Chubb CEO Sees $100B or More Pandemic Cost for Insurers

Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg estimates the pandemic will hurt business insurers by "$100B or greater," writes New York Times' Mary Williams Walsh in DealBook.

Source: Seeking Alpha | Published on May 26, 2020

Covid-19 concept image with "Coronavirus covid-19" text against a blue background. Red viruses made with rendering 3D - computer generated image.

Not only will claims come flooding in — from people exposed to the virus at work, patients injured by overwhelmed hospital systems, travelers whose trips were canceled — but insurance companies are suffering investment losses on the reserves they set aside to pay the claims.

And while COVID-19 has disrupted businesses, it doesn't mean that all of the business disruption policy claims are valid, Greenberg said.

For one thing, policyholders submitting claims for business interruption insurance will have to prove they have "direct physical damage," he said.

That's something that's sure to be fought over in the courts. Also lawmakers have been calling for legislation that would make pandemic-related business interruptions insurable.

Greenberg says Chubb has been getting tens of thousands of pandemic-related claims in the 55 countries in which it operates.

He explains that the general exclusion of pandemic losses from business insurance coverage is for a reason. "If you had insurance to cover the pandemic, you'd be underwriting the whole U.S. economy... With a finite balance sheet you'd be taking on infinite risk."

Still, Chubb is paying some business interruption claims related to the pandemic and will be paying more in the next weeks and months, he said. Those payments will be "quite visible in Chubb's next quarterly results, Greenberg said.