Covid-19 industry loss estimate hiked 50% by UBS on non-US BI uncertainty

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Analysts from investment bank UBS have added 50% to their estimate for the eventual insurance and reinsurance industry loss from the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, lifting the top-end of the range to $60 billion.

coronavirus-covid19-pandemic-worldThat still sits below the top-end of an estimate from specialist insurance and reinsurance focused equity analysts Dowling & Partners, who as we explained earlier this week said the property and casualty (P&C) insurance industry loss from Covid-19 pandemic related claims alone could be between $40 billion and $80 billion.

UBS had initially said it estimated the industry-wide loss from the coronavirus outbreak would be between $22 billion and $42 billion, across insurance and reinsurance.

However, now the analysts cite an understanding that business interruption claims will be more of an issue outside of the United States, which has led them to raise the loss estimate.

UBS has raised its estimate for non-U.S. business interruption to between $7 billion to $22 billion from $5 billion to $15 billion.

In addition, the analysts forecast between $8 billion and $16 billion in credit insurance losses, largely falling to reinsurance carriers.

It’s interesting that UBS has focused on business interruption outside the U.S. as a key driver in the increase to its estimate.

It’s understood that there are regions of Europe and other countries where business interruption is not strongly worded and exclusions seen as lacking, which could drive more claims through to insurers and ultimately reinsurance capital.

So, UBS now believes that the industry insured loss from Covid-19 will be between $30 billion and $60 billion, representing a 50% uplift to both ends of its range.

Taking the mid-point estimates from UBS and Dowling & Partners would give a range from $45 billion to as high as $60 billion, which would seem reasonable for the P&C insurance and reinsurance market to expect to take.

Others are suggesting higher, but really for the industry toll to rise much above these figures you are going to have to see some sort of legal effort in the United States to force business interruption into more policies than are currently expected to face exposure to the pandemic.

If that happened then the industry toll could easily be seen to rise towards the $100 billion mark, some sources suggest. But that still remains an outside possibility at this time.

The move by UBS’ analysts to increase their industry loss estimate so significantly suggests they see the potential for the insurance and reinsurance industry to take a higher claims burden than many had initially anticipated from regions outside the U.S.

As we explained the other day, some insurance-linked securities (ILS) fund managers have proactively marked-down a handful of collateralised reinsurance positions, seeing a risk of potential exposure and perhaps even some losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. We understand that in a number of cases this is down to the potential BI exposure outside the U.S.

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