Welcome to iLeads Insurance Market Minute, where we bring you the latest, most relevant news regarding the insurance market. Last week you were reading Lemonade CEO On The Company’s Quarterly Earnings And New Offerings. This week we’re bringing you:
LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman on taking home insurer Hippo public via SPAC*
CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” team is joined by Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder and chairman, and Hippo CEO Assaf Wand to discuss how Hoffman is involved in taking Hippo public via a SPAC deal.
What is driving growth in the E&S insurance market?*
The excess and surplus (E&S) lines market in the United States is booming. Total surplus lines premium reported to the 15 stamping offices across the country was $41.7 billion for the calendar year 2020, representing a 14.9% increase over the $37.5 billion reported in 2019.
According to the 2020 Annual Report of the US Surplus Lines Service and Stamping Offices, each of the 15 stamping offices reported premium growth in 2020, with 11 states reporting double-digit percentage increases. Despite this premium growth, total filings (item counts) decreased by 63,299, or 1.3%, from the prior year – something that Dan Maher, executive director of the Excess Lines Association of New York, attributed to “headwinds due to economic conditions resulting from COVID-19”.
There was a confluence of factors driving growth in the E&S market prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of these factors still exist today, according to Bryan Sanders (pictured above), president of Markel Specialty. Speaking on the executive panel at the Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA) Underwriting Summit 2021, Sanders identified several market drivers, including tightening market conditions (rate increases, stricter coverage terms and conditions, and reduced capacity); the low-interest-rate environment, which is challenging insurers’ underwriting profitability; social inflation and increased claims costs; more frequent severe weather events; and a big question mark over the country’s economy.
Insurers win restaurants’ COVID-19 cases*
Federal courts in Massachusetts and Arizona have ruled in favor of insurers in COVID-19 business interruption litigation filed by restaurants, holding in both cases the plaintiffs had not provided evidence of physical damage.
Legal Sea Foods LLC, a 34-restaurant Boston-based chain, filed suit against its insurer, New York-based Strathmore Insurance Co., a unit of the Greater New York Group, in May.
It said Strathmore had refused to pay business interruption expense in connection with the coronavirus pandemic even though its policy was issued in March, when the pandemic was already widely acknowledged, and that the coverage did not include a virus exclusion.
It filed an amended complaint in September, in which it alleged COVID-19’s actual presence, according to Friday’s ruling by the U.S. District Court in Boston in Legal Sea Foods, LLC v. Strathmore Insurance Co.
“Legal does not plausibly allege that its business interruption losses resulted from the presence of COVID-19 at the Designated Properties,” the ruling said. “Instead, it indicates in the (amended complaint) that ‘(t)he Orders caused and are continuing to cause’ the losses for which it claims entitlement to coverage.”
The ruling said also, that “even if Legal had properly alleged that COVID-19 caused business interruption losses due to its presence at the Designated Properties, it would not be entitled to coverage under the policy.
“Courts in Massachusetts have had occasion to interpret the phrase ‘direct physical loss’ and have done so narrowly, concluding that it requires some kind of tangible, material loss,” the ruling said.
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