for most of the attendees.  The warmth and familiarity among the 200-plus participants was palpable.

Now, this was a gathering of insurance industry researchers, so, of course, there was going to be a lot of “numbers talk” and discussion about “leveraging technology to improve loss experience,” and so forth. But the human dimension was never far from any of the panels or one-on-one conversations. Whether the topic was online life and health insurance shopping; the challenges of researching diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in insurance; or how COVID-19 has affected the risk profiles of small businesses, nothing was abstract or soulless about these conversations.

Two bits that particularly struck me:

  • In a discussion of automobile safety data, a correlation was drawn between driving-safety and fuel-consumption stats. It was just one chart underscoring the fact that safer drivers use less fuel, which, in turn, has a positive impact on the environment. It’s not a big jump from there to the fact that automobile telematics technology – which helps insurers more accurately price coverage and creates financial incentives to drive more safely – also helps reduce emissions. Who doesn’t want to save money AND the planet?
  • If you’ve ever had to replace an entire ceiling (I have!) because of a long, slow, undetected leak upstairs, the presentation on smart plumbing would have excited you as much as it did me. More inspiring, though, was the win-win strategy implemented by the insurer, which provides the easy-to-use technology to the policyholder for free and pays for a plumbing inspection if the diagnostic app flags a possible leak. Future big claim deterred for the insurer, massive headaches prevented for the homeowner!

I may not be an actuary or a data scientist or an economist – or possess any of the extraordinary quantitative skills insurance is known for – but I’m glad the industry marshals and rigorously applies these resources to such homey challenges, at scale.

CISA releases long-awaited plan for national cyber resilience

The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in September released its 2023-2025 Strategic Plan, a response to the increasing vulnerability of U.S. infrastructure to cyberattacks. 

Key Takeaways

  • The plan proposes a framework for defining and managing the federal government’s role in mitigating cyber threats to national security. 
  • CISA aims to foster a cross-agency and “whole-of-nation” approach to risk management and resilience.  
  •  Implementation and outcomes can have implications for cyber insurance markets. 
  •  Two federal engagement requests have been issued to get feedback on creating a regulatory path forward. 

Cyber resilience in the current digital ecosystem requires a new mindset.

CISA’s plan arrives in a rapidly transforming threat landscape in which the cybersecurity mindset is duly shifting from “Are we vulnerable to attack?” to “When a breach happens, how can we spot it, contain the damage, and recover as fast as possible?”  

Businesses across all sectors have seen a rise in the frequency of breaches. Hackers are using sophisticated tactics to expand the reach of ransomware to third or fourth parties, such as supply-chain partners. Estimates of organizations attacked in the last year range from 60 percent to as high as 86 percent, probably because dormant ransomware can remain undetected for a while and many organizations are hesitant to publicize or div incidents. 

Organizations involved in critical infrastructure–such as the military, hospitals, financial institutions, and the supply chains providers–can be enticing targets for bad actors. The 2021 Internet Crime Report from the FBI reveals at least one organization in 14 of 16 critical infrastructure sectors experienced a ransomware attack that year. Data indicates that cyberattacks against US ports and terminals are increasing. 

In response to the rising threats, CISA Director Jen Easterly announced earlier this year, “We live at a time when every government, every business, every person must focus on the threat of ransomware and take action to mitigate the risk of becoming a victim.”  

The “whole of nation” strategy – the agency’s first plan since its creation in 2018 – proposes a unity of effort framework, while drawing upon the CISA Strategic Intent from August 2019, to lay a foundation for the agency’s work ahead and incorporate four core goals:  

  • “Cyber defense against threats to National Critical Functions;  
  • Risk reduction and resilience; 
  • Operational collaboration using a “whole-of-nation” approach; and 
  • Agency unification.” 

Loss ratios for cyber insurance are down, but challenges are still mounting

Cost-effectiveness remains elusive, despite the growing demand for cyber risk coverage. Data from S&P Global indicates that after three years of steady climb, loss ratios decreased from 75% in 2020 to 65% in 2021. However, contributing factors continue to wreak havoc, including increased frequency and severity of cyber-attacks, rising associated breach costs and liabilities, and the lack of historical incident data necessary to assess and price risk. As liability coverage for critical infrastructure sectors poses further challenges to risk mitigation, some insurers opt out of providing coverage to these entities. 

