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How is the insurance sector reacting to the health crisis?

By 7 April 2020April 10th, 2024Financial services & institutions

Currently, more than 300,000 companies employing more than 5 million employees use the partial unemployment scheme. The service activity of financial institutions has enabled a large majority of players in this sector to continue their activities and, for the most part, not to have recourse for the moment to government partial unemployment measures.

The communications of the actors of the sector are generally convergent because they generally followed the recommendations of their representative bodies; in the insurance sector for example, FFA, FNMF and CTIP.

Financial institutions, as in many other sectors, have activated their BCPs, a device designed to deal with a risk situation and guarantee both the safety and health of employees and the continuity of their activities and service to their customers. Note that in the insurance sector, AMRAE has made its PCA guide available free of charge to players in the sector (available here).

The first words and concrete actions of the actors were towards the employees in order to respond to the health emergency with measures intended for employees and agents. Many companies indicate that they have taken up the various mechanisms activated during the social movements of December and January, which consist in allowing people whose positions lend themselves to telework. Containment measures have pushed these devices to be further extended: the massive provision of VPNs, access to remote servers and computer equipment (laptops, screens) has enabled a very large majority of employees to continue their activities. It is estimated today that the players have succeeded in putting more than 80% of their employees into teleworking.

The second phase of communication was geared towards customers, either through their customer areas, their emails or on social networks, in order to maintain proximity with them and reassure them. In addition, unlike banks which have kept their branches open, insurers have closed theirs, which has forced them to deport all of their activities and support for their clients via the telephone and more generally digital tools. It was therefore essential to inform customers and explain to them how they can keep in contact with them.

It was also necessary to clarify and shed light on the insured on the impact of the situation with regard to their insurance cover, for example in the event of partial unemployment or work stoppage due to childcare.

In the third phase, insurers announced several solidarity measures.

  • Mask donation to caregivers
  • Deferral of payment of contributions
  • Continuity of guarantees even in the event of late payment or the postponement of disputes and formal notices
  • Financial contribution of 200 million euros announced by the FFA, in order to supplement the Solidarity Fund set up by the public authorities in favor of VSEs and the Self-employed.
  • Immediate payments of pending supplier invoices
  • Establishment of psychological support units for clients
  • Provision of a legal, fiscal, social and financial assistance service
  • Provision of applications that offer adapted physical activities during periods of confinement.

Finally, many players have also communicated to reassure the markets of their financial strength while being supported by the regulators. For example, the ACPR grants flexibility on prudential reporting which will benefit from additional delays.

Beyond all these provisions, many questions remain unanswered: for example, compensation for VSEs in operating loss, a subject on which the FFA communicated, indicating that in the context of a pandemic, the sector does not did not have the means and the surface necessary to take charge of such a risk. Will a health disaster regime be put in place after the crisis? It should be noted that in China, the Chinese regulatory authority (CBIRC) has set up insurance to cover operating losses suffered by companies following the spread of the Coronavirus: the province of Hainan has thus taken the decision to subsidize 70% of the insurance premium due by certain companies considered to be key.

Finally, there are other questions about the evolution of claims; For example, in auto insurance, we can see an 80% drop in claims (in this regard, MAIF has taken the initiative to redistribute 100 million euros to its members by encouraging them to donate the sums recovered to organizations of helpers). Furthermore, in health insurance, there has been a sharp reduction in services and at the same time an increased use of the teleconsultation service of the platforms offered by insurers. Conversely, it is very likely that the loss experience in provident insurance will increase very significantly. Savings on the one hand, additional costs on the other, it is obvious that insurers will also have to face a technical challenge.

Jean Levoir & Rhalid Bouakhris

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