In this article, Axco assesses the global impact of the coronavirus on a country-by-country basis below.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has been hitting the headlines in earnest since the beginning of 2020. The first case was reported in late December 2019 in Wuhan, China but can now even be traced to as early as November 2019. Since then, it has impacted nearly every country around the world, with reported confirmed cases now passing three million globally.

In March 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reluctantly classed it as a pandemic resulting in many countries entering lockdown to try and combat the spread.

With many businesses adapting their strategy by implementing work-from-home policies or furlough protocol, they still have bills to deal with - which includes insurance.

Companies must still pay for compulsory insurance covers such as employers’ liability, public liability and commercial motor. Some event companies are appealing to their insurers for abandonment claims due to cancellation of events, putting pressure on the no different insurance industry.

Around the world, insurers are trying to carry on business as usual, servicing clients in the same way whilst maintaining precautionary measures.

How have countries responded around the world?

Insurance regulators throughout the world have been urging insurers to amend their stances on a variety of procedures. Let's take a look at some of them now:

In the UK, Thailand and Hong Kong, to name a few, insurers have closed their offices and are operating remotely to keep both their staff and customers safe.

However, where this is not a possibility due to insurers being considered key operations, such as in Paraguay, insurers are being encouraged to maintain skeleton staff for essential operational areas.

In Seychelles, the FSA (Financial Services Authority) is operating with a rotational team of skeleton staff to maintain the regulation of insurers.

In the Dominican Republic, Malaysia and the USA, insurers are being encouraged to seek alternative procedures when it comes to sending policy documents or regulatory documents, primarily via electronic means.

Grace periods on premium payments are being encouraged on various policies from motor to corporate property in countries such as Belgium, Egypt, India, Philippines, Puerto Rico and Russia, particularly those where the businesses have been forced to stop operating due to Government guidelines. Policies cancelled due to non-payment during the various states of emergencies are being encouraged to be reinstated without any additional fees being charged.

In the Philippines, insurers are being obligated to extend renewals which fall between a specified period during the country’s lockdown. However, this is only where the policyholder has either consented to the extension or requested via a written request.

Similarly, in Oman, insurers are encouraged to provide cover to vehicles with expired driving licences in consideration of the suspension of licence renewal services.

In Portugal, MOTs are being extended resulting in insurers being informed that this will have no legal consequence or impact on the vehicle owner’s policy.

In Ireland, not only are grace periods being encouraged, but insurers are also being encouraged to reduce premiums for select classes of insurance as the exposure level has been reduced. Unoccupied buildings cover is to be maintained, both of these are on the proviso that terms and conditions of the policy are met.

Claim periods are also being relaxed within certain countries with the encouragement to help speed up the process of settling COVID-19 related claims. In India, complaints received after a set date are being given a 21-day redressal and in Turkey, claims are to be assessed remotely to help prevent any spread of the virus.

In Trinidad & Tobago and Tunisia, extensions are being offered on the issuance of policy documents such as certificates and registration transfers to assist during each countries lockdowns.

It is not just policyholders that are benefiting from the regulators' change of procedures. Insurers in certain countries are being offered an extension or derogation of both corporate and accounting duties such as compiling annual reports which are now also to be sent electronically. Annual General Meetings are being offered either an extension or the opportunity to be held via video calls with face-to-face meetings being barred until it is deemed safe for all involved.

In Thailand, guidelines are to be issued for complaints, dispute resolution and arbitration procedures due to the pandemic and the United Kingdom’s tribunal process is also been amended on a temporary basis.

However, not all countries are benefiting from the revisions, in Vietnam, insurers have been prohibited from either selling or launching any COVID-19 related products and are even prohibited from using images of the virus.

Although no one knows what the after-effects from this pandemic will be, it is clear that insurers are trying to do all that they can to help their clients during these unprecedented times with new amendments to regulations and laws seen daily from around the world.

The insurance industry is taking steps to adapt to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, but what is still to come? Stay on top of the latest industry changes with the ever-changing legislation around the world with Axco.