To build a foundation for risk assessment, CISA aims to create a regulatory path for the data collection mandate of the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022 (CIRCIA). The legislation prescribes reporting of major cybersecurity incidents (within 72 hours) and ransomware payments (within 24 hours of payment). However, not every organization in a critical sector will automatically be required to report, and a formal enforcement framework for those expected to comply appears to be yet undefined.  

CISA and FIO solicits feedback on forging a path towards national cyber resilience. 

To foster collaboration between the government and private sectors while facilitating the implementation of CIRCIA, CISA recently issued a Request for Information. The list of reporting parameters up for public commentary includes how organizations may be defined as a “covered entity” (thus required to report incidents) and constraints and best practices around sharing of incident information.  

Another example of the cross-agency and “whole-of-nation” effort outlined in CISA’s plan can be seen in a request for comment recently issued by the Department of the Treasury’s Federal Insurance Office (FIO). This public engagement sprang from a June 2022 GAO report recommendation. The FIO is asking for feedback on “the extent to which risks to critical infrastructure from catastrophic cyber incidents and potential financial exposures warrant a federal insurance response.” The agency welcomes information on gaps in other federal cyber risk initiatives, such as the SEC’s proposed cyber incident reporting rules, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program (TRIP), and the CISA’s cyber incident reporting RFI. 

Triple-I remains committed to advancing Cyber Awareness and supporting conversation about pertinent insurance trends and issues. For further reading, see our Issues Brief and stay tuned to our blog. 

Thousands of Claims Experts Headed to Florida

Rohit Verma, Chief Executive Officer, Crawford & Company

By Rohit Verma, Chief Executive Officer, Crawford & Company

Hurricane Ian inflicted more damage in Florida and the Carolinas than last year’s Hurricane Ida did in Louisiana, in terms of the number of buildings, vehicles, and infrastructure affected. It is the main reason Ian’s insured losses are likely to exceed Ida’s $36 billion.

Ian’s flood-damage claims are expected to exceed claims for Ian-caused wind damage as a percentage of this $40 billion to $60 billion event, even though only about 18 percent of Florida homes carried flood insurance. Crawford & Company anticipates we will be handling a significant percentage of these flood claims. Dealing with both insured and uninsured losses is going to be especially challenging.

As routes are cleared to the communities of Fort Myers and Florida’s southwest coast, Crawford continues to evaluate the impact of the hurricane and to assist with the recovery. In our fastest ever ramp-up, thousands of Crawford’s adjusters are already deployed – our largest deployment in history at such an early stage – and we expect this number to increase in coming weeks.

This adjuster engagement is spread across our U.S. CAT team: managed repair network Contractor Connection, our loss-adjusting business; Crawford’s on-demand inspection service WeGoLook; and edjuster, the technology-driven field and desktop contents claims handling solutions provider Crawford acquired in August 2021.

Crawford Global Technical Services also is engaged with several clients who are still assessing the damage from Hurricane Ian, and we expect the volume of commercial claims to rise as they get reported.  Moreover, Crawford has fully operational support rooms in Gainesville, Tampa, Sunrise and Orlando, Florida.

Access remains challenging during the early stages of the response due to damaged infrastructure, but we have prioritized emergency mitigation services, board-up activities, and tree removal to help mitigate further damage and return homes and commercial buildings to a usable condition as quickly as possible.

As we get further into the restoration process, claims inflation and supply chain issues are likely to impact the industry’s response to Hurricane Ian. There will be intense demand for building materials.

Our immediate focus now is to help those who experienced devastating losses and restore lives, businesses, and communities affected by the hurricane.

Insurers Step Up
to Bring Relief
to Ukraine Refugees

As more people — urgently in need of humanitarian support — flee Ukraine daily, funding continues to grow within the insurance industry.  

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF), a nonprofit dedicated to helping communities and enriching lives, has opened a humanitarian relief fund to help refugees in response to the crisis in Ukraine.

