While a lot of the insurance-centered coronavirus discussion has focused on whether health insurers cover coronavirus treatment, LIMRA decided to take a look at how life insurers are planning to deal with possible impacts of a pandemic.
A quick LIMRA and LOMA survey of financial services companies found that 91% have a pandemic stress scenario in place. In addition, 71% have assessed and quantified the potential impact on their key business in the event of higher mortality.
When it comes to the coronavirus outbreak, 39% of companies are looking at it as being similar in severity to a SARS-like (or moderate) pandemic. Another 26% see it as being more similar to a severe flu season. Only 16% of companies view coronavirus as having the potential to be a severe pandemic with higher mortality than either SARS or the flu due to mutation.
According to LIMRA’s survey, most companies indicate they develop and run their own pandemic stress scenario, while 40% are running scenarios based on the 1918 flu pandemic.
LIMRA notes that life insurers are in the business of assessing and mitigating risk—it is what they do day in and day out. This has enabled them to honor their commitments to their policyholders for hundreds of years and will allow them to respond to the challenges that the coronavirus could present.
“It’s reassuring to know that our member companies are planning for what they would do and how a pandemic might impact their customers,” said Marianne A. Purushotham, corporate vice president, LIMRA.
In all, 70% of companies said they are running these scenarios as if something were to happen on a pandemic level.
To mitigate their risk, many life insurers take out reinsurance against “extreme mortality” events such as a global pandemic.