Industry feeling the effects of long COVID

The past seven days have been defined by the second wave of the COVID pandemic, at a time when insurers are still seeking to make their peace with the first.

As the world hailed two new vaccines that provide a light at the end of  the tunnel, the length of which increases daily, across the globe ever larger numbers of the population are returning to strict isolation measures.

In the UK, Wales emerged from its “circuit breaker” as large swathes of Scotland joined England and Northern Ireland in lockdown. England is due to emerge from the lockdown on 2 December with the media pushing to understand the rules under which the country will spend the Christmas and New Year period.

Currently the country will return to a regional tier system, with rumours that families may be given a five day window to meet from Christmas Eve. The sting in the tail would be that scientists say the trade off would be a further four week lockdown to stymie any uptick in cases caused by the Christmas relaxation.

All this comes as the Financial Conduct Authority and several insurers fight it out in the UK supreme court in the appeal over the rulings on the validity of the policy exclusions in a range of business interruption policies.

While families are pushing for the opportunity to meet for Christmas businesses across the world continue to be forced to close their doors as part of the lockdown restrictions.

Therefore, insurers are facing a second wave of claims from a range of business interruption and event cancellations at a time when courts from the UK to Australia are seeking to define the liabilities for the first lockdown.

The joy over the vaccine has been tempered by the fact that the scale of the logistics needed to vaccinate the necessary numbers of the population has seen many experts predicting any meaningful level of immunisation will not be delivered until the middle of next year.

Lloyd’s Chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown has said the market has upped its estimates on the pandemic losses from $107 billion to nearer the figure for the worst loss year in record when the market faced $144 billion in 2017, a year defined by three catastrophic events.

Aviva Group CEO Amanda Blanc yesterday said she had been deeply saddened by the dent to the market’s reputation over its perceived handling of the COVID claims.

The industry finds itself facing the potential for another seven months of restriction placed upon their policyholders across the world, without any real certainty on which to adequately establish their exposures. There are growing concerns that what had been seen as a catastrophic, but manageable event is threatening to have far more serious implications for the industry and the economy.