Category Archives: Insurance Industry

This is the default category

Understanding FEMA and other flood maps

On June 29 the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research firm, released an analysis of flood risk which shows that nearly 6 million of the nation’s properties are at more substantial risk of flooding than indicated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) maps.

FEMA replied with a statement that its maps are intended for floodplain management and decisions about emergency responses and that its flood insurance risk maps do not conflict with First Street’s maps since the two complement one another by showing different types of risk.

To help explain how flood maps work, Dr. Michel Léonard, Vice President & Senior Economist, Triple-I, wrote the following post.

Flood maps are used to identify and communicate a property’s exposure to flood. 

Flood maps rank exposure from lowest to highest by categorizing an area into a set of standardized flood zones, with each zone assigned its own flood exposure level. Flood exposure is normally expressed as a percentage representing flood frequency and/or severity over a specific number of years. This approach is similar to maps for other natural perils. 

The most commonly used flood map is FEMA’s nationwide flood map. There are also several high-quality flood maps from academia, non-profits and businesses, each providing added perspectives. These maps aren’t meant to be better than one another but rather, together, to provide a fuller understanding of the risks caused by floods to homeowners, businesses, and communities.

First Street’s flood map is an example of such maps: scientific, credible, and insightful in its contribution to the discussion about current and changing flood exposure. Its main insight, that flood risk and exposure may be higher than currently implied by FEMA’s or other maps, is not a controversial statement but rather adds to the growing consensus across flood experts that flood risk is increasing in frequency and severity nationwide as a result of extreme weather events. FEMA recommends reviewing its own flood map every year due to exposure changing over time. 

The main takeaway from flood maps for consumers and businesses is learning about their own relative exposure vis-à-vis other locations. Homeowners and businesses should use flood maps to better understand their current exposure and determine, for example, whether their property insurance is adequate or considering preemptive risk mitigation. 

Homeowners and businesses thinking about moving should look at these maps before deciding about where to go. Will they be more or less exposed to flood?  How will the new location’s flood exposure impact their mortgage, their insurance costs?

That said, while all flood maps provide insight into flood exposure, FEMA’s flood map remains different from others. As a government provided flood map, it is a countrywide benchmark for flood risk identification and quantification. It is used by different levels of government, regulators, first responders and insurance companies. For example, homeowners and businesses should know that a property’s location within a specific FEMA flood map zone is the sole benchmark for mortgage lenders requiring flood insurance in order to get a mortgage. 

For more about FEMA’s flood map see: www.floodsmart.gov/flood-map-zone/about

California Reports $1.2 Billion in Premium Refunds in Response to COVID-19

Insurers refunded $1.2 billion to California policyholders as of June 26, according to actuarial firm Perr & Knight.

The California Department of Insurance (CDI) ordered the refunds to drivers and businesses in the state affected by the COVID-19 emergency. The companies were required to file reports outlining the details of their response to COVID-19.

CDI recently made these reports public, and Perr & Knight,  which specializes in rate filings, published an analysis. Here are some key takeaways:

  • California’s reports have information on the number and percentage of policyholders affected. If the state is a guide, EVERY person with a personal auto insurance policy got a break on premiums, as well as millions of other policyholders, according to James Lynch, Triple-I’s chief actuary.
  • Private auto insurance customers received the largest share of the refunds – a little over $1 billion. Commercial auto customers received about $33 million in refunds, and workers compensation customers received $82.7 million.
  • Commercial multi-peril clients received $11.2 million, commercial liability $7.2 million and medical malpractice $10.3 million.

The reports also have data on payment deferrals (grace periods), which is something that has been underrecognized, in part because it was so hard to quantify.

Insurance Careers Corner: Q&A with Mary Jo Hudson, Squire Patton Boggs

Triple-I’s “Insurance Careers Corner” series was created to highlight trailblazers in the insurance industry and to spread awareness on the career opportunities within the industry.

This month Kris Maccini, director, social media, Triple-I, interviewed Mary Jo Hudson, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs who provided insights about her career trajectory, LGBTQ+ support in the workplace, and implications for LGBTQ+ professionals following the recent Supreme Court ruling that the Civil Rights Act protects gay and transgender Americans from workplace discrimination.

