Actuaries to Research Avian Flu Pandemic Impact on Industry

February 21, 2006

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) is beginning research on the possible implications of an avian flu pandemic on the insurance industry. The SOA expects to provide insight into the potential impact a pandemic could have on life and health insurers.

Jim Toole, fellow of the Society of Actuaries and managing director of MBA Actuaries, will undertake the effort. Toole brings his actuarial expertise in risk measurement and management to address the readiness of the insurance industry to face a pandemic.

“Advance planning is critical. An insurer needs to do more than just study how a pandemic might affect the amount and timing of claim dollars it pays to its policyholders. It will also need to consider how it will function at unprecedented claim volumes, when as many as 50 percent of its employees are ill or absent providing care for family members. The research will assess the total risk to an insurer, discussing vital considerations for before, during and after an event that might mitigate or exacerbate the consequences of a severe or moderate pandemic,” said Toole.

Tom Edwalds, fellow of the Society of Actuaries and chairperson of the SOA’s oversight committee for this research, believes “the possible effects of pandemic influenza are important to the U.S. life and health insurance industry because it may increase the severity and frequency of the payment of death benefits and medical treatment compared to anticipated, potentially affecting an insurer’s or reinsurer’s solvency. For actuaries and other risk management professionals examining the risk of pandemic influenza, understanding the potential impact of the event on U.S. mortality and morbidity is critical. We believe this research will be a useful resource for them.”

Results from this research initiative will be made available during the SOA’s Spring Health Meeting in June in Hollywood, Fla.

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