“The insurance industry has a longstanding legacy of philanthropic giving, locally and globally, in times of acute need. Throughout the pandemic – and now, as we raise funds in support of Ukrainian refugees – our industry strives to respond quickly and with impact,” said Hank Watkins, regional director and president of Lloyd’s, Americas and chair of the IICF International Board of Governors. “As an industry founded with the purpose of facilitating progress and responding during times of need, we appreciate the opportunity IICF provides for collaborating on philanthropic and volunteering initiatives, enabling us to continue sharing the very best of our industry with the world.”

Betsy Myatt, vice president and chief program officer, executive director of the IICF’s Northeast Division, noted that the organization “stands with the world and our industry in calling for peace in Ukraine.

With humanitarian efforts underway to address the needs of millions of refugees fleeing the violence – mostly women, children, and the elderly – IICF will join with our industry and many other companies and individuals throughout the world in this support through the IICF: Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief Fund.”

“Proceeds will benefit BeHumanKindness, CARE (Ukrainian Crisis Fund), Red Cross and Save the Children (Children’s Emergency Fund),” she said. “These nonprofit organizations are delivering immediate assistance in the region to the women, children, and families made refugees by the war. “

Insurers and foundations have already contributed millions of dollars toward Ukraine emergency response. The private sector is demonstrating its generosity and solidarity through direct contributions, while also launching creative initiatives to help engage stakeholders, such as employee match funding.

The Allstate Foundation, for example, created a $1 million dedicated Ukrainian Relief Fund that will support the American Red Cross, Razom, UNICEF and World Central Kitchen. Employee donations to the fund will receive a 100 percent match. “Allstate stands with the people of Ukraine and against Russia’s morally reprehensible attacks,” their statement read. “We set up a $1 million Ukrainian Relief fund and are matching employee donations as we support freedom, civility, and compassion for victims of this war.”

Allianz SE announced that it would make available 10 million euros to support humanitarian efforts along with up to 2.5 million euros to match employee donations. RLI Insurance Co. is matching its employees’ donations to the IICF: Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief Fund.

The American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation and companies of American Family Insurance group have made a collective commitment of $50,000 for Ukrainian humanitarian aid.  The Dreams Foundation is donating $10,000 to UNICEF CONNECT, and The General are providing $10,000 each to the International Committee of the Red Cross; Homesite is donating $10,000 to Save the Children; and Main Street America is pledging $10,000 to CARE Ukraine Crisis Fund.

AXA has taken several initiatives to support the humanitarian crisis triggered by the war, with a donation of 6 million euros to NGOs working in Ukraine and the neighboring countries to support civil populations and refugees.  AXA’s global philanthropic employee volunteering initiative, AXA Hearts in Action, initiated multiple local projects that will be supported by a group donation.

The Hartford signals solidarity by lighting their tower in the colors of the Ukraine flag.

The Hartford is matching employee donations to the US Association for UNHR, UNICEF and International Medical Corps at 100 percent. Lloyd’s has donated to the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal to support humanitarian relief efforts in the region. 

Munich Re said it is contributing to alleviate the hardship of the hundreds of thousands of war refugees. “As people are now primarily fleeing the battle zone via the Polish border, Munich Re is currently concentrating its aid on this region.”

Zurich Insurance Group CEO Mario Greco said, “Zurich is strongly committed to helping alleviate suffering in Ukraine. To that end, the Z Zurich Foundation announced a major fundraising effort to mobilize support across our businesses globally for humanitarian relief efforts. The safety and well-being of people across the region are a key concern in these sad times.”

Pandemic Fuels Growth
in Captive Insurance

By Max Dorfman, Research Writer

The coronavirus pandemic and the financial challenges it presents have fueled growth in captive insurance – a form of self-insurance in which one or more entities establish their own insurance company. They also may insure the risks of organizations other than their major owners. 

“Wholly owned” captives are set up by large corporations to finance or administer their risk financing needs. If such a captive insures only the risks of its parent or subsidiaries, it is called a “pure” captive.  Multiple companies may also form a “group captive.”

Captive formations nearly doubled in 2020, according to a recent survey by Marsh. The global insurance broker and risk advisor’s survey of more than 1,300 captives also shows that gross written premiums in this area grew from $54 billion in 2019 to nearly $61 billion in 2020.

 In January 2022, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) board of governors unanimously approved a $175 million fund to create a captive for event cancellation. With insurers unable to cover risks related to the coronavirus pandemic – which falls under the umbrella of communicable diseases policies – because of the potential for unsustainable costs, the captive structure has become a more popular method to protect from losses.

