Insurance Trade Body Sets Up Claims Group Amid Pandemic

By Martin Croucher
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Law360, London (December 18, 2020, 1:04 PM GMT) -- An insurance trade body has made permanent a committee for claims bosses that was initially set up on an ad hoc basis to monitor industry developments during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The International Underwriting Association said Friday that the so-called claims strategy committee has now been adapted to "cover wider claims issues beyond the current crisis."

The committee was set up informally in April in response to the coronavirus pandemic, meeting sometimes monthly and sometimes each week, a spokesperson for the association said.

"At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic the IUA convened meetings for claims directors across a number of different business classes to help monitor fast-moving developments," Chris Jones, director of legal and market services at the association, said. "This initiative clearly demonstrated the benefit of operating a senior market group."

Insurers came under fire early in the pandemic for what appeared to be a blanket refusal to pay out on claims for business interruption made by companies forced to close during the first lockdown in March.

That refusal prompted the Financial Conduct Authority to intervene, as it brought legal action against eight insurers with a representative sample of 21 policy wordings. The final Supreme Court ruling in the test case is expected to come in January, the FCA confirmed last week.

Lloyd's of London said in May that insurers globally would probably pay out $107 billion in claims linked to the pandemic, which it said was equivalent to catastrophe losses from 2017, when Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria struck.

The new IUA committee is open to senior claims bosses at companies that are members of the association. Some 16 companies discussed the next stage of the Lloyd's of London modernization program, known as Blueprint Two, at its first formal meeting on Dec. 4.

Jones said the committee will provide "technical input" to the claims reforms proposed by the governing corporation of the specialist insurance market. Lloyd's is proposing a digital claims platform for the second phase of its transformation project, replacing the largely paper-based systems that have been used for most of its 330-year history.

The committee will meet quarterly but a second meeting is already scheduled for January amid the interest in the work surrounding Blueprint Two, an IUA spokesperson added.

--Editing by Ed Harris.

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