The French government is looking at ways to shield companies from the impact of future pandemics.
The goal is to protect companies and jobs from the damage that major events such as pandemics can cause, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in a statement. A working group consisting of lawmakers and industry representatives came up with a range of solutions on developing insurance coverage for such catastrophes, and Le Maire sought public comment on its proposals to inform the government’s work on the issue.
The government plans to complete work on a coverage plan by the end of the year. French companies have suffered 147 billion euros ($168 billion) of operating losses during the coronavirus outbreak, according to the statement on Thursday.
The government’s efforts come as French insurers are facing a public backlash over their handling of companies’ claims related to losses suffered during the lockdown. AXA SA found itself in the spotlight when its dispute with a Paris-based restaurant landed in court. After losing that lawsuit, the insurer agreed to cover losses sustained by several hundred restaurants.
Lloyd’s of London has led the industry’s call for the creation of new insurance policies and government-backed funds to protect against future pandemics and global threats. The world’s largest insurance market proposed a new type of policy that would cover revenue lost during a lockdown when businesses are ordered to close.
Some European countries have also said they’ll step in to support the trade credit insurance market amid fears that struggling firms may be unable to renew policies. The UK government has said it will temporarily guarantee transactions for businesses such as manufacturing and construction firms that are currently covered against defaults on payments. Germany has also agreed to backstop losses for commercial credit insurers.