Fire and explosion, natural catastrophes and faulty workmanship or maintenance have been the major causes of loss by value of insurance claims over the past five years, according to the Global Claims Review 2022 from Allianz Global Corporate & Speciality (AGCS).
“Insurance claims from companies have become more severe over the past five years due to factors such as higher property and asset values, more complex supply chains and the growing concentration of exposures in one location, such as in natural catastrophe-prone areas,” says AGCS Chief Claims Officer and Board Member Thomas Sepp. “The future does not look brighter anytime soon. Companies and their insurers have shown resilience to weather the loss impact of the pandemic, but the ongoing war in Ukraine, a spike in the cost and frequency of business interruption losses and the sustained elevated level of cyber claims are creating new challenges. At the same time, the top two causes of claims, fires and natural hazards, remain significant loss drivers for companies.”
The review also stated that inflation puts pressure on claims costs from multiple angles. Property and construction insurance claims, are exposed to higher inflation, as rebuilds and repairs are linked to the cost of materials and labour, while shortages and longer delivery times inflate business interruption (BI) value. Other lines of insurance, such as directors and officers, professional indemnity and general liability, are also susceptible to inflationary pressures through using legal defence costs and higher settlements.
Thomas Sepp noted that, “replacement costs more and replacement takes longer, and this means both the property damage and the business interruption loss are likely to be significantly higher. Updating insured values for all new contracts is therefore a pressing concern for insurers, brokers and insureds. If this doesn’t happen, our clients run the risk of not being fully reimbursed in the event of a loss, while insurers run the risk of under-pricing exposures. The insurance market has already seen a number of claims where there has been a significant gap between the insured’s declared value and the actual replacement value.”
AGCS comprehensive analyses has identified the top causes of loss for companies from more than 530,000 insurance claims in over 200 countries and territories that it has been involved with between 2017 and 2021 (typically a number of insurers provide coverage jointly considering the huge values at stake in the corporate sector). These claims have an approximate value of €88.7bn, which means that the insurance companies involved have paid out – on average – over €48mn every day for five years to cover losses.
The analysis shows that almost 75% of financial losses arise from the top 10 causes of loss, while the top three causes account for close to half (45%) of the value. Despite improvements in risk management and fire prevention, fire/explosion (excluding wildfires) is the largest single identified cause of corporate insurance losses, accounting for 21% of the value of all claims. Fires have resulted in more than €18bn worth of insurance claims over five years, according to the analysis. Even the average claim totals around €1.5mn.
Natural catastrophes (15%) ranks as the second top cause of loss globally by value of claims. Collectively, the top five causes (based on more than 20,000 claims around the world) – hurricanes/tornados (29%); storm (19%); flood (14%); frost/ice/snow (9%) and earthquake/tsunami (6%) account for 77% of the value of all disaster claims. Hurricanes and tornados are the most expensive cause of loss, driven by the fact that two of the past five Atlantic hurricane seasons (2017 and 2021) now rank among the three most active and costliest on record, as well as recent record-breaking tornado activity.
The other top 10 causes of loss are: aviation collision/crash (#4; 9%), machinery breakdown (#5; 5%), defective product (#6; 5%), shipping incidents (#7; 3%), damaged goods (#8; 3%), negligence/mis advice (#9; 2%) and water damage (#10; 2%). While not appearing in the top 10 causes of loss, the number of cyber claims has significantly increased over the past few years, driven by the rise of threats such as ransomware attacks, but also reflecting the growth of cyber insurance. AGCS has been involved in more than 1,000 cyber claims in both 2020 and 2021, compared with fewer than 100 in 2016. Claims frequency has begun to stabilize however, albeit at elevated levels.