Covid-19 Idea Pulse Alerts: Week 8
INSURER ACTIONS BETWEEN AUGUST 8 AND AUGUST 21, 2020
The Idea Pulse series on COVID-19 monitors innovations and insurer strategies that are being shaped in response to the continuing pandemic. These are some of the noteworthy developments across the global insurance industry in the fortnight of August 8 to August 21, 2020.
|Key Takeaways this fortnight:
Pandemic Modelling Tools
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and African Risk Capacity Insurance (ARC), a mutual insurance facility providing risk transfer services to member states of the African Union, have launched two COVID-19 modelling tools for Africa: COVID-19 Potential Outcomes Scenarios and COVID-19 Spread Simulation Tool for Africa. The tools have the capacity to use actual reported cases per time to generate the weekly cumulative number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths for each member state; and the daily distribution of cases into disease stages at subnational levels.
Developed by experts from ARC with inputs by Africa CDC, WHO AFRO and other partners, the tools will help African Union Member States in evaluating the potential magnitude of COVID-19 in their countries and in making a decision on appropriate response to mitigate the risks.
Global risk broker Willis Tower Watson’s Willis Research Network (WRN) announced a new partnership with Metabiota, the risk analytics organisation that specialises in infectious diseases modelling and helps businesses and countries build resilience to pandemics. In the press release, John Haley, CEO, Willis Towers Watson, has said that the research partnership with Metabiota highlights Willis Towers Watson’s commitment to developing a full understanding of pandemic risk and providing risk transfer tools to enable communities to build greater resilience to pandemic diseases such as COVID-19.
Metabiota has been featured in multiple COVID-19 responses before – as a collaborator in Marsh’s Pathogen RX pandemic insurance product and lately, among the first three members of Lloyd’s Lab fast-tracked cohort 5, selected to develop solutions and services related to COVID-19.
UK insurtech sprout.ai, a claims automation & fraud filtering platform announced the release of its transformational claim settlement solution for health insurers globally, utilising Contextual AI. Sprout’s positioning is, that with Covid-19 driving a 55% increase in average policyholder contact time, health insurers are at risk of missing fraudulent claims.
Sprout.ai’s solution allows health insurance companies to immediately diagnose whether a connection can be identified between the treatment and illness specified in a claim. Through Contextual AI, Sprout.ai can leverage the underlying symptom-based data for each claim based on illness, medication and treatment, including symptoms linked to specific conditions. Sprout.ai’s web crawlers, able to access over 50 global databases, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) website, can enrich insurers’ data up to 300%.
Insurance industry news and analysis publication Business Insurance announced the winners of their Innovation Awards for 2020. Origami Risk LLC, a risk, safety and insurance SaaS provider won an award for their COVID-19 Digital Solution Suite that helps employers address exposures related to COVID-19.
Launched in April, the solution built within Origami’s Risk Management Information System(RIMS) platform includes these features: Online mapping/visualization GIS tools that combine publicly available incident data feeds (such as the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 case map) with employer locations; status audits, to track operational impacts across the enterprise as individual locations self-report and statuses relative to COVID-19, exposure tracking based on testing statuses, quarantine dates, employee leave notifications and travel exposures; and location-specific disaster notifications to affected employees.
Indian start-up insurtech Toffee Insurance has launched “The Toffee Plan” a monthly insurance subscription plan that provides the benefits of life insurance, health insurance, and household insurance in one bundle. The product is backed by several leading Indian insurers.
The sachet plan provides a Health insurance cover starting from Rs 3 lakh ($ 4,000) for each family member including hospitalization expenses arising from pandemics such as COVID-19. Life Insurance starting from Rs 50 lakh ($67,000) and Household Insurance starting from Rs 1 lakh ($1,300) are also included in the same subscription. Monthly premiums start at an affordable Rs 600 ($8). Toffee is betting on the increased consumer demand for insurance protection in India, the third-worst affected country worldwide, which is going through a prolonged wave of the pandemic.
Life, Health and Travel Products
South African insurer GENRIC Insurance Company has launched a new pandemic health product. Pandemic Shield, provides cover for the current coronavirus pandemic – and any sudden outbreak of disease declared to be a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and recognised as such by the national government. The policy covers pay a lump sum stated benefit in the event of hospitalisation, and a higher plan includes a daily cash payout throughout the hospital stay. The entire process from the initial product concept to launching live in the market was completed in 50 days in partnership with UK based Genasys Technologies.
After successively launching work from home insurance products in Singapore and Hong Kong in July and August, Chubb Asia has now announced the launch of Recover & Return Insurance, a “back to office” group insurance plan for businesses in Singapore. Per Chubb, with countries and territories beginning to emerge from lockdowns, businesses need to consider establishing risk mitigation plans to protect workforces when they return to traditional workplaces.
Highlights of this product include lump-sum payouts upon diagnosis of COVID-19. Benefits for the employee cover admission to the hospital, admission to intensive care and family bereavement in the event of the demise of an insured employee. Employer benefits include counselling for employees if a colleague is diagnosed with COVID-19 and workplace disinfection.
Japanese insurer Taiyo Life Insurance announced plans to launch a new insurance product for individuals hospitalized due to COVID-19 or other infectious diseases. In addition to the lump sum hospitalisation benefit, the product will offer other lumpsum benefits to policyholders to help them cover drops in income and additional expenses related to the diseases.
In Japan, persons testing positive for coronavirus are required complete a 10-day quarantine in principle. During the period, they may see their incomes drop and face unexpected costs, such as for hiring a babysitter. Customers can receive the benefits by paying about 500 yen ($5) per month in addition to premiums for a regular hospital benefits insurance policy, which provides 200,000 yen ($1,900) in a one-off payment.
The country of Spain which is seeing a surge in new infections this August; among the highest in Europe at the time of writing, has also been in COVID-19 travel insurance news this fortnight.
In partnership with French insurer Axa, Spain’s Canary Islands Canaries’ Department of Tourism, Industry and Commerce is offering free coverage for medical expenses to tourists if they contract Covid-19 while on the islands. The plan covers all tourists and includes health-related repatriations. Spain’s neighbouring Portugal Tourism Authority had launched a similar scheme earlier this month, which received an unexpectedly high response in the number of inquiries from the UK; and the Canary Islands may be hoping to follow suit.
Spanish travel insurance broker InterMundial has begun offering customers access to rapid and reduced-price Covid-19 tests and cancellation cover in cases of a positive diagnosis. The scheme was launched this week with the aim of ‘facilitating access’ to Covid-19 detection tests as other countries have begun asking Spanish visitors for proof of testing negative for entry.
Travel insurers are also having to innovate in the face of dynamically changing travel advisories this month – as the pandemic surged again in several European countries.
UK travel insurance Staysure is now offering protection to customers travelling against the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) – to countries on the FCO watch list – by adding a European FCO Travel Advice Extension to their policy. There is a caveat though – insureds are covered by policy limits, but not COVID-19 related claims. If the FCO advises travellers to return home from the host country during the trip, Staysure will pay up to £1,000 for additional accommodation and travel expenses where needed.
While travel insurers have been trying to re-engage with customers by offering COVID-19 cover, the recent flare-up of the pandemic across many European nations may challenge their risk assumptions one more time and may become a cause for concern. In India for example, non-life insurers have been mandated by regulatory body IRDA to provide COVID only health plans; however, they have been unable to reinsure these products.