Just as it has played a key role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the insurance industry will be integral to the economic recovery as businesses and communities reopen.
Aon forms recovery coalition
Re/insurance broker Aon has formed a coalition of companies and organizations to focus on aiding social and economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Reinsurance News reports.
Starting in Chicago, the coalition will create a model and framework to inform criteria and guidelines to help restart the economy worldwide, with the aim of scaling the work to other key geographies, including London, New York, Singapore and Tokyo. The coalition will work closely with Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s and Mayor Lightfoot’s offices to ensure alignment with public health and city/state official recommendations.
The broker believes this will help to assess impact and measurement of efforts, evaluate the latest technologies, and develop guidelines to help navigate the challenges businesses face as society reopens.
“We have used our expertise to assist clients in maintaining operations and mitigating risk during the pandemic—and believe we have a responsibility to play a larger role in helping the private and public sector navigate the recovery,” said Aon CEO Greg Case.
Initial coalition members include: Abbott, Accenture, Allstate, Beam Suntory, BMO Harris, CDW, CNA, ComEd, ConAgra, Exelon, Fortuna Brands, Hyatt, JLL, McDonald’s, Mondelez, Morningstar, Motorola Solutions, Sterling Bay, Ulta Beauty, United Airlines, Walgreens, Whirlpool, and Zurich.
S&P panelists wary of post-COVID-19 headwinds
A panel of property and casualty insurers at the S&P Global Ratings’ Annual Insurance Conference raised concerns about the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Reinsurance News reports.
S&P analysts currently believe COVID-19 related losses will total between $15 billion and $30 billion for the U.S. P&C market alone over the next two years.
The panelists agreed that coverage for pandemic-induced business interruptions and losses will be a complicated issue for the industry to face, even though viruses are generally not a covered peril for commercial properties.
“I never envisioned managing through a global pandemic,” said Christopher Swift of The Hartford.
“Clearly the challenge is how you are operating both internally and externally,” said W. Robert Berkley, Jr., of WR Berkley. “It calls for flexibility, but also for the ability to plan amid uncertainty.”
Panelists said workers’ compensation claims due to COVID-19 illnesses could be an inflection point, though, as states scrutinize policies given the rising number of these claims. If coverage is expanded, insurers will need to evaluate this risk and price accordingly.
Moderator Kevin Ahern, managing director and analytical manager, S&P Global Ratings, noted that the U.S. P&C market faces many headwinds, not just those related to COVID-19. These include competitive pressures, the pricing/underwriting/reinsurance environment, and evolving regulatory and legislative developments.
Iowa Legislature approves COVID-19 liability shield
Legislation headed to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk would provide liability limitations on potential COVID-19 lawsuits for a broad range of businesses and organizations — among them restaurants, retail establishments, meatpacking plants, churches, medical providers and senior care facilities — provided they followed public health guidance, Business Record reported.
Senate File 2338, the COVID-19 Response and Back-to-Business Limited Liability Act, would prohibit individuals from filing a civil lawsuit against a business or health care organization unless it relates to a minimum medical condition (a diagnosis of COVID-19 that requires in-patient hospitalization or results in death) or involves an act that was intended to cause harm or that constitutes actual malice.
The legislation would protect tenants, lessees and occupants of any premises — including any commercial, residential, educational, religious, governmental, cultural, charitable or health care facility — in which a person is invited in and is exposed to COVID-19.
However, liability would extend to anyone who “recklessly disregards a substantial and unnecessary risk that the individual would be exposed to COVID-19,” or exposes the individual to COVID-19 through an act that constitutes actual malice or intentionally exposes the individual to COVID-19.
The provisions, which would be retroactive to Jan. 1, also shield health care providers from liability for civil damages “for causing or contributing, directly or indirectly, to the death or injury of an individual as a result of the health care provider’s acts or omissions while providing or arranging health care in support of the state’s response to COVID-19.”
Ill. workers comp measure becomes law
Legislation signed into law in Illinois will provide worker compensation benefits for front-line and essential workers who contract COVID-19 on the job under certain conditions, Business Insurance reports.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed H.B. 2455, which will provide death benefits for first responders who were presumably infected with COVID-19 on duty and also revises state code to expand unemployment benefits and enhance sick pay and leave for workers who contract the virus.
Under the law, employers can rebut claims under certain conditions, including if they can demonstrate the workplace was following current public health guidelines for two weeks before the employee claims to have contracted the virus; provide proof the employee was exposed by another source outside the workplace; or that the employee was working from home for at least 14 days before the claimed injury.
The law also says first responders, including police officers and firefighter who die after testing positive for COVID-19 or its antibodies, are entitled to death benefits. However, the virus must have been determined to have been contracted between March 9 — the first day of Illinois’ governor-mandated stay-at-home order — and Dec. 31, 2020. Under the law, the date of contraction is either the date of diagnosis with COVID-19 or the date the first responder was unable to work due to symptoms that were later diagnosed as related to COVID-19 infection, whichever occurred first.