Name: Mary Jo Hudson

Current Role: Partner, Squire Patton Boggs

Years at Firm: 3 years

Tell me about your current role and work at the law firm Squire Patton Boggs

I’ve been at Squire just over three years, and I lead the U.S. Regulatory practice as part of our Global Financial Services Practice Group. Our group includes several former senior insurance regulators [including myself] and several former insurance company general counsel and experienced litigators. We represent insurance companies in transactional market product issues, provide strategic advice on regulatory matters, and work with trade associations and professional associations on top regulatory issues. I particularly enjoy our thought leadership efforts – writing content as litigation experts on insurance regulations.

Prior to your time at Squire Patton Boggs, you served at the Ohio Dept of Insurance. What was your role there and what attracted you to the regulatory side of the industry?

I did two ‘tours of duty’ at the Ohio Department of Insurance. During my first ‘tour of duty,’ I was a staff attorney and then a general counsel of the Ohio Liquidation Office. We had several liquidation estates, and I was the only attorney in that office. Eventually, I went back to private practice and got involved in local politics – returning for my second “tour” as the Director and a member of the Governor’s cabinet. I’ve been out of the Department of Insurance for about 10 years now.

When I was Insurance Director – it was just prior to the Affordable Care Act – my governor had all his administration’s health reform efforts based at the Insurance Department. I was an officer of the Insurance Compact all four years of my service, and I also worked actively on numerous National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) committees and task forces, including serving on the Executive Committee and EX-1.

It was a great learning experience. Insurance regulation brings together a mix of legal and public policy together with complex financial services issues. I find the multi-jurisdictional structure to be unique and fascinating.

We’re in a time where it’s still challenging for women to make ‘Partner’ at leading firms. What has led to your success and what advice can you give to other women looking to achieve similar goals?

I love what I do. I work with great clients and try to deliver the best services that I can. Law practice – especially at a larger firm – is always a challenge, and I try to learn and grow. When I talk to younger lawyers, I tell them that when doors seem to close there are a lot of windows that open. Don’t try to force things that aren’t meant for you – continue to work hard and watch for those opportunities to come as a result of that work.

It’s still a challenging profession and industry to be a woman – particularly the higher up that you go. I’ve been an open member of the LGBTQ+ community for 30 years.  I’ve found that it’s sometimes easier to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community than it is being a woman. The gender issues are somehow larger.

I remember as a young lawyer a partner once told me ‘Don’t go into regulatory work. That’s women’s work and it’s not valued.’ Regulatory is where I excel – but that work is not always valued – unless you remind colleagues about its foundational value with respect to transactions and litigation. You learn to pick your battles wisely and push where it’s needed.

Your firm has a commitment to diversity & inclusion – recognized in 2019 as one of the ‘Best law Firms for Women’ and in 2017 as a ‘Top Firm in Diversity’. Can you talk about some of the programs Squire Patton Boggs has in place to create opportunities and foster inclusion for LGBTQ+, women, and minorities?

There is a dedication at the top on diversity & inclusion, and it permeates throughout the office. The firm has worked hard to elevate women into leadership roles. Squire continues to do the work to be self-reflective and improve on our efforts.

Efforts are also focused on connections and relationships. These relationships generate business development. Our LGBTQ+ programs allow for connections with colleagues at other offices, which has led to new work for us all.

Squire has a 100% rating for the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. It’s important and a good leadership statement – involving employment policies, benefits, and a concerted effort on hiring a diverse mix of candidates. I’ve been involved in the hiring process to ensure that our next generation of lawyers is even more diverse.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, what challenges have you faced throughout your career?

I’ve always found that I had to work hard to get to advance, but I’ve always tried to be my authentic self. I was never good at being closeted. I’ve been out since the early 90s. I did find job mobility difficult, and it was tough to move from state to private practice. I had to be patient. I took a winding route professionally, instead of a direct route, combining public service, social justice service and private practice. During that time, I was very active nationally in the LGBTQ+ movement. I served on a several boards and in leadership for the Human Rights Campaign national board. This work helped me develop personally and professionally, including some great board experience.

