COVID-19 pandemic to cost insurers $200bn

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2 min read
The usually busy area around the Lloyd's building in London seems deserted due to ongoing lockdown. (Barry Lewis/InPictures via Getty Images)

Insurance marketplace Lloyd’s of London said its members are set to pay out $4.3bn (£3.5bn) over the COVID-19 pandemic and warned the entire industry could lose a record $200bn.

Lloyd’s of London said on Thursday its members will pay out between $3bn and $4.3bn on a range of policies covering the pandemic. Most claims are for cancelled events, property cover, and disrupted travel.

The pay out will be “on a par” with the insurance cost of the 11 September terrorists attacks in 2001 and equivalent to all the payouts made for hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017 combined.

Lloyd’s said the final bill from the pandemic would likely “be far in excess of those historical events” once “the scale and complexity of the social and economic impact of COVID-19 is fully understood.”

“The global insurance industry is paying out on a very wide range of policies to support businesses and people affected by COVID-19,” Lloyd’s chief executive John Neal said in a statement.

The surge in payouts is likely to push Lloyd’s members to an underwriting loss of $107bn (£87bn). Meanwhile, tanking stock markets mean insurers’ investment portfolios have underperformed, leaving them less to fund payouts with and adding to losses.

All told, the insurance industry could lose a record $200bn this year, Lloyd’s said.

“What makes COVID-19 unique is the not just the devastating continuing human and social impact, but also the economic shock,” Neal said.

“Taking all those factors together will challenge the industry as never before, but we will keep focused on supporting our customers and continuing to pay claims over the weeks and months ahead.”

Neal said Lloyds was donating £15m to charitable causes linked to the pandemic and had also set aside another £15m “to explore how the industry can create or house structures which support economic recovery and mitigate against future events of this magnitude.”

Founded in 1688, Lloyd’s of London is an insurance and re-insurance marketplace where members meet to price and trade risk.