Two of Australia’s largest insurers have both slashed their reserve provisions for business interruption claims from the COVID-19 pandemic after last week’s test case ruling.
As we reported last week, the second test case in the High Court of Australia regarding the interpretation of wordings in business interruption policies after the COVID-19 pandemic, has been resolved in favour of insurers after appeals were denied.
As we explained, sources told us this move has positive implications for the release of some trapped ILS capital.
With the decline in insurer provisions for claims from the pandemic, some reinsurance or retrocessional expected recoveries from pandemic business interruption will now decline from where reserves had been set and capital had been trapped.
The ruling has made a significant change in expectations for insurance and reinsurance market losses due to business interruption from the pandemic in Australia, resulting in some significant changes to reserves.
IAG was first and said that it will slash $360 million from its reserves for the pandemic.
The insurer said it “has reduced its net BI provision from $975 million to $615 million, after the High Court on Friday 14 October denied special leave to appeal the decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia in the second test case in February 2022.”
Suncorp also disclosed what the ruling means for its COVID BI reserves, saying that its provision for potential losses due to COVID-19 related business interruption claims as of June 30th 2022 was $179 million, but that the ruling “means that the majority of this provision will now be released.”
The moves will mean a knock-on effect to reinsurance capital that may have paid out to support Australia’s largest insurers and as a result there are ramifications for retrocession as well, hence the potential for some trapped ILS capital to be released.