This week: Following the herd

cows in a field

After sunny weekend scenes of revelers and holidaymakers, packed out tubes and stockpiling shoppers, at the start of this week the UK finally entered something vaguely resembling a lockdown.

While people acted like swarms of grazing cattle, all mentions of herd immunity were quietly dropped. According to the latest advice from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his advisers everyone should stay home so far as possible.

However, people can continue to exercise, pick up booze (it will have been music to some ears that off licenses are indeed allowed to remain open), pop to the shop and visit the pharmacist.

Everyone should try to get groceries delivered where possible, despite services being fully booked up weeks in advance.

Meanwhile we have welcomed an abundance of clarity as all but key workers were told to stay indoors.

In addition to vital service providers you’d expect such as nurses, doctors, paramedics, teachers, carers, transport workers, engineers, supermarket workers and delivery drivers, this also extends to some financial services staff and at the start of the week appeared to include – for those in the gainful employment of Waterstones or Sports Direct –  booksellers and sports merchandise retailers.

The government has been doing all it can for workers, with equal treatment paramount; yesterday afternoon it threw a lifeline to the self-employed. Apparently in a bizarre and unpredictable twist of fate, without equivalent help to what people with employers can expect, many had felt they had no choice but to keep going to work.

Self-employed people who currently feel compelled to work will no doubt feel incredibly grateful for the impending grant, particularly as it will speedily be making its way into their pockets in June by which point it won’t matter anymore because Andrex will be the new currency. Until then, the friendly face of Universal Credit beckons.

As expected, coronavirus continued to dominate headlines while the country attempts to get to grips with the crisis.

Association of British Insurers director general, Huw Evans, faces Treasury Committee questions on insurers’ responses to the pandemic.

Ratings agencies are assessing the impact of the virus on insurers’ balance sheets.

Both Airmic and the British Insurance Brokers’ Association’s annual conferences have been affected, with Biba cancelling outright.

Gender pay gap reporting has also been suspended, which may well save the industry – and financial services more widely – yet another dressing down later this year.

In slightly more positive news, insurers are not expected to penalise motorists who make the most of the government’s six-month MOT exemption. And Johnny Valentine, chief technology officer at Thingco, launched a platform to help connect people to those in need of assistance during the crisis.

Lloyd’s CEO John Neal reflected on products and the pandemic as the organisation steamed to profit, albeit on the back of investment returns. The corporation posted a combined operating ratio of 102.1%.

From Joe Wicks to emergency leave, insurers told Post they’ve been tackling the working from home challenge head on, as staff adjust to unusual desk mates.

And our three-part series looked at how insurtechs across the globe are facing up to coronavirus.

Even in these difficult times, business and life must go on. Outside of coronavirus news the top stories included the sale of Kingsbridge to NSM Insurance; Ardonagh’s 2019 results, and Danish unrated insurer Gefion being ordered to cease writing business.

In blogs, Eversheds Sutherlands’ Simon Brooks noted how the devil is in the detail when it comes to coronavirus cover. Headspace for Work’s James McErlean addressed anxiety and leading with compassion.

In our C-suite column, LV boss Steve Treloar reflected on a busy start to 2020 and delivering better outcomes for customers.

To celebrate 180 years of Post we’ve been looking back at the history of the insurance industry. Premium subscribers can delve into our deep dive piece on war and terrorism cover in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Stay safe, stay strong and stay at least two metres away at all times.

Signing off for the week,

Jen Frost
News editor, Insurance Post
@JenInsurance

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