The NCAA formed its captive after the 2020 NCAA basketball tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19, resulting in a $270 million payout – or about 40 percent of what the 1,200 participating schools would have earned for the tournament. In 2021, the NCAA limited the number of fans at the tournament, with the organization’s coverage allowing it to pay the total $613 million to members last year. However, their coverage for 2022 had expired, and communicable disease coverage was now difficult to find.

“When the NCAA looked to renew coverage for the 2022 tournament, a lot of it was going to look similar,” said John Beam, a broker for Willis Towers Watson, “but there is not coverage for communicable disease right now.”

The sports and entertainment industry experienced losses between $6 billion and $10 billion as the coronavirus pandemic raged on, with premiums in event insurance increasing between 25 percent and 50 percent. For many organizations, captive insurance provides a viable alternative for these risks.

Workers’ comp and captives

The coronavirus pandemic has also affected captive owners in the workers’ compensation field. Indeed, the pandemic, alongside the ensuing “Great Resignation,” during which employers have struggled to retain staff, has made many captive owners potentially more willing to pay workers’ comp claims, according to a panel at the recently held Captive Insurance Companies Association international conference.

Amy O’Brien, vice president of third-party administer sales at Gallagher Bassett Services Inc., a claims service provider, said the initial phases of the pandemic saw many insurers denying COVID-19-related claims. Claims asserting exposure at work were difficult to prove, and many captives questioned if the claims were associated with claimants’ work. Additionally, there were possible regulatory changes that these captives were concerned about.

“With medical costs continuing to rise, the most significant dynamic in terms of any company controlling their workers’ compensation costs and claims is ensuring that there are adequate tools in place to help mitigate medical costs for claimants under their workers’ compensation,” said Dustin Partlow, senior vice president at Caitlin Morgan Insurance Services and an expert in captive insurance solutions.

“But with omicron and the Great Resignation, we’re seeing a change where employers are saying, ‘What can I do to get this person back to work sooner?’” Gallagher’s O’Brien said.

Approximately 90,000 claims were processed by Gallagher Bassett that covered a COVID-19 issue, with over 60 percent of cases closed without payment, frequently due to the fact that there were no related medical expenses, O’Brien said. But the 40 percent that did result in a payment averaged $4,000 per case.

“The employee is more valuable now – so they are being treated right. The employer is saying: ‘What can I do to keep this person?’,” O’Brien added.

Women have come a long way to take hold of their finances. How can the insurance industry further their progress?

By Tasha Williams, Senior Research Writer and Max Dorfman, Research Writer

Women contribute more earnings to their households and feel more confident about personal finance than prior generations. However, they still face hurdles to taking charge of planning for their financial future and legacy.  

Findings from a new report, Lack of Knowledge and Confidence Deter Women from Purchasing Life Insurance, produced by insurance nonprofits LIMRA and Life Happens, indicate a substantial disparity in life insurance purchasing between women and men and perceptions surrounding these products. 

Society historically shut women out of their financial affairs. 

Women did not have the right to open a bank account in their name before the 1960s. Before the Equal Opportunity Credit Act of 1974, banks refused women credit simply for being unmarried. In cases where women were married, banks required the co-signature of the husband. Until the SCOTUS Kirchberg vs. Feenstra decision in 1981, state laws gave men unfettered control over their wives’ assets–even if these were obtained without combined marital resources. 

Women remain underserved by the life insurance industry

Over the past five years, the life insurance ownership rate for U.S. women declined 10 points to 47 percent, despite women voicing a greater concern regarding the “financial, physical and mental impact of COVID-19 on them and their families,” according to the report. Indeed, 31 percent of women said they would obtain life insurance coverage in 2021, with 42 percent of men saying they would do the same.  

Some women in the survey said they had anxiety about being dealt with differently by insurance companies and financial professionals and were uneasy about sharing personal information with an agent or company.  

Women still face hurdles to financial planning on equal terms. 

The LIMRA study posits that only 22 percent of women “feel very knowledgeable about life insurance,” compared to 39 percent of men, with 80 percent of women misjudging the cost of life insurance. Researchers found this “undermines women’s confidence in shopping for and purchasing coverage and leads to fear of being taken advantage of, creating a barrier to entry.” 