In public service and local board service, I had a lot of what I called ‘Lady Godiva moments’ where I was often the only openly LGBTQ+ person in the room. I remember going to community events as an elected official and people [in the room] had never met anyone who was gay. I spent time listening and learning about what was going on in their neighborhoods and lives. I developed a reputation for being hard-working, and it was all about being a good public official and a good human being – less about sexual orientation.

Has recent support [for LGBTQ+] in the financial services, legal, and insurance industries eased any challenges for the community?

I do see a lot more support. Some businesses struggle with how to translate support that into the workplace. It’s an interesting perspective to work with different companies. Some do a good job at ‘getting’ diversity and inclusion. We’re still in a very conservative industry. Some companies don’t have any diversity at all. I see it growing, but there’s a gap between large companies and companies based in metropolitan areas and some companies that are smaller or mid-range. It may be a resource limitation or location. These companies need to make a concerted effort to build diversity.

The insurance industry needs to take the lead on making a multi-year commitment to getting diversity right, or they won’t be in touch with the next generation of customers.

What are your thoughts on the landmark Supreme Court decision protecting LGBTQ+ professionals from job discrimination? What do you think are the broader implications for this ruling and how it will impact the workplace?

I did not think I would see a ruling like Bostock in my lifetime. Over the years, I would read court decisions and employment discrimination cases on LGBTQ+ and the logic was so twisted against the plaintiffs. I didn’t know how we would get past that intolerance. The Bostock decision is a signal that the social justice and education work of the last 30+ years has made a difference – but we’re not done. It is a turning point to make changes for workplace and public policies on sexual orientation and gender identity.

It’s a groundbreaking decision around gender identity discrimination, which has not been discussed nearly as much as discrimination based on sexual orientation. The issues of the trans community [historically] have been treated separately. It took education and a couple of generations to help define and integrate the movements. I think it’s terrific that of the cases in Bostock, the claims of discrimination based on gender identity and the claims based on the sexual orientation discrimination were so both addressed rather than split.

Where we will still have challenges – the next generation is more gender fluid. The decision  breaks down some barriers, but now we’ll need to address those issues around gender fluidity as well. Ultimately, we’ll have to work on how the individuals of our next generation can be their best authentic selves to work and to the community.

The Insurance Information Institute and The Institutes Announce Plan to Affiliate

The Two Organizations to Unify Their Voices and Modernize Their Capabilities

The Insurance Information Institute’s (Triple-I) Board of Directors approved plans this month to have the Triple-I enter into an affiliation with The Institutes, and The Institutes’ Board agreed to the affiliation June 24. The terms will be finalized next month.

Peter Miller

“With 60 years of quality work serving as the trusted voice of objective insurance information, the Insurance Information Institute’s brand is invaluable to us. Combining their assets with ours will allow both organizations to turn the page on the next chapter of their operations and sets both of us up for continued long-term success,” said Peter Miller, CPCU, president and CEO of The Institutes, a global provider of risk management and insurance education and research. “Together, we will be better empowered to serve those interested in risk management and insurance.

Sean Kevelighan

“This forward-looking decision is the culmination of several years of strategic dialogue both internally at the Triple-I and with The Institutes. Taking this next step will further unify our collective efforts when it is needed most, grant both the Triple-I and The Institutes greater access to a deeper bench of resources and expertise, and improve value for Triple-I’s member companies across the country,” said Sean Kevelighan, CEO, Triple-I, a trusted source of unique, data-driven insights on insurance.

The affiliation, which will bring the Triple-I brand into the Malvern, Pennsylvania-based The Institutes structure, reflects the changing landscape of the broader industry and the economy. Moreover, it will unify two trusted data-driven organizations and continues The Institutes’ strategy in recent years to leverage the synergies of like-minded organizations.

For Triple-I, this evolution is the next step in the organization’s pursuit of a modern, transparent, and team-oriented structure that reflects the diversity and breadth of their membership.

Additional details will be announced publicly as the deal is finalized in July.

Pandemic Insurance Was Available. Why Didn’t Businesses Purchase It?

By James Ballot, Senior Advisor, Strategic Communications, Triple-I

Business interruption policies generally exclude losses from closures due to virus or bacteria. Yet insurance against losses due to a pandemic like COVID-19 did in fact exist well before the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the U.S. A recent Wired article, We Can Protect the Economy From Pandemics. Why Didn’t We? gives an in-depth look at the origins and development of pandemic insurance–and why it was ignored by business owners and risk managers who potentially stood to gain the most (or lose the least) from having it.

