Ahead of a scheduled Nov. 5 quarterly earnings report, Munich Re announced that its COVID-19 losses for the third quarter total €800 million (roughly $940 million) and that non-COVID large losses are above average.
That should put overall profit at about €200 million ($235 million) a decline from last year’s third-quarter profit of €865 million (over $1 billion).
The third-quarter 2020 COVID losses are attributable to property/casualty and life/health business, the reinsurer said, without breaking down the relative amounts. One the P/C side, insurance for major events figures into the total, the company said in a media statement
Non-COVID major losses include a high tally from severe hurricanes and wildfires in the United States, as well as man-made losses, the largest of which was the explosion in Beirut’s port.
Separately, Doris Höpke, a member of the board of management responsible for Europe and Latin America, said a confluence of factors will continue to push insurance and reinsurance prices higher going forward, according to a media statement summarizing her remarks from a virtual press briefing (taking the place of an on-site briefing at the annual Baden Baden meeting). Repeating messages previously delivered by Torsten Jeworrek, CEO of Munich Re’s reinsurance business, at a virtual Monte Carlo briefing in September about the drivers of the increases, Höpke highlighted a previous erosion of low industry prices and record-low interest rates—”likely to remain even lower for even longer due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
“Relying on interest income, or hoping that statistically likely losses will not occur, is an unsuitable basis for the long-term assumption of major risks,” she said. “We want to support our clients reliably and in the long run with our financial capacity and our knowledge of risks. We devote considerable attention at Munich Re to sound underwriting, as well as appropriate prices, terms and conditions,” she said,
“Munich Re will consistently ensure that prices, terms and conditions are commensurate with the risks in the next renewal round,” the media statement said.
As Jeworrek did previously, Höpke also said that COVID and the associated lockdowns of public life and business have been “a wake-up call” about the “staggering potential for systemic risks to result in losses that subsequently trigger many different repercussions.”
She focused particular on the repercussions of cyber attacks. With a team of 130-plus cyber specialists, Munich Re is mapping out a comprehensive strategy of assessing existing risks individually, identifying systemic trends, and pursuing risk-commensurate prices, terms and conditions.
According to the media statement, the market for cyber risks remains one of Munich Re’s most important strategic growth areas, and the reinsurer expects robust industrywide growth driven by pandemic-fueled momentum from digitalization and rising awareness of cyber risks. “The cyber insurance market could even surpass the current forecast for growth, from slightly above $7 billion in 2020 to around $20 billion in 2025,” Munich Re estimates.
A slide presentation accompanying the media statement shows that Munich Re’s share of what was a $6 billion global cyber market just a year ago, in 2019, stood at $600 million, with roughly half of Munich Re’s cyber book on the reinsurance side and half on the primary insurance side.