France seeks to insure businesses for future pandemics | New



PARIS (Reuters) - Les assureurs privés français fourniraient une couverture contre les pertes d'exploitation pouvant aller jusqu'à 2 milliards d'euros (2,2 milliards de dollars) par an au total pour les petites entreprises touchées par les retombées de futures pandémies, dans le cadre d'un système proposé par l'organisme industriel.

The proposals, which would not apply to the current crisis, aim to help 2.9 million small and medium-sized enterprises to cover certain losses if the state asks them to shut down in the event of a new disaster.

The plan follows confusion and recriminations around the world as the COVID-19 pandemic has blinded governments and insurers. Companies facing unprecedented closings have struggled to recover from the massive losses of an industry that may not be able to cover them.

Insurers in the United States and Europe, faced with political pressure and lawsuits from their clients, are discussing with the authorities new ways to cover future crises.

Existing French business interruption policies generally cover loss of income resulting from certain physical damage, such as fire. They generally exclude or do not specifically cover a pandemic.

Under the proposed mechanism, known as CATEX, private insurers and reinsurers would provide coverage of up to € 2 billion per year to all companies, beyond which the state would intervene via the public reinsurer CCR.

The new guarantee would be integrated into one or other of the fire insurance contracts, which all French companies have; or in business interruption policies, which 50% of companies have.

The proposal was presented by the commercial insurance agency FFA. It is part of the projects being examined by a working group set up by the French Minister of Finance Bruno Le Maire, which includes legislators, commercial lobbies, the French insurance association and the public reinsurer CCR.

“The compensation would be lump sum and paid without prior expertise,” said the FFA. “The financing of the CATEX system would be ensured via a premium paid by the companies concerned and via a public-private partnership. ”

(Report by Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Pravin Char)



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