On the surface, the article’s author recounts the sort of innovation and ingenuity that most of us familiar with insurance can easily recognize. But just beneath is a fascinating glimpse at how insurers, virologists and epidemiologists, and data scientists devised ways to understand and rationalize the economics of outbreaks—and at the amazing race to quantify and price pandemic risks to bring an insurance product to market.

“Reinsurance is sometimes called the business of a hundred professions … you don’t just have mathematicians and lawyers and businessmen. You have former mining engineers. You have former captains who steered ships across the ocean. You have art experts who are specialized in art insurance. It is, if you like, always close to life.”

–from, We Can Protect the Economy From Pandemics. Why Didn’t We?

Like many significant advances, pandemic insurance started from a conventional, even humble proposition. In 2011, with the 2008 Ebola outbreak still fresh in the collective memory, Gunther Kraut, then a young quantitative analyst at Munich Re, studied ways for his firm to hedge its life insurance portfolio against a “one-in-500-year return period.”

Kraut later partnered with Nathan Wolfe, a globetrotting rock-star virologist, and Nita Madhav, an epidemiologist who’d spent 10 years modeling catastrophes for the insurance industry, to create what was essentially a new consciousness about pandemic risk—and tools to help mitigate potentially immense losses.

Without trifling, this is a gripping saga involving global NGOs, multinational corporate giants, visionary business derring-do, and catastrophic failures of the imagination. But from its pages, we get a fuller understanding of insurance as a pervasive force that, in spite of its sophistication, ubiquity and capacity for good, nevertheless sometimes bows to the principles of behavioral economics.  

Insurers respond to COVID-19 (6/15/2020)

Industrywide, philanthropic giving in response to the COVID-19 crisis continues to increase. Using information collected by Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF), the Insurance Information Institute upgraded its earlier estimate to $280 million donated through early June by U.S. insurers and their charitable foundations in response to the pandemic. In addition, international insurers and their foundations have donated more than $150 million.

On June 15 the IICF announced a $500,000 contribution from Lloyd’s to its Children’s Relief Fund. This donation will help deliver tens of thousands of meals to vulnerable children struggling with food insecurity and help to address educational disruption, family homelessness and other risks exacerbated by the pandemic. This gift from Lloyd’s brings the IICF’s Children’s Relief pandemic campaign total to $1.1 million raised to date.

 “As the industry’s leading charitable giving platform and convenor of brokers, insurers and service providers, the IICF’s value proposition rings more clearly now than ever,” said Hank Watkins, Regional Director and President, Americas at Lloyd’s, and former Chair of the IICF Northeast Division Board of Directors. “Lloyd’s is proud to join hands with our industry colleagues in supporting the IICF’s mission and efforts to meet the needs of those in our communities left vulnerable by the pandemic crisis.”

IICF reports seeing widespread and united industry support for its crisis relief campaign, including nearly 600 individual contributors. IICF anticipates providing one million meals throughout this campaign to children and their families in need.

To learn more about the IICF Children’s Relief Fund or donate, please visit here.

World’s Insurance Markets Hit Hard by COVID-19: Triple-I

The world’s 10 largest insurance markets are cumulatively expected to see gross domestic product (GDP) decrease by 4.9 percent in 2020 compared to 2019 because of COVID-19, according to a new Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) report.

“Given the scope of the downturn so far in China, North America, and Western Europe, the virus’s continuing expansion in the Southern Hemisphere, and the possibility of further rebounds in the former this fall and winter, the likelihood of a V-Shaped recovery is extremely low,” writes Dr. Michel Léonard, Vice President & Senior Economist, Triple-I, in the Global Macro and Insurance Outlook: Q2 2020. “The most likely outcome for the rest of 2020 is a slow recovery, with multiple false starts and step backs, that does not stabilize until well into 2021.”

Latest report shows surprising job gains for the insurance industry

By Dr. Steven Weisbart, Chief Economist, Insurance Information Institute

The employment report for May 2020, just released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, has some surprising numbers.­ I’m not referring to the national employment or unemployment numbers (although they are surprising) but to the employment numbers for April for the insurance industry.

