This is a challenging and uncertain time in the U.S. and across the globe. Property casualty insurers are here to work with those adversely affected by the pandemic, while continuing to deliver on the promises made to home, auto, and business owners year-round. We’re all in uncharted territory right now with COVID-19, but we are all in it together.
Insurers understand the urgency of helping businesses and individuals recover from this unprecedented crisis and mitigate a larger shut down of the economy. Insurers are voluntarily implementing new discounts and refunds for policyholders; expanding flexible payment solutions for families, individuals, and businesses; suspending premium billing for small businesses such as restaurants and bars; and pausing cancellation of coverage for motorists due to non-payment and policy expiration.
Insurers supported the recently enacted federal assistance programs to deliver aid directly to vulnerable business communities, particularly affected small businesses. APCIA also joined a broad coalition of our customers to advance the COVID-19 Business and Employee Continuity and Recovery Fund as an additional tool to keep businesses solvent and employees working. We will be advocating alongside them for inclusion of the fund in the next phase of economic stimulus to speed payments to businesses in need. Only the federal government can be the bridge for a crisis of this proportion.
Meanwhile, even as insurers are protecting the safety of their employees and transitioning to remote workplaces, our industry is handling claims as we always have. Insurers are deploying new technologies and remote solutions to minimize any interruptions in service and claims handling. This is especially important during an era of increased natural catastrophe frequency. The spring flood season had a major impact on communities across the country, tornadoes are roaring through the southeast and Midwest, hurricane season has arrived and wildfires are a year-round threat.
Many commercial insurance policies, including those that include business interruption coverage, do not include coverage for communicable diseases or viruses such as COVID-19. Some are calling for actions that would retroactively rewrite existing insurance policies to add new risks to the promises that were made to insurance customers. These types of proposals could have dramatic repercussions for families, individuals, motorists, and businesses, potentially compromising the financial ability of insurers to meet their existing promises.
If policymakers force insurers to pay for losses that are not covered under existing insurance policies, the stability of the sector could be impacted and that could affect the ability of consumers to address everyday risks that are covered by the property casualty industry.
Exploiting this crisis with litigation profiteering will stop America’s recovery before it even starts. This is especially important as business owners manage the uncertainty of how to safely re-open. And liability protections are needed for the extraordinary business leaders who are transitioning operations to help meet the demands of the virus, including: manufacturers changing plants and capacity to make sanitizers, face masks, face shields, medical clothing, etc.; hotels pivoting to house medical workers, patients, and the homeless; and convention centers and other mobile sites becoming medical facilities.
Property casualty insurers have always been a part of solving some of the greatest challenges facing America, especially during times of major catastrophes. Let’s all work together toward recovery.