Data can play a crucial role in understanding how people make decisions, but it needs context. Other research, for example, indicates that societal norms and biases can affect women’s confidence and their propensity to engage in subjects from which they have been historically excluded. Vestiges of the past continue to sustain inequalities: 

When combined with the status of being an equal or primary earner for their household, these hurdles can be amplified as women may consequently have less time to devote to increasing their knowledge and use of financial planning tools, such as insurance. 

Barriers are falling, but there’s opportunity in doing more. 

Throughout history, women have played a significant role in the economy at large and within their families, regardless of whether their contributions were compensated or recognized. Today, lifestyle choices, a divorce, or the death of a partner may position nine out ten women as the sole financial decision-maker in their households. The 2021 Insurance Barometer Study, also conducted by Life Happens and LIMRA, found that 43 percent of women say they need or will need more coverage – a total of 56 million individuals.  

Market opportunity lies in engaging women where they are. Increasing consumer education and accommodating gender-diverse life cycle needs and the associated risks can make this happen. Women represent nearly 60 percent of insurance professionals, but only one in 10 hold leadership positions, roles that drive industry transformation. Pushing ahead with diversity and inclusion goals can lay the groundwork for more innovation and equality.  

Political & Trade Credit Insurers Protect Against Asset, Profit Losses for Businesses in Ukraine

By Michel Leonard, PhD, CBE, vice president, senior economist and data scientist, head of Triple-I’s Economics and Analytics Department

Ukraine is one of the largest insured risks countries for political risk insurance (PRI) and Trade Credit Insurance (TCI). This predates the current situation in Ukraine and started immediately after the country’s accession to sovereignty.  

In Ukraine, PRI and TCI tend to be primarily purchased by foreign companies with cross-border trade or investments in the extraction and manufacturing sectors. New PRI losses in Ukraine due to Russia’s invasion will likely be material but well within the ability of private carriers to perform on their obligations. Indeed, several factors, including carriers’ reserves against future losses in Ukraine and the large role of government and multi-lateral agencies in providing PRI and TCI coverage, have contributed to significantly reducing private carriers’ outstanding exposures to Ukraine and Russian risks. . 

Losses due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would fall under comprehensive Political Violence and, more specifically, under War and Civil War and Strikes, Riots, and Civil Commotion. PRI coverage protects primarily against loss of assets or profits while TCI’s credit default coverage protects primarily against loss of profits due to force majeure. Depending on terms of coverage, PRI and TCI cover against loss of profits due to sanctions.

The majority of private carriers providing PRI insurance are based in the United States, at Lloyd’s, and in Bermuda. 

The main risk associated with Russia’s attack of Ukraine for business in the U.S. and is Russian cyber attacks regardless of whether or not they have operations, investments, or do business in Ukraine. A PRI policy is not necessary to cover Russian cyber attacks against U.S. businesses in the United States.

Insurance & “The New Normal”

Credit for all photos in this post: Don Pollard

By Tasha Williams, Senior Research Writer

At Triple-I’s 2021 Joint Industry Forum (JIF) on Thursday, December 2, CEO Sean Kevelighan challenged attendees to ponder a question: “What do we know about the new normal?”

In his opening presentation and a sit-down with NBC correspondent Contessa Brewer, Kevelighan shared insights on how the emerging post-pandemic reality is transforming how the world manages risk. Panel discussions highlighted critical issues facing the industry, including cyber risk, runaway litigation, and cultivating resilience in a world that will continue to face unprecedented natural and economic threats.

Kevelighan and other experts from across academia, media, and industry described how the pandemic fallout, along with other evolving threats to communities and businesses, demanded innovation at breakneck speed.

“Insurance is at the center” of this change, said Kevelighan. The industry has the opportunity to continue its role as the “leading voice in terms of creating more resilience.”

Peter Miller, president and CEO of The Institutes, took the stage later to speak about how the insurance world can optimally position itself for the benefits and hurdles of the coming year.  

Technology, he said, can be a valuable tool to “provide a much clearer picture of risk.” He opened the door for cooperation with a call to action: “If you have an issue collaboration idea, give me a shout.”

Technology and collaboration as critical ingredients for success in the new paradigm was a recurrent theme throughout the forum.

