Category Archives: Insurers and the Economy
Triple-I CEO Among Panelists Discussing Business Interruption Insurance Legislation
Triple-I CEO Sean Kevelighan today joined legislators and legal experts to discuss proposed measures that could retroactively rewrite business interruption insurance policies.
“The insurance industry is applying forward-thinking solutions to take care of its customers, communities, and employees during the COVID-19 crisis,” Kevelighan said, citing more than $10 billion so far returned to customers through premium relief; $200 million in charitable donations; and insurers pledging not to lay off employees during the crisis and implementing innovative solutions to conduct daily operations while respecting social distancing. “We’re deeply engaged in mitigating the economic impact of this pandemic.”
But the industry can only do these things – while keeping its promises to policyholders and preparing for impending catastrophes – if policyholder surplus isn’t eliminated, as it could be if some of the proposed legislative “solutions” were enacted.
Legislation has been discussed or introduced in Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina that would retroactively enact business interruption coverage into existing policies despite an absence of the physical damage required in property policies and/or express exclusions for communicable diseases in those policies.
Kevelighan explained how policyholder surplus provides a cushion that enables insurers to meet their obligations, even when large, unexpected catastrophes occur. He showed how retroactively rewriting insurance contracts could make it impossible for insurers to play their critical role as “financial first responders.”
The scenarios he discussed could cost the industry $150 billion and $380 billion per month – “quickly eliminating the surplus it has taken the industry centuries to accumulate.”
And they would do this in the midst of a tornado season that is shaping up to be the deadliest in eight years and as a “more active than normal” hurricane season approaches.
Kevelighan made his remarks during a webinar sponsored by the National Council of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) and the Rutgers Center for Risk and Responsibility at Rutgers Law School. Other panelists included NCOIL President and Indiana Rep. Matt Lehman; New Jersey Assemblyman Lou Greenwald; and Jay Feinman and Adam Scales, Professors of Law at Rutgers Law School and Co-Directors of the Rutgers Center for Risk and Responsibility.
The panelists all expressed support for the creation of a COVID-19 Business Interruption and Cancellation Claims Fund, similar to the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund enacted by Congress in 2001, for businesses suffering from costs related to the interruption of their businesses, as well as the many associations that have had to cancel events. Funded by the federal government and operated by a special federal administrator, it would facilitate distribution of federal funds and liquidity to impacted businesses during this time of incalculable business interruption.
Click here to view the presentation.
CORONAVIRUS WRAP-UP: PROPERTY AND CASUALTY (4/22/2020)
CORONAVIRUS WRAP-UP: Data and Visualizations (4/20/2020)
The coronavirus crisis continues to generate data that can be valuable for understanding and decision making. Below are just a few resources that may be of interest to insurers and the people and businesses they serve.
|COVID-19 Mortality Projections for U.S. States|
|Graphs from the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium show reported and projected deaths per day across the United States and for individual states.|
|The Verisk COVID-19 Projection Tool|
|The Verisk COVID-19 Projection Tool has been made available to enhanceunderstanding of the potential number of worldwide COVID-19 infections and deaths. It provides an interactive dashboard that leverages the AIR Pandemic Model.|
|How State Insurance Departments Are Responding to COVID-19|
|This interactive map from PC360 highlights bulletins and procedures released by state insurance departments as of April 15, 2020.|
|Tracking U.S. Small and Medium Business Sentiment During COVID-19|
|Small and medium-size businesses account for roughly 44% of the U.S. economy and provide employment to about 59 million people. McKinsey is tracking their sentiment to gauge how their views on economic activity, employment, and financial behavior—as well as their expectations about financial institutions and public authorities—change as a result of ongoing public and private interventions.|
CORONAVIRUS WRAP-UP: PROPERTY AND CASUALTY (4/17/2020)
CORONAVIRUS WRAP-UP: PROPERTY AND CASUALTY (4/16/2020)
CORONAVIRUS WRAP-UP: PROPERTY AND CASUALTY (4/15/2020)
CORONAVIRUS WRAP-UP: PROPERTY AND CASUALTY (4/13/2020)
Employment Trends in the Insurance Industry
By Dr. Steven Weisbart, Chief Economist, Insurance Information Institute
On September 6, 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the U.S. economy had added 130,000 jobs (seasonally-adjusted) in August; and more than one-and-a-quarter million nonfarm jobs (actually 1,266,000) through the first eight months of 2019.
Nonfarm employment has risen every month since October 2010—107 consecutive months and counting. Not every sector or industry has consistently added jobs in that span. Indeed, the diversity of the economy has seen robust job growth in some areas that offsets job losses in other areas. Job growth in the immediate wake of the Great Recession was to be expected but the trends in job growth and its persistence in recent years is surprising.
The insurance industry is a case in point. The insurance subindustry with the strongest employment gains in recent years is — not surprisingly—health and medical expense insurers, given the enactment and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. But other insurance subindustries have shown unusual employment trends. For example, as Table 1 shows, both the property/casualty (P/C) and the life/annuity subindustries have generally shed employees.
Perhaps the most surprising row in Table 1 is the Agents & Brokers line. Pundits have been predicting for years that the agent/broker distribution channel is about to be replaced by newer methods of distribution. Obviously, that time has not come yet.
As for the P/C and life/annuity carriers, one might assume that the reductions result from automating routine functions, as has been the case in non-insurance industries, such as manufacturing. If this is the explanation, it translates to increased productivity (more work done with fewer employees), which is obviously a good thing.
Two caveats pertain to this number: first, the July and August numbers are preliminary and are likely to be revised—often slightly—up or down, in the coming two months. Second, the overall benchmark revision, to take effect next winter, is likely to trim half a million jobs from the count for 2019, based on data from the Census Bureau. Even with these adjustments, employment kept growing in 2019.
Bodily Injury Liability Prices and Overall Inflation
By Dr. Steven Weisbart, Chief Economist, Insurance Information Institute
There is good news on the bodily-injury liability insurance front, but no one seems to have noticed. The cost of health care for severely-injured people has barely increased in the last year.
Primarily, bodily injury (BI) liability insurance pays for the medical bills of people who have been severely injured due to the negligence of the insured. As a result, the severity of BI claims would tend to track price changes for inpatient and outpatient hospital services, where severely-injured people would go to get treatment and recover. And lately, these price changes have been shrinking—big time.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates a price component for each of these each month as part of the various versions of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). On June 12 the BLS published its latest data for May 2019.
For inpatient hospital services, the change in prices was +1.2 percent, when compared to prices a year earlier, in May 2018. For outpatient hospital services, the change in prices was even smaller (+0.9 percent), when compared to prices a year earlier.
To put these numbers in some context, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U)—the most widely-used measure of inflation—rose by 1.8 percent in May 2019 vs. May 2018. Many economists prefer to measure inflation without the effect of price changes for food and energy, which are notoriously volatile. This measure is known as the core CPI. Its May 2019 vs. May 2018 change was 2.0 percent.
When was the last time that any healthcare costs—let alone for hospital services—rose at a slower rate than general inflation? Of course, many other factors affect claims for bodily injury liability, but this is a welcome trend for a significant element.
The most familiar index is the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U)—prices as experienced by all urban consumers, but BLS also publishes CPI-W (prices as experienced by urban wage earners and clerical workers).