Not too long ago, Black Friday was synonymous with viral internet videos of deranged deal hunters elbowing their way through crowds and wrestling over 55-inch TVs and the latest tech gadgets. Last week you were reading Insurance Rate Hikes Expected To Moderate As Capacity Rises. This week we’re bringing you:
The state of the workers’ comp marketplace heading into 2022*
The workers’ compensation market has remained strong and resilient throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, riding on the tailwinds of several years of unparalleled positive results. Despite the global health and economic crisis causing considerable challenges for businesses of all sizes and sectors, workers’ compensation insurers generally managed to pivot their operations, stay healthy, and maintain profitability.
“The market is stable right now, and prices are fairly moderate,” said Matt Zender (pictured), senior vice president, workers’ compensation strategy at AmTrust Financial Services. There are some examples of certain industry segments where a risk might see a small rate increase at renewal, but those are the exception. For the most part, if a risk has performed well or is in an industry segment that’s been relatively benign from a COVID perspective, they’re seeing year-over-year flat rates or rate decreases right now. Good business is still seeing a reasonable renewal offer.”
At the height of the pandemic-related lockdowns and widespread work-from-home orders, there were some concerns that there would be disruption or delays in workers’ compensation claims adjudication and settlement. Certainly, there was a backlog in the US court system, so any serious workers’ compensation claims that triggered legal proceedings or appeals were of particular concern.
But claims data appears to show that claims worked their way through the system at around the same pace as they did before the pandemic, according to Zender, which helped to maintain market stability. In fact, the ability for adjusters to deal with certain less-complex claims actually sped up, the AmTrust SVP added, while other aspects of the business slowed. Overall, the industry has managed to maintain claim closure rates throughout COVID that are on par with the pre-pandemic norm.
“For a while when COVID first hit, the industry saw a dramatic reduction in claims,” Zender told Insurance Business. “From March 2020 until the time that states started introducing COVID-19 presumption laws, there was a period where the level of claims coming in was much lower because people either weren’t working at all or they were working remotely.
“A workers’ compensation claims adjuster typically works a desk, and they may have 100+ claims that they’re working on at any one time, and their ability to get to certain things is often predicated on the number of claims that are coming into them. In the early days of the pandemic, they didn’t have as many claims coming into them, so they were able to clean up and resolve outstanding items.”
Insurtech sector continues to draw capital, investors*
A robust supply of capital combined with growing ranks of new investors is driving record investment into the insurtech sector.
Funding for insurtech ventures continues to grow, with many technology companies favoring partnerships with incumbent insurers and brokers over the previous trend of new entrants seeking to operate as disrupters, observers say.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred change and investment.
Thomas Mason, senior research analyst in Charlottesville, Virginia, for S&P Global Market Intelligence, a division of S&P Global Inc., said the insurtech sector provides an attractive alternative for investors.
“There is tons of private venture capital floating around in the system and it has to go to work somewhere,” he said.
“There is no shortage of capital looking for a home in the insurtech space,” said Andrew Johnston, Nashville, Tennessee-based global head of insurtech at Willis Re, a unit of Willis Towers Watson PLC. In addition to established insurtech investors, the sector continues to attract growing numbers of new investors, he said.
According to Willis Towers Watson data, in 2012 an estimated 153 venture investors put capital into businesses that self-identified with the label “insurtech,” he said. By 2014, the number had nearly doubled to 278 venture investors, by 2016 it nearly doubled again to 511, and so far in 2021 an estimated 1,118 venture investors have invested in insurtech, which is almost 7.5 times the 2012 estimate.
How can insurers tap into the Black Friday consumer culture?*
Not too long ago, Black Friday was synonymous with viral internet videos of deranged deal hunters elbowing their way through crowds and wrestling over 55-inch TVs and the latest tech gadgets.
Then came COVID-19 and Black Friday turned into a more civilized affair, at least on the surface, but really the same old consumerist aggression was there. It was just hidden behind laptop screens, mobile phones, and furious mouse clicking to snatch time-sensitive deals and refresh timed-out web pages.
Black Friday of 2021 – which officially landed on November 26, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States – was a mixed bag depending on the local pandemic restrictions.
One thing was clear. Gone are the days (at least temporarily) of stores reaching maximum capacity and frenzied shoppers pushing and shoving each other to grab goods. While the full picture of Black Friday 2021 likely won’t materialize until early next year, Bloomberg reported that crowds were thinner compared to pre-pandemic Black Fridays, demand was brisk, and shopping was more spread out than in the past.
Perhaps that’s a lingering impact of the COVID-induced social distancing. If so, it’s something that I wouldn’t mind sticking around for good.
With in-store crowds thinner than usual, one might expect additional hordes of online shoppers – similar to Black Friday 2020, when most physical stores were shut down or open at limited capacity due to the pandemic. But again, there have been reports of the day “losing its online mojo”, as reported by cnet.com, due to retailers offering deals earlier in the holiday season.
I think it could also be a case of online fatigue after consumers have had to do everything digitally for almost two years.
Finding highly affordable leads to keep sales coming in
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