Dale Porfilio, Triple-I’s chief insurance officer, moderated a panel on cyber risk. This peril continues to grow, driving profits – but also premiums – upward. Panelists estimated $28 billion in cyber premiums by 2026.

Chris Beck, managing director at Milliman Inc., Catherine Mulligan, global head of cyber for Aon, and Paul Miskovich, global business leader for Pango Group, shared their thoughts on how the market could be stabilized, with the government playing a pivotal role as legislative enforcer and data aggregator.

Dr. Michel Léonard, Triple-I vice president and senior economist, shared insights on the economic challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for insurance and risk managers. In 2021, industry growth lagged U.S. growth, with 1.10 percent for insurance versus 5.8 percent for overall U.S. growth.

Leonard believes that recovery, albeit uneven, will continue and growth will be strong – just not enough to make up for the contraction. He said he doesn’t expect overall pre-pandemic levels to return until 2024.

Re-imagining risk management in the new normal also requires finding effective ways to address two elephants in the room: the talent gap and “runaway litigation”.

Frank Tomasello, executive director of the Institutes Griffith Foundation, moderated a panel that explored the impact of litigation trends on claims expenses and, ultimately, policyholder premiums.

A panel featuring representatives from State Farm, Swiss Re, and The Hartford discussed the challenges of recruiting and retaining talent amid the Great Resignation. The rising generations – millennials and Gen Z – have different career goals and expectations for their employers, such as more diverse workplaces.

As Deepi Soni, executive vice president and CIO at The Hartford, put it: “We said oil is gold. We said data is gold. Talent is diamond.”

More JIF 2021 coverage

Insurers Focusing on Retention and Recruitment

As Cybercriminals Act More Like Businesses, Insurers Must Think
More Like Criminals

Runaway Litigation Drives Up Costs, Premiums, JIF Panelists Say

JIF C-Suite Panel: Finding Opportunity Amid Evolving Risks

JIF 2021: Risk & the “New Normal”

Insurance industry decision makers and thought leaders gathered yesterday for the Triple-I Joint Industry Forum (JIF) in New York City to share insights on managing risk in the post-pandemic world.

The in-person, daylong program was conducted in accordance with New York City’s COVID-19 protocols. Topics ranged from climate and cyber risk and the impact of “runaway litigation” on insurer losses and policyholder premiums to the challenges and opportunities presented by “the Great Resignation” for acquiring and nurturing talent in the industry.

The panels featured speakers from across the insurance world, academia, and media. Watch this space next week for panel wrap-ups.

Triple-I Study Sees “Constrained” Growth For Insurers in 2021

From financial economists’ exuberant growth forecasts early in the year to central bankers’ coining of the term “transitory” inflation to pushback against Federal Reserve “tapering”, credible economists have never diverged so widely in their economic outlooks as they have in 2021, says Dr. Michel Léonard, head of Triple-I’s Economics & Analytics department.

Michel Léonard,
V.P., Sr. Economist, Data Scientist, Head of Economics and Analytics

Léonard is author of Triple-I’s fourth-quarter insurance economic outlook report, Soft Landing, Headwinds and Rebound. The quarterly report is available to Triple-I members only at economics.iii.org and is a companion publication to Triple-I’s Insurance Economics Dashboard. Non-members interested in learning about membership can contact Deena Snell.

Triple-I’s analysis translates broad economic growth drivers into business line-specific terms. So, while the insurance industry is expected to show a 3.4 percent growth rate in 2021, Léonard says, it will underperform overall U.S. GDP growth of 5.8 percent because it is “constrained by its ties to industries with growth rates significantly below and inflation rates significantly above the U.S. rates overall.”  

According to the report, concerns about “runaway inflation” subsided in the second half of 2021 as prices for most goods in the consumer supply index (CPI) trended lower and overall inflation peaked at 4 percent. However, for a basket of goods whose prices tend to affect insurance claims and losses – think automobiles and replacement parts, among others – inflation remained above 10 percent. This is due primarily to supply-chain and labor-force disruptions.

As a result, the Triple-I report sees the insurance industry’s combined ratio increasing (underwriting profitability falling) due to low underlying growth and high line-specific inflation. It also sees the industry’s 2021 investment returns outpacing 2020’s, despite headwinds.