The COVID-19 outbreak could have been described as a double whammy for the (Belgian) insurance industry, hitting both its activity as asset managers and its activity as risk carriers. In this article, Wauthier Robyns from Assuralia, the trade association of insurance undertakings, explains how pandemics test the limits of insurability due to a lack of robust statistics allowing sound underwriting and due to the systemic nature of losses arising simultaneously around the globe: as yet there is no self-evident blueprint for insurance solutions matching the entire fallout of such pandemics.
The impact of COVID-19 across the spectrum of the insurance industry varies according to the distinct business lines. In some lines of business, the fallback in wages or production will be reflected by a fallback in premium income; in some lines like automobile insurance the lockdown led to a decrease in claims frequency while the long-term effect is still uncertain. Belgium did not experience strong controversies about business interruption insurances as elsewhere, since on the Belgian market such cover tends to be strictly related to events in which named perils caused material losses. Trade credit insurance deserves a special mention due to its important role in maintaining trust among businesses in troubled times, through a public-private partnership providing the guarantees needed to keep the covered volumes of business at the pre-COVID-19 level. Both the industry and individual companies took special measures to help their customers face an unexpected emergency.