Cunningham Lindsey's 'Major Loss Review' shows recessionary pressures on business

8 Oct 09

Major loss hot spots identified last year by Cunningham Lindsey have been borne out by claims experience.

As the company prepares to launch its annual Major Loss Review on Thursday 8 October, certain trends and observations in fraud, liability, business interruption and indemnity periods can be highlighted.

Jonathan Clark, Cunningham Lindsey's Technical Director, says: "What we have seen is a development of the themes pinpointed in 2008, plus some additional areas of concern for the insurance industry.

"Firstly, the effects of the recession mean that the UK has a growing number of empty buildings which are especially vulnerable to damage and the work of fraudulent, or simply malicious, arsonists. Despite the fact that losses related to empty buildings include neither business interruption nor claims for equipment or machinery, that doesn't necessarily mean that these are not high value losses.

"An increasing number of businesses on Britain's high streets are shutting which leads to an exposure that needs managing as we see more vacant properties in town centres."

Mr Clark also notes an increase in liability claims across the board not just for personal injury but also product liability claims: "When people or businesses are under economic pressure, and they believe they have the potential to make a claim, they appear more willing to pursue that avenue. Often there may be other commercial disputes in the background to a claim and the liability issues require careful investigation and negotiation"

Businesses that are managing a fragile recovery process after a loss, and which are struggling with cash flow, are also exerting pressure on their insurers for early agreement on interim payments, Mr Clark says:

"Policyholders are looking for earlier interim payments and in many cases cash settlements. This heightens the need to deploy the right claims handling teams to evaluate the loss across all areas of any claims. The demand for speed means having the right resource to be able to assess different elements of the case simultaneously in a managed way.

"It is vital that those managing the claims process place an emphasis on isolating the right information and recording it accurately."

"There is an abundance of data that can be analysed in the wake of a loss; the challenge is to balance the reliability and availability of that data with the need to reach conclusions in the right time frame so that the claim may be dealt with without delay. Overall, it's essential to understand the principal drivers for a business and to build a clear picture before reaching conclusions about the claim."

As highlighted by Cunningham Lindsey at the launch of last year's Major Loss Review, many companies are continuing to select a 12-month minimum indemnity periods for business interruption.

Mr Clark adds: "There is nothing we have seen in recent months to change our view that businesses may not recognise the true length of time it takes to recover from a significant incident. Indemnity periods should be in line with a more realistic period of time - our experience points to 18 or 24 months - to repair whatever damage has taken place and recover from the business disruption."

"And to compound this problem, we are aware that lead times to replace vital equipment will increase in the coming year as companies start to emerge from recessionary conditions and compete for scarce resources."

Cunningham Lindsey's Major Loss Review will be launched on Thursday 8 October 2009 at the Lloyd's Old Library, One Lime Street, London, EC3. This will feature presentations by technical experts, Jonathan Clark and Harry Roberts.


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