Munich Re says state and insurers must work together in pandemic

The world’s biggest re-insurance company, Munich Re, wants closer cooperation between insurers and the state in order to bolster defences against heavy losses during pandemics, the company’s chief executive told dpa on Monday.

“State and insurers can and should come to agreement on who is liable in future lockdowns, to what extent and how exactly,” Joachim Wenning said.

The sweeping restrictions seen in the past few months have led to several disputes over issues between companies and their insurers.

“The discussion surrounding coronavirus is essentially centred on the question of to what extent lockdown-related work stoppages are covered by property insurance,” Wenning said.

“In some cases, this is the case, in others not. Because this protection is expensive, it has also rarely been bought from us directly,” he added.

Wenning’s proposal is a pre-set limit: “The insurance sector agrees to offer up to a set amount of insurance protection for a future lockdown.”

There would be a “corresponding risk premium” in return, the manager, who has led Munich Re since 2017, suggested.

“If the amount is exceeded, the state could step in – but on the condition that the company has insured itself,” he added.

Such a model would create a healthy incentive structure and achieve a broad impact that does not exist today, Wenning said.

“And it would be transparent: Everyone would know what is covered and what is not. In other words: Those who vaccinate themselves would receive the necessary backing from insurance companies and the state if things got serious. We provide the vaccine for the economy.”

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