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”.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
So, what better time than now (before it’s too late!) to bust the cliché that insurance is a boring industry.
The cliché might be rooted in the idea that insurance is all about remaining cozily in some imaginary “safety zone”. Or maybe in the fact that the industry’s visual surface tends to be one of dull-looking paperwork full of fine print.
But think about it: the entire industry is rooted in risk!
Automobile accidents and other forms of property damage are only the start of it. There’s liability risk – the risk of being sued: product liability, professional liability, employment practices, directors and officers, errors and omissions, medical malpractice – the list goes on, and insurance professionals have to understand these areas of risk intimately to price policies, set aside appropriate reserves, and pay claims in a timely fashion.
Is climate-related risk keeping you up at night? You’re not alone. Insurers have been working on that one for decades, empowered by sophisticated modeling and analytics capabilities. They aren’t just worrying about extreme weather and climate – they’re partnering with other industries, communities, and governments to do something about it.
And, speaking of sophisticated technology – what about cyber risk? The average cost of a data breach rose year over year in 2021 from $3.86 million to $4.24 million, according to a recent report by IBM and the Ponemon Institute — the highest in the 17 years that this report has been published. These kinds of numbers add up quickly. Unlike flood and fire – perils for which insurers have decades of data to help them accurately measure and price policies – cyber threats are comparatively new and constantly evolving. The presence of malicious intent results in their having more in common with terrorism than with natural catastrophes.
These are just a few of the risks types insurance professionals look in the eye daily, working with a wide range of experts across industries and disciplines to meet them. From the individual and family level to businesses large and small to the global economy, insurers play a critical role as both risk-management partners and financial first responders.
Keep these things in mind next time you catch yourself stifling a yawn at the mention of insurance!
“Insurance is one of the industries I cover for CNBC, so I look forward to discussing the top issues of the day at one of its premier events,” Brewer said. “Given 2021’s extreme weather, high-profile cyberattacks, and economic volatility, insurance has been in the news constantly, so there are plenty of things to talk about.”
The 2021 JIF is being held at the New York Hilton Midtown. The in-person, daylong program, bringing together the most accomplished thinkers and leaders in insurance, will be conducted in accordance with New York City’s Covid-19 protocols.
“CNBC is a recognized world leader in business news and reaches millions of Americans across all of its platforms,” Kevelighan said, adding that he looks forward to “a robust discussion” with Brewer. The agenda also includes panels on insurance economics, insurer talent and recruitment initiatives, and the societal costs of runaway litigation.
By Captain Andrew Kinsey, Senior Marine Risk Consultant at Allianz Global & Corporate Specialty
When an Amazon package arrives at our door, we scarcely give any thought to what it took to get here. It’s likely that your school supplies or article of clothing has traveled a great distance across the ocean by vessel.
International shipping accounts for 90 percent of world trade, and the old saying “there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip” is appropriate. Much can go wrong between the point of origin and destination — and lately Marine insurers are keeping a close eye on developments in our climate, the economy, and public health that could influence the odds of a successful delivery.
The annual Safety and Shipping Review produced by Allianz details trends and developments in shipping losses and safety and is a valuable resource for Marine insurers. Here are some of the major highlights.
Losses at sea
First, let’s look at losses of vessels at sea, where the trend is stable. There were 49 total losses of 100 gross tons or more in 2020, compared to 48 a year earlier. Credit better safety measures, regulation, improved ship design and technology, and advances in risk management. Behind the numbers, however, are a host of volatile factors, such as extreme weather, machinery breakdown, fires, and even piracy. Ship operators can improve fire detection and firefighting on large vessels and ensure that machinery has been inspected and is in good working order. Also, weather impacts can be mitigated by improving forecasting and vessel routing.
Another big concern of insurers is shipping containers lost at sea. Last year, more than 1,000 fell overboard in the first few months due to rough weather and heavier loads. A surge in demand for consumer goods is another factor; in response, containers are being stacked aboard at unprecedented heights, leading to concerns that they aren’t being properly secured. In all, more than 3,000 containers were lost at sea in 2020, compared with a longer-term average of 1,382 per year.
Next is the global pandemic, which has had little effect on Marine insurance claims to date. It’s quite possible that claims could increase as more vessels are put back in service and we see the effects of delayed maintenance. Another big concern is crews confined to their ships in ports due to public health mandates, which delays crew changes and medical treatment. Crew fatigue leads to human error – a major cause of many losses.
