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How Life Insurers Survive the Coronavirus Crisis

Coronavirus has spread to more than 150 countries and has been recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization by now. According to the latest data, over 440 thousand people were infected worldwide; more than 20 thousand deaths were recorded. In this article we present a selection of news on how different countries are struggling with a new virus.
How Life Insurers Survive the Coronavirus Crisis

Russia 

The All-Russian Union of Insurers (The ARIA) appealed to the Bank of Russia, State Duma, Ministry of Finance and Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin with a voluminous package of measures related to ensuring the work of insurance industry during the coronavirus pandemic. The ARIA offered allowing insurance companies to settle losses with scanned documents and transferring a number of provisions to the law on technical inspection, and softening insurance industry regulation for the emergency period.  

One of the insurance community’s suggestions is to allow the settlement of insurance claims and terminations based on document scans sent in electronic formats. 

Besides, due to quarantine measures and the need to minimize people’s contacts with each other, it seems necessary to postpone the entry of a number of regulatory requirements to the technical inspection law into force. The ARIA suggested postponing enactment of provisions to the law on maintenance regarding the establishment of requirements to the production and technical facilities and technical experts, as well as extending the procedure duration for confirming compliance with new accreditation requirements for existing maintenance operators. 

In order to retain the working efficiency of insurance industry during the coronavirus pandemic period, the ARIA also proposes to reduce a number of regulatory requirements for insurance companies. 

According to the ARIA, it is also necessary to temporarily revise some requirements to insurance reserves and equity placement (in particular, increase the limit on investments in foreign assets from 30-35% to 60%, raise the limit on investments per issuer, and allow accepting the accounts receivables overdue by no more than 90 days to cover insurance reserves, etc.). The ARIA also proposed to temporarily reduce the requirements on attracting loans by insurance companies, as well as allow insurers not to form a stabilization reserve from March 31, 2020. The ARIA also believes it is necessary to allow the fixed date use temporarily (01/31/2020) for the market value assessment on a number of securities for the structural asset ratios. 

USA 

American life insurers are worried about insurance of US clients who have visited countries where coronavirus outbreaks have been reported. 

Lincoln Financial Group set a 30-day waiting period for selling policies to such people. American International Group Inc. announced earlier that it would postpone decisions on life insurance policy sale to customers traveling to China, Hong Kong, Italy and South Korea. 

Erie Family Life offers prospective customers to conclude life insurance contracts without visiting the company's office. This offer is available to people under the age of 55, the size of the insurance policy coverage is up to $500 thousand. 

“We want security for people at this difficult time, - says Louis Colaizzo, the senior vice president of Erie Family Life. - Our underwriting calculates risks based on public profiles and publicly available data.” 

Rating agencies AM Best and Fitch Ratings have revised their forecasts of American life insurers from stable to negative this week, as the global economic crisis has affected them. 

Thailand  

While the Thai government is bearing all medical costs of patients with coronavirus, the policyholders seek greater financial security and peace of mind by acquiring coronavirus insurance. 

Such insurance policies offer two types of coverage: a lump sum payment for diagnosis of the virus and coverage of medical bills, with premiums from 99 to 1,250 Baht. 

At the Thai General Insurance Association meeting last week, the participants expressed concern about the moral risks faced by policyholders and insurers underestimating the risks associated with providing coverage under COVID-19. 

Given that COVID-19 insurance can lead high-insured policyholders to expose themselves to the virus and make claims, OIC states it is closely monitoring insurers and policyholders. 

Several insurers had to suspend the sale of insurance policies covering lump-sum payments when sales of policies approached the threshold of 500,000 to 750,000 units. 

Nigeria 

Prudential Zenith Life Insurance has launched a payment service provider that allows people to buy life insurance policies using their mobile phones. Potential customers just need to dial *5966 # and in a few minutes they will receive an SMS, then the payment can be made or agreement with an agent can be concluded. 

The survey shows that level of insurance in Nigeria is insufficient, only one percent of the country's population has a life insurance policy. 

Photos are from open sources.   

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