In April, you might remember, the numbers for the national economy were dreadful. The unemployment percentage shot up to 14.7 percent, and the number of people unemployed spiked to 20.7 million. The comparable numbers for subsets like the property/casualty (P/C) insurance industry aren’t released until a month later, but they became available today.

In April, P/C insurance carriers gained 3,000 jobs and life/annuity carriers gained 5,600 jobs! In April, health (mainly medical expense) carriers lost 1,900 jobs, and insurance brokerage and agencies lost 15,200 jobs. I suspect that the agent/brokerage losses were at small businesses that, in May, will completely reverse these losses as a result of the Paycheck Protection Program.

It looks like the insurance industry is doing its part to keep the economy running.

Insurers respond to COVID-19 (6/05/2020)

With a number of carriers increasing the credit they are giving on their policies, U.S. auto insurers will return over $14 billion to their customers nationwide in response to reduced driving during the pandemic, according to an Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) estimate.

In May, Triple-I estimated that insurers would return more than $10 billion. Since then a number of carriers have disbursed additional funds, including AAA insurers, Allstate, American Family, Farmers, State Farm, MAPFRE, Travelers and USAA.

Auto insurers are giving refunds to their customers as people are driving less due to coronavirus shut-downs. No action is required by customers to receive credit in most cases, but to learn more, contact your auto insurer.

2020 Atlantic hurricane season will be well above average, according to updated Colorado State forecast

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season activity is projected to be “well above average,” according to Triple-I non-resident scholar Dr. Phil Klotzbach.

Dr. Klotzbach, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University (CSU), and his team issued an updated forecast on June 4. They project the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will have 19 named storms (including the storms that already formed), 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes.

Probabilities for at least one major (category 3-4-5) hurricane landfall on each of the following coastal areas are:

1) Entire continental U.S. coastline – 70 percent (average for last century is 52 percent)

2) U.S. East Coast, including Peninsula Florida – 46 percent (average for last century is 31 percent)

3) Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville – 45 percent (average for last century is 30 percent)

The probability for at least one major hurricane tracking into the Caribbean (10-20°n, 88-60°w) is 59 percent (average for last century is 42 percent).

An early forecast had predicted eight hurricanes.  A typical year has 12 named storms and six hurricanes — three of them major. Major hurricanes are defined as Category 3, 4, and 5 storms, where wind speeds reach at least 111 miles per hour.

The active 2020 season is partly due to a warmer than normal eastern Atlantic, which is typically associated with more active Atlantic hurricane seasons. Tropical Storms Arthur, Bertha and Cristobal have already formed in the Atlantic as of June 2nd.

“It is important to recognize that these forecasts are not perfect,” said Klotzbach. And even when correct “we can’t say when or where these storms are going to track or if a significant hurricane is going to make landfall.”

“The general public needs to remember that it only takes one storm to make this an active season for you. So now is the time to get the hurricane preparedness kit together so that you will be ready when and if storms threaten,” he concluded.

The full forecast is available here.

Preparedness tips*

  • Take steps to mitigate risks for your home and business – make simple repairs/clean-up of property.
  • Gather emergency supplies (have a minimum seven days of non-perishable food, one gallon of drinking water per person per day, and medications for all family members).
  • Take an inventory of your personal property – photos of possessions will make it much easier to file an insurance claim after the storm.
  • Review your homeowners, auto and business insurance coverage with your insurance professional to ensure you have appropriate coverage in case of loss.
  • If you don’t already have it, ask your insurance professional about adding flood coverage to your home or business policy. Flood damage is excluded under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies and ninety percent of natural disasters involve flooding. You don’t need to live in a flood zone to incur flood damage from a storm.
  • Prepare evacuation routes well ahead of time. Make sure you know how to quickly and safely escape your area if emergency management officials issue evacuation orders.
  • Don’t forget about your pets. When evacuating, many residents leave their pets behind because they have no place to take them. Make sure your local shelters will accept pets and gather information on hotels and motels that allow pets in guest rooms.

*Preparedness tips courtesy of National Hurricane Conference.

Triple-I has hurricane facts and statistics here.