Fitch warns of increased hurricane challenges

  • Added challenge: a major hurricane this year such as Hurricane Maria, which caused devastation across Puerto Rico in 2017, will come with added challenges during the pandemic (File photograph by Gerald Herbert/AP)

    Added challenge: a major hurricane this year such as Hurricane Maria, which caused devastation across Puerto Rico in 2017, will come with added challenges during the pandemic (File photograph by Gerald Herbert/AP)


Challenges arising from a major hurricane will be compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, analysts have warned.

Fitch Ratings, in its annual hurricane season report, said the added complications would be a headache for insurers already seeing an impact from the coronavirus.

“In the event of a major hurricane landfall in 2020, property insurers’ claims assessment and settlement expertise will be tested by reductions in economic activity and mobility resulting from public policy efforts to combat the pandemic,” said Christopher Grimes, director, Fitch Ratings.

“Typical disaster response practices to prevent injuries and losses from an oncoming storm, including evacuation and mass sheltering plans will need to be re-evaluated in light of public health concerns.”

Meteorological forecasting teams expect above-average hurricane activity this year. Natural catastrophe losses, particularly severe hurricane-related events, represent a major source of loss volatility to property and casualty insurers, and one isolated large hurricane could have a significant effect on industry capital.

Fitch has a negative sector outlook on the property and casualty insurance and global reinsurance sectors, reflecting coronavirus uncertainty and near-term market conditions and profitability challenges.

“Potential effects on capital and operating challenges related to the pandemic add incremental vulnerability to insurers from near-term catastrophe events,” Fitch said.

“Still, industry capital strength remains very strong, providing most individual re/insurers with an ability to absorb near-term large insured losses.”

Fitch pointed out that insurers are being paid more to take on catastrophe risk this year.

“Pricing remains favourable on US hurricane-exposed primary property business, reflecting heightened loss activity in recent years,” the rating agency said.

“In the reinsurance market, pricing has experienced considerable firming at the midyear 2020 reinsurance renewals, reflecting heightened risk in the region, recent adverse loss experience and reductions in available capacity on offer.”

The report, US Hurricane Season 2020: A Desk Reference for Insurance Investors, is available at fitchratings.com.

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Published Jun 2, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 2, 2020 at 8:04 am)

Fitch warns of increased hurricane challenges

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