Mactavish calls it a “PR gimmick”; says the ”sector has failed in its response to coronavirus” 

UK insurance industry leaders have combined to form a steering group, which will work with terrorism risk insurance backstop Pool Re, with the primary objective of strengthening its response to future pandemics. 

Chaired by Stephen Catlin (chairman and CEO, Convex), other members of the group include : Maurice Tulloch (CEO, Aviva), Stephen Hester (CEO, RSA), Julian Enoizi (CEO, Pool Re), Nick Frankland (UK CEO Reinsurance Solutions, Aon), James Nash (CEO, International, Guy Carpenter) and James Kent (CEO, Willis Re). 

Stephen Catlin said: “The insurance industry needs to be on the front foot in the current situation, paying claims quickly and continuing to provide people and businesses with the protection they require. Most importantly we need to find an industry solution for future pandemics and this group has many years of combined industry experience.”

PR gimmick

But there has been criticism of the move. Insurance and claims consultancy Mactavish believes the sterring group will become little more than a “PR gimmick”.

Bruce Hepburn, CEO, Mactavish said: “In terms of pandemics, SARS and MERS means the industry has had ‘trial runs’ to learn from, but still it failed to make itself sufficiently relevant to this crisis.

“The sector has failed in its response to coronavirus and by the time this new steering group makes any recommendations, thousands of businesses will have gone bust. It’s a cynical ploy to help draw attention away from its failings unless it focuses more on how it can help right now.

“The steering group’s current membership consists solely of insurance professionals, meaning it’s a little like marking your own homework. Will they really hold the industry to account and shine a proper light on its failings and make the radical recommendations for change that the sector needs, or will they simply pass the buck on to the government?”

“Why wasn’t this group formed to look at this risk after SARS, MERS and the other trial runs the World has had? This problem needs to be solved by a new generation of people with a different perspective on the role of insurance in society”.

Mactavish says that the problems which have been laid bare during the crisis are not new. A long-term focus on price over value of cover has led to considerable erosion of insurance contract quality, growing opacity around broker fee structures and an increasing one-size-fits-all approach to complex risks.