By Carolyn Cohn
LONDON (Reuters) – “Black Swan” reinsurance schemes backed by governments could help businesses get insurance pay-outs after huge shocks such as the coronavirus pandemic, Lloyd’s of London said.
Commercial insurance market Lloyd’s has said insurers worldwide will pay out more than $100 billion in coronavirus-related claims this year.
But many firms are frustrated that their business interruption policies do not cover the pandemic and some in Europe and the United States are in dispute with insurers.
The Black Swan cover could be used to ensure payments after catastrophes such as a cyber attack or solar storm destroying critical infrastructure, as well as for pandemics, Lloyd’s said in a report published on Wednesday.
“Our concern is, you solve for pandemic and you don’t solve for the next disaster,” Lloyd’s Chief Executive John Neal told Reuters.
Insurers in Britain, France, Germany and the United States are seeking government-backed “Pandemic Re” cover for future pandemics, similar to existing pooled insurance schemes for damage due to terror attacks.
Neal said that unlike a Pandemic Re, a Black Swan Re would help firms after “multiple systemic exposures”.
British insurance buyers’ trade body Airmic said it welcomed the call for broad solutions to catastrophes “beyond the pandemic”.
European risk managers have also called for a broader programme.
Lloyd’s, which has set up a 15 million pound ($18.5 million) seed fund to create new products, is also proposing a government-backed after-the-event product to give small businesses a quick cash injection after a crisis.
And the market is working on a new business interruption policy for its small business customers, to insure sums of up to 100,000 pounds, which Neal said could launch this year.
Britain’s markets watchdog is taking eight insurers to court, including two Lloyd’s syndicates, to clarify whether some business interruption policy wordings should trigger pay-outs.
Customer opinions of insurance have deteriorated as a result of the disputes, the Lloyd’s report found.
The proposals were made in conjunction with Lloyd’s’ global advisory committee, which includes major insurers such as Allianz and AXA.
($1 = 0.8091 pounds)
(Editing by Alexander Smith and Jan Harvey)