(Reuters) – Insurers are creating products for a world where virus outbreaks could become the new normal after many businesses were left out in the cold during the COVID-19 crisis.
While new pandemic-proof policies might not be cheap, they offer businesses from restaurants to film production companies to e-commerce retailers ways of insuring against disruptions and losses if another virus strikes.
The providers include big insurers and brokers adding new products to existing coverage, as well as niche players that see an opportunity in filling the void left by mainstream firms that categorize virus outbreaks like wars or nuclear explosions.
Tech firm Machine Cover, for example, aims to offer policies next year that would give relief during lockdowns. Using apps and other data sources, the Boston-based company measures traffic levels around businesses such as restaurants, department stores, hairdressers and car dealers.
If traffic drops below a certain level, it pays out, whatever the reason.
“This is the type of coverage which … businesses thought they had paid for when they bought their current business interruption policies before the coronavirus pandemic,” the company’s founder Inder-Jeet Gujral told Reuters.
“I believe this will be a major opportunity because post-COVID, it would be as irresponsible to not buy insurance against pandemics as it would be to not buy insurance against fire.”
The company is backed by insurer Hiscox and individual investors, mostly from the insurance and private equity world.
Restaurants in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, where Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Monday ordered dining to shut down soon after reopening, are now reeling, said Andrew Giambarba, a broker for Insurance Office of America in Doral, Florida.
“It’s been like they made it to the ninth round of the fight and were holding on when this punch came out of nowhere,” said Giambarba, whose clients include restaurants that did not get payouts under their business interruption coverage.
“Every niche that is dealing with insurance that is affected by business interruption needs every new product they can have.”
Filling the void
Pandemic exemptions have helped some insurers emerge relatively unscathed and the sector has largely resisted pressure to provide more virus cover. Indeed, some insurers that paid out for event cancellations and other losses have removed pandemics from their coverage.
British risk managers association Airmic said last week that the pandemic had contributed to a lack of adequate insurance at an affordable price and most of its members were looking at other ways to reduce risk.
To help fill the void in a locked-down world, Lloyd’s of London insurer Beazley Plc BEZG.L, started selling a contingency policy last month to insure organisers of streamed music, cultural and business events against technical glitches.
“These events are completely reliant on the technology working and a failure can be financially crippling,” said Mark Symons, contingency underwriter at Beazley.
Marsh, the world’s biggest insurance broker, has teamed up with AXA XL, part of France’s AXA (AXAF.PA), and data firm Arity, which is part of Allstate, to help businesses such as U.S. supermarket chains, restaurants and e-commerce retailers cope with the challenges of social distancing.
With home deliveries surging, firms have hired individual drivers to meet demand, but commercial auto liability insurance for “gig” contractors with their own vehicles is hard to find.
Marsh and its partners devised a policy based on usage with a price-by-mile insurance, which can be cheaper than typical commercial auto cover as delivering a pizza doesn’t have the same risks as driving people around.
“Even when the pandemic is over, we believe last-mile delivery will continue to grow,” said Robert Bauer, head of Marsh’s U.S. sharing economy and mobility practice.
A report by consultants Capgemini showed that demand for usage-based insurance has skyrocketed since COVID-19 first broke out and more than 50% of the customers it surveyed wanted it.
However, only half of the insurers interviewed by Capgemini for its World Insurance Report said they offered it.
Since businesses are only now learning how outbreaks can affect them, some new products are effectively custom-made.
Elite Risk Insurance in Newport Beach, California, has been offering “COVID outbreak relapse coverage” since May for businesses forced to shut down a second time, its founder Jeff Kleid said.
The policies are crafted around specific businesses and only pay out when certain conditions are met, Kleid said.
For film and television production companies that could be when a cast member contracts the virus, forcing them to stop shooting. Another client, which raises livestock for restaurants, is covered for a scenario in which it would be impossible to get animal feed.
Such policies do not come cheap. A $1 million policy could cost between about $80,000 to $100,000 depending on the terms.
“The insurance … is costly because it covers a risk that does not have a historical basis for calculating the price,” Kleid says.
And in March, when COVID-19 ravaged northern Italy, Generali’s (GASI.MI) Europ Assistance offered medical help, financial support and teleconsultations for sufferers when discharged from hospital, on top of regular health insurance.
It sold 1.5 million policies in just two weeks and now has 3 million customers in Europe and United States.
Some insurers are also working on changes to employee compensation and health insurance schemes. With millions of workers not expected to return to offices anytime soon, some large insurers in Asia are preparing coverage to account for that, according to people familiar with those efforts.
At least one Japanese insurer has started work on a product to cover employees for injury while working at home, they said.
“Working from home will be the new normal for years to come. That would make the scope of the employee compensation scheme meaningless if a person suffers an injury while at home,” said a Hong Kong-based senior executive at a European insurer.
Reporting and photo: Reuters
Atmosphere Core expands in South Asia with Atmosphere Living ultra-luxury residences
Atmosphere Core, a globally renowned name in hospitality, has announced the launch of Atmosphere Living as part of its continued expansion in South Asia. Headquartered in India, this new company will offer branded ultra-luxury residences with customised end-to-end amenities and indulgences, including coffee lounges, wine cellars, private transport, and bespoke concierge services.
The global branded residences market has experienced a remarkable 150 percent growth over the past decade, and projections indicate a surge in demand. With the real estate veteran Sandeep Ahuja at the helm as Managing Director, Atmosphere Living is strategically positioned to capitaliSe on this demand.