These are factors that warrant immediate action by all stakeholders in the supply chain, including cargo owners. One solution is to designate merchant seaman as vital workers so they can receive vaccines and move about freely.
Bigger ships, bigger problems
Size does matter in global shipping. Remember the ship stuck in the Suez Canal for over three months? The Ever Given incident was a vivid illustration how hard it is to free large vessels. When it takes more equipment and more manpower, someone must pay. Not to mention the societal and economic cost of supply-chain disruption. There’s a real possibility we will see bare shelves and lots of “items unavailable” this holiday shopping season.
So if bigger vessels cause bigger problems, why are there so many of them? It’s all about economies of scale and fuel efficiency, and shipping companies really can’t be blamed for trying to comply with increased environmental regulations and attempting to reduce their operating costs. However, large vessels pose problems for the supply chain, often overwhelming ports when so many containers are dropped off at once.
Vessel size also has a direct correlation to the potential size of loss, and this is an issue that keeps Marine insurers up at night. Too often, cargo is misdeclared or improperly declared, which can result in fires. For example, if self-igniting charcoal, chemicals or batteries are not properly stowed, the risk of ignition escalates dramatically. And if the item is improperly declared in the first place the crew doesn’t know what it’s dealing with in an emergency.
Compounding the problem is inadequate fire detection and firefighting capabilities on large vessels; for this reason, the International Union of Marine Insurers (IUMI) is rallying stakeholders to establish more stringent standards.
At first glance, it appears the risks associated with global shipping are a moving target. But more careful scrutiny reveals patterns and trends that, when carefully analyzed, can lead to improved loss mitigation, thus reducing the “slips” that can occur in transit.
Captain Andrew Kinsey is Senior Marine Risk Consultant at Allianz Global & Corporate Specialty and chairs the technical services committee of the American Institute of Marine Underwriters, which is a Triple-I Associate Member.
By Loretta Worters, Vice President, Media Relations, Triple-I
Property/casualty insurers are projected to have less-than-stellar underwriting profits in 2021, according to a forecast released today by the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) and risk-management firm Milliman.
The forecast – presented in a members-only webinar,“Triple-I /Milliman Underwriting Projections: A Forward View,” moderated by Triple-I CEO Sean Kevelighan – projects a 2021 combined ratio of 99.6. Combined ratio is the percentage of each premium dollar an insurer spends on claims and expenses.
The industry ended 2020 profitably, with a combined ratio of 98.7. Combined ratios for 2022 and 2023 are projected to be 98.9 and 99.3, respectively.
Losses from atypical weather events in the first quarter – particularly, the Texas freeze – got the year off to a rough start, explained Dave Moore of Moore Actuarial Consulting.
Natural catastrophe losses at a decade high
“Insured losses from natural disasters worldwide hit a 10-year high of $42 billion in the first half of 2021, with the biggest loss related to extreme cold in the United States in February,” Moore said, citing Aon statistics. “Overall, catastrophe loss estimates are in the $15 billion to $20 billion range for the Texas freeze event, and the rest of the year doesn’t look promising for CAT losses overall. Extreme weather this spring brought multi-billion-dollar thunderstorm and hail losses, and the extreme drought in the West has helped fuel another severe wildfire season.”
Jason B. Kurtz, FCAS, MAAA, a principal and consulting actuary at Milliman – an independent risk-management, benefits, and technology firm – said the current hard insurance market will persist, particularly in lines that have been hit hard by social inflation. A hard market is defined as a period of increasing premiums and decreasing insurance capacity.
Premium growth for the industry is projected to hit 7 percent in 2021. Growth is expected to slow in 2022 and 2023 but will remain above 5 percent both years.
“Lines like commercial auto, commercial multiperil, and general liability will still struggle to get their combined ratios under 100,” he said. “With ransomware attacks on the rise and tightening capacity, cyber bears watching, and homeowners insurers will have another tough year in 2021, but we predict improvement for 2022 and 2023.”
Michel Léonard, PhD, CBE, vice president, senior economist, and head of Triple-I’s Economics and Analytics Department, took a preliminary look at property/casualty industry results for 2021 and trends for the rest of the year. He noted that insurance outperformed the overall economy in 2019 and 2020 but was not likely to do as well in 2021.
“Right now, economists seem to be shifting growth from 2022 to 2021. That’s not good for insurance because of our industry’s business cycles. Shifting this growth means we are not expected to outperform the wider economy in 2021– but we are in 2022. What’s best for our industry is growth increasing, not decreasing, from 2021 to 2022.”
