Triple-I CEO: 2020 Proved Insurers Can Lead Through Disruption

Sean Kevelighan

The U.S.’s auto, home, and business insurers have more than met the challenges raised by COVID-19 over the past year, according to Sean Kevelighan, CEO, Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I).

“2020 proved how this industry can lead through disruption. We can adapt. We can innovate. We can keep our promises and pay claims—even during a global pandemic,” Kevelighan said, in remarks today to the Reinsurance Association of America’s (RAA) virtual 2021 Catastrophe Risk Management conference.

The net income after taxes for U.S. auto, home, and business insurers cumulatively dropped to $35 billion in the first nine months of 2020, a 25-plus percent decrease from where the insurers’ net income after taxes stood after the first nine months of 2019, Kevelighan said. The deterioration was attributable in part to the severity of 2020’s hurricanes, wildfires, and civil unrest.

Despite these events, the Triple-I’s CEO noted how insurers provided an estimated $14 billion in premium relief to locked-down drivers, donated nearly $300 million to charitable causes, and largely retained its national workforce of 2.8 million Americans as premiums grew modestly.

“If you look at net premiums written growth, we were actually at the 10-year average last year,” Kevelighan continued, reporting how auto, home, and business insurers realized three percent net premiums written growth year-over-year when comparing the first nine months of 2020 to the same timeframe in 2019. Net premiums written are premiums written after reinsurance transactions.

COVID-19’s arrival in the U.S. also prompted the Triple-I’s launch last year of its Future of American Insurance & Reinsurance (FAIR) campaign, he continued, as policymakers, such as those in the U.S. House of Representatives, sought clarity on what property damages were, and were not, covered under standard business income (interruption) insurance policies.

“The FAIR campaign was meant to be an aggressive way to inform the discussion,” Kevelighan stated, “Our customers needed financial support and we knew the federal government was the only entity who could provide it.”

In assessing 2021’s key issues, Kevelighan said he thought telematics and social inflation would take on greater import among insurers and their policyholders. “Telematics is one way our industry can drive safety on our roads,” the Triple-I’s CEO said, referring to the devices drivers can place voluntarily in their vehicles to reduce the cost of auto insurance and to encourage safe driving habits. “Social inflation is getting worse. These massive litigation lawsuits are really putting a strain on the cost of liability insurance,” Kevelighan stated.

Following his remarks, Kevelighan participated in a live question and answer session moderated by Frank Nutter, president, RAA. Katrin Zitzelsberger, senior epidemiologist, Munich Re, and Damon Vocke, partner, Duane Morris, joined them.