Atmosphere Living will focus on a conscious design philosophy. All properties will be built in harmony with the environment and will incorporate features such as smart recycling, efficient waste and water management, and green energy solutions.
Sharing his insights on the launch, Salil Panigrahi, Managing Director, Atmosphere Core, said, “Atmosphere Living will bring a distinctive offering to India, and is a brand to watch out for. It will combine Ahuja’s decades of experience, knowledge, and industry network in real estate with Atmosphere’s hospitality expertise, introducing unparalleled serviced residences in India.”
Positioned in major metropolitan areas, established second-home destinations, and undiscovered scenic locales nationwide, these projects will also present lucrative investment opportunities. Elite homeowners will have the option to lease their residences back to Atmosphere Living, allowing them to be rented out for income generation.
Sandeep Ahuja, Managing Director, Atmosphere Living, said, “There is currently a gap in the Indian realty landscape for ultra-indulgent serviced homes catering to affluent consumers. We aim to bridge this gap by curating serviced homes that offer indulgences such as entering homes using smart key cards, 24/7 butler services, fine dining, and co-working spaces, among others. Our ultimate desire is to enable our customers to experience a life of true luxury and exclusivity.”
A night of celestial wonders, luxury, and cosmic inspiration at Anantara Kihavah SKY Observatory by British astronaut Tim Peake
Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas celebrated a historic milestone with the exclusive visit of the renowned British astronaut, Tim Peake. On the evening of November 2, Astronaut Peake hosted an exclusive space talk at SKY Observatory, the finest overwater observatory in the Indian Ocean, housing the most powerful telescope in the Maldives.
Perched gracefully over the pristine Maldivian waters, SKY Observatory provided an idyllic setting for this extraordinary event, complemented by a stunning sunset. The exclusive gathering attracted a full house of eager guests to a delightful evening that seamlessly blended science, luxury, and natural beauty.
The evening commenced with a lovely cocktail reception, where guests were serenaded by the soulful tunes of a live saxophone band. Attendees savoured exquisite cocktails and canapés as they eagerly awaited Tim Peake’s presentation.
Tim Peake’s talk unveiled his personal journey, where he shared his path to becoming an astronaut and narrated the rigorous training that astronauts undergo. He provided insights into life in space, the daily challenges faced by astronauts, and the awe-inspiring experiences he encountered during his
historic mission. He also offered a glimpse into his exciting future projects, leaving the audience both inspired and spellbound.
Following Tim’s presentation, an interactive Q&A session allowed guests to engage directly with the British astronaut. The audience posed thoughtful questions, deepening their understanding of astronauts’ unique experiences and the intricacies of space exploration.
The event was further enriched by the presence of the resort’s three SKY gurus, Hammadh Rasheed, Zunnoon Ahmed, and Ali Arushal, who conducted a stargazing session for the guests afterward.
The success of the event was evident in the overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees, who left with a deeper appreciation for space exploration and a memorable evening to cherish.
The evening marked a significant moment in Anantara Kihavah’s history, showcasing the resort’s commitment to offering unique and memorable experiences for its guests. The presence of Tim Peake, a celebrated astronaut and highly accomplished author, added an extraordinary dimension to the resort’s already spectacular offerings.
Tim Peake is a renowned British astronaut who made history as the first official British astronaut to visit the International Space Station (ISS) and conduct a spacewalk during his six-month mission. He also achieved the remarkable feat of running the London Marathon from space. Beyond his extraordinary space endeavours, Tim is also a bestselling author with his most recent book Space: A thrilling human history published earlier this month.
An astronomer’s paradise, Baa Atoll in the Maldives, is one of the best places on earth to enjoy stargazing due to its proximity to the equator. Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas promises a voyage of discovery on a private Indian Ocean Island, with Sky—an overwater observatory and luxury cocktail bar—providing guests a chance to sip champagne under the stars and explore the Universe.
Visit Maldives website adds atolls segment to showcase diverse regions
Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation’s (MMPRC/ Visit Maldives) has added a new segment to the official Visit Maldives Website specified for atolls showcasing the diversity of the Maldives.
The segment, now live at atolls.visitmaldives.com provides in depth information regarding the different regions of the Maldives, divided by atolls, to refine the traveller’s experience, commencing with an in-depth exploration of Addu Atoll and Fuvahmulah Atoll.
With 26 atolls, the Maldives offers a wide array of unique accommodations and awe-inspiring travel experiences, and this informative section of our website will serve as a gateway to discover the hidden treasures unique to each area. This falls under MMPRC’s initiatives to encourage tourism growth in all regions of the Maldives, broadening exposure to the diverse tourism products available in the Maldives.
The goal is to elevate Visit Maldives’ digital marketing landscape by showcasing the Maldives as more than just a honeymoon destination with various accommodation options. This initiative is driven by a desire to increase awareness about the distinctive offerings within each of the Maldives’ atolls. It aims to positively shape their perception of the Sunny Side of Life brand by curating engaging content that highlights the unique features of the atolls and diverse experiences available in the islands.
Additionally, the initiative will target the affordable luxury market to promote the Maldives as the most appealing option for short holidays and weekend getaways under a unified Maldives brand umbrella.
MMPRC aims to continue exploring other atolls in the Maldives as well, encouraging growth and tourism development in all regions of the Maldives, building on the foundation we have created to promote the destination beyond the traditional paradigms of sun, sand, and sea.
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