Editor's comment: 2020 a year of uncertainty


Humans are not designed to cope well with uncertainty.

This year has been a pretty tough year for all and we now wait to see how effective vaccines currently in the labs will be on a virus that has had a global effect. 

Insurers prefer to think of themselves as taking the uncertainty away for their customers – after all they like nothing more that facts and data in their hands. Yet as we count down to what should be the happiest time of the year, they are biting their nails over at least three major unknowns.

They and small businesses are watching to see what the Supreme Court will decide in the Financial Conduct Authority’s test business interruption case.

Lords Reed, Briggs, Hamblen, Hodge and Leggatt have pledged to deliver a decision as soon as possible with Lord Reed saying: “We are aware of the practical importance of the judgement and will work as quickly as we can but we cannot say if it will be before Christmas or in January.” The original judgment found in favour of policyholders on the majority of issues raised but will the Supreme Court agree?

At the same time insurers are awaiting a final decision on dual pricing. Inaction from the industry on its own has meant the FCA has pushed the ‘nuclear option’ and gone for what the interim CEO described as “probably the most radical shake-up of the general insurance industry in years”, by offering its most recent proposal of a ban on price-walking. Will this be the final action when this consultation ends in January 2021?

Finally, the sector is waiting on the Ministry of Justice for the details of the whiplash portal before its go live date in April 2021. As always, the devil is in the detail and insurers feel they don’t know what resources to allocate until they can see what the rules, tariffs and potential disagreement areas are.

This year has seen so many seismic events that Oxford Dictionaries has expanded its word of the year to encompass several “words of an unprecedented year”.

The words are chosen to reflect 2020’s ethos and include bushfires, Covid-19, WFH, lockdown, circuit-breaker, support bubbles, keyworkers, furlough, Black Lives Matter and moonshot.

For insurers though, this year certainly ends with the word uncertainty.

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