We are still in the spirit of Eid and a long, hot summer is upon us, giving us time to reflect on the different challenges of the day where COVID-19 takes centre stage though with varying degrees of recovery actions and foolhardiness depending on which end of the spectrum you stand. The good and bad continue with some old romantic notions of treasured family times and old, unwavering business ties and friendships being brutally exposed too.
Insurance is hard hit in the COVID-19 era with some putting the claims exposures beyond $100bn globally. And with the business interruption damages being disputed in degrees, the image of insurance is once again at the forefront, though most markets are reporting an increase in insurance purchases.
These are indeed challenging times as it is a time when leaders are forced to make a call on ‘lives vs livelihood’. The imperatives of economic growth is slowly taking precedence as lockdowns beyond eight weeks are taking an irreparable toll on the recovery and growth prospects. Though on the infection front, while some are getting blasé, there are yet others who are paranoid with no right answers. A true vaccine is still awaited the world over. Will the miracle happen soon?
It is these doubtful times that I urge you to reflect on the real heroes in the industry and nominate them for the 7th Middle East Insurance Industry Awards (MIIA). We want to salute young executives, female leaders and outstanding personalities who make insurance a stellar industry.
Our cover story goes that extra stretch to show how insurers are trying incredibly hard to boost customer service and engagement during the pandemic. But the real question is, will there be dependable customer loyalty for insurers?
Our country profile is on Bahrain, hammered by low growth due to the geopolitics of the day made worse by the pandemic. Some smaller insurers may even see their solvency being stressed in the short term.
We have a feature on the precarious construction sector, being one of the most affected by the double whammy of the oil crisis and the pandemic. This will have ripple effects on the emerging C&E market in the region.
Another important issue for the sector is the event cancellation insurance market, which is a nightmare for many buyers to navigate as what they have bought seems inadequate in the current crisis. So the chase goes on? Buyers beware, but sellers bear the long-term impact more.
With the perfect storm raging in the global insurance world, an increase in premium rates seems a must. Reinsurers need it the most, having subsidised most of the potential losses. All seems set for a hard market. But in the weaker economy with most businesses struggling to survive, can they suddenly afford to pay more for insurance? What can regulators and government bodies do to help insurance across the world? Bear in mind that insurance is an essential service without which the wheels of the economy will grind to a halt.
There is always hope yet!
Middle East Insurance Review