Insurers Hiscox and Beazley estimate up to $345 mln of COVID-19 claims

Insurers Hiscox and Beazley estimate up to $345 mln of COVID-19 claims

LONDON, April 22 – Lloyd’s of London insurers Hiscox and Beazley expect to pay up to $345 million between them to settle claims for issues including cancellation of travel and events due to the coronavirus crisis, they said on Wednesday.

Hiscox said it expected to pay up to $175 million to settle claims if disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic that has put billions of people on lockdown lasts more than six months.

That sum would decrease to up to $150 million if the disruption lasted six months or less.

Beazley, meanwhile, said it faces $170 million of losses, net of reinsurance, comprised of $100 million in marine, property and reinsurance and $70 million for the political, accident and contingency division which covers event cancellation, accidents and health.

The two insurers are among Lloyd’s of London’s biggest syndicate members and were responding to the market’s request for all members to submit estimates of their COVID-19 exposure, which it will publish early next month.

Both insurers also said they had received applications from small companies looking to claim on their business interruption policies but that most of these policies did not provide appropriate cover for measures taken in response to a global pandemic.

Hiscox said a number of UK policyholders had disputed their lack of cover and it would look to work with the industry, regulators and customers to “seek means of expediting resolution through range of independent mechanisms”.

“Hiscox recognises these are extremely difficult times for businesses and is determined to help provide greater certainty for customers,” it said in a statement.

Beazley, meanwhile, said it would respond quickly to claims from bespoke policyholders who had some degree of pandemic protection.

Britain’s markets watchdog has said that most policies bought by smaller UK companies do not cover business disruption caused by the pandemic.

Two groups of small businesses are threatening legal action against Hiscox over unpaid claims.

Peel Hunt analysts highlighted downside risks to the insurers’ estimates, reiterating their “reduce” ratings on the stocks.

Both companies’ shares were up around 2% at 1347 GMT, compared with a 1.2% rise in the FTSE 250 index.

Beazley, which also reported a $55 million investment loss in the first quarter because of this year’s sell-off in financial markets, said it had been communicating with brokers on possible changes to its risk appetite.


(By Sinead Cruise and Carolyn Cohn)

(Additional reporting by Muvija M in Bangalore Editing by Maiya Keidan, David Goodman and Jonathan Oatis)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020