Regarding wildfire season, Roy Wright, president and CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), noted that as the climate changes and the population expands into the wildland urban interface, wildfires are intersecting suburban life. Wildfire losses continue to mount year after year and make clear the need for communities to adapt, he said.
Commercial auto insurance has been hit harder by litigation trends than any other line of business, according to David Corum, vice president at the Insurance Research Council (IRC).
“We estimate broadly that social inflation increased commercial auto liability claims by more than $8 billion between 2010 and 2019,” Corum said. “We are also seeing evidence that social inflation is becoming a factor in personal auto claims.” He noted that a soon-to-be-released paper by the Triple-I, Moore Actuarial Consulting, and the Casualty Actuarial Society will address this topic more broadly.
Pat Sullivan, senior editor and conference co-chair at Risk Information Inc., explained that commercial auto insurers spent the last few years trying to price themselves into profitability with little success.
Sullivan noted that COVID-19 wasn’t great for growth: “Commercial auto direct written premiums rose about one percent in 2020, compared to 12 percent in 2019, 13 percent in 2018, and 9 percent in 2017. Commercial auto’s underlying claims issues haven’t gone away.”
COVID-19 and business interruption
The past 15 months have been extraordinary from a legal perspective on COVID-19 business interruption claims, according to Michael Menapace, partner, Wiggin and Dana LLP and Triple-I Non-Resident Scholar.
“To date, 80 percent of the judicial decisions have dismissed policyholders’ claims without regard to whether the presence of SARS-CoV-2 or the government shutdown orders were the cause of their losses, Menapace said. That dismissal rate goes up to 95 percent when the policies also include a virus exclusion.”
“There have been some outlier business interruption decisions in favor of policyholders and some less favorable jurisdictions for insurers that we are watching,” he said. “Insurers must also remain vigilant by pushing back against proposals by state legislatures or executive agencies that would change the terms of insurance contracts to provide coverage where none was intended and for which no premium was paid.”
Looking forward, Menapace said the trend of dismissals in the trial courts should continue.
“There has been only one appellate court decision concerning business interruption coverage,” he said. “But, over the next 12-18 months, the focus will start shifting to state and federal appellate courts, which will have the final say on many of these issues.”
Atlantic hurricane season
Dr Phil Klotzbach, research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University and Triple-I Non-Resident Scholar, gave his updated projections for the 2021 hurricane season.
Klotzbach noted that 2021 is expected to have an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, with 18 named storms, eight of which will become hurricanes. Of those eight, four will likely become major hurricanes (category 3, 4, or 5 with winds of a 111 mph or greater). That compares with the long-term average of about 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
By Scott Holeman, Media Relations Director, Triple-I
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara made state history by becoming the first openly gay official elected to statewide office. During our Declarations of Pride series, he shared his unique journey with Triple-I, by discussing his entry into politics, views on how the insurance industry is supporting the LGBTQ+ community and what Pride Month means to him.
Lara says important steps are being made by the insurance industry to advance LGBTQ+ rights.
Lara says #Pridemonth is an important time to honor LGBTQ+ civil rights pioneers, but also for understanding obligations that remain in the fight for equality.
By Sean Kevelighan, CEO, Insurance Information Institute
Congress passed legislation this week to establish June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, and the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) applauds the bipartisan action which made it happen. President Joseph Biden is expected to sign the measure into law.
The date is a significant one in U.S. history because June 19, 1865, symbolically marked the end of slavery in the U.S.
The Triple-I represents an industry built on a foundation of trust and fairness, and there can be no tolerance for racial discrimination in any form.
Insurers take pride in keeping their promises and being there for their customers in moments of need.
Today and every day, insurers want to foster unity and support the communities they serve while also contributing to real, positive change.
The decision to make Junteenth a federal holiday is in keeping with that tradition.
By Scott Holeman, Media Relations Director, Triple-I
David Glawe, President and CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, has been fighting crime for nearly 30 years. His extensive background in national security, law enforcement and management provided distinguished credentials to lead NICB’s efforts in combatting insurance fraud and theft. Before taking on this position, Glawe served as Under Secretary of Intelligence for Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, and was the highest ranking, openly gay official in the U.S. Government.
During our Declarations of Pride series, Glawe shares his personal life journey, which includes progress in LGBTQ+ issues and examples of why there’s ongoing need for meaningful dialogue about equality with friends, family and allies.
Glawe encourages asking questions for meaningful dialogue with LGBTQ+ friends and family.
Glawe says speaking OUT is important for LGBTQ+ people who may be struggling for acceptance.