Executive summary :
Broadly speaking, the COVID-19 virus is sweeping westwards across the world – beginning in China at the end of 2019, reaching Europe from February/March 2020, and now taking increasing hold in North America. How greatly it will hit other parts of the globe remains to be seen.
When we look at the response of insurers in different jurisdictions around the world, the stage they are at corresponds to where they are geographically and how far they are through the timeline of the virus’ spread.
In Asia, where the virus struck first, insurers took rapid action to respond to the rapidly unfolding situation and are now, one hopes, on the verge of moving into a period of assessment to gauge where the market heads from here and what the long-term impact may be.
In Europe and North America, however, insurers are still very much in the eye of the storm – configuring their operations to cope and trying to establish what business as usual looks like in extraordinary times.
It is still early days in a situation that will doubtless have repercussions and implications for many years to come. However, certain common themes are already becoming clear for insurers around the globe.
The most obvious theme has been the suddenness of the impact of the virus and the substantial effect on how insurers (along with businesses of all kinds) run their operations. Insurance companies have had to shift almost their entire workforces to operating remotely, while dealing with significantly increased activity in their claims functions. We will examine these operational issues in more detail in another article in this series.
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