There were, of course, recurrent topics and themes– from the coronavirus to business interruption to cyber to acquisitions to the Trump Administration to hurricanes — that dominated property/casualty insurance national news in 2020. At the same time, certain individual national articles— some related to those popular topics and some not— captured the attention of more readers than others. The top 10 (plus a bonus #11) most read national articles on InsuranceJournal.com in 2020 were:
There was a big move to remote work within the insurance industry and perhaps no single action captured it more dramatically than Nationwide’s decision to institute a hybrid model that made many at-home assignments permanent and exited most buildings outside of four main campuses.
Elon Musk made news (and money) throughout the year even caused a stir or two in insurance circles. His firm Tesla has been testing an insurance product for its drivers in California, and is preparing to build an insurer, one Musk says will be “revolutionary.”
The coronavirus was, of course, the main story for the insurance industry and the world in 2020. This particular story in February was an early take on the insurance industry ramifications of the pandemic and advised businesses to evaluate how their operations, revenues and insurance may be affected by the coronavirus.
Quarantines and lockdowns meant fewer drivers and miles driven. Insurers moved to reflect that downward trend in premium adjustments for their auto insureds. Most discounts have been for personal lines auto customers; however a number of carriers are also targeted business customers. Later in the year, some consumer advocates called on insurers to provide additional discounts.
The industry faced increasing claims for business interruption even by insureds whose policies had virus exclusions. This was an early look — an industry warning — in March at the potential costs just for small businesses in the U.S. could be between $220-$383 billion per month — or a quarter to half of the total industry surplus available to pay all P/C claims.
The workers’ compensation industry moved to address how to handle the move to at-home work and lockdowns of businesses. The National Council on Compensation Insurance in April developed a reporting code so that businesses that suspended operations due to COVID-19 but continued to pay employees who are at home but not working would not have to include the payroll paid to these employees in the calculation of their workers’ compensation premium.
It was a year of some major mergers with this one in particular attracting considerable attention. Allstate moved to boost its auto insurance and independent agency business at a time when the coronavirus has reduced traffic on roads and reduced claims.
Zurich Insurance and Farmers Exchanges agreed to buy MetLife’s U.S. property and casualty business for $3.94 billion. The deal will give Farmers a nationwide presence in the U.S. and access to new distribution channels.
The fate of thousands of coronavirus-related business interruption lawsuit was of interest all year long. Since COVID-19 sparked government-ordered shutdowns in March, judges have dismissed far more business-interruption lawsuits than they’ve allowed to proceed, but some plaintiffs are continuing to probe what they see as weak spots in the industry’s legal defenses.
If and when insurers should pay ransomware demands emerged as matter of concern. The U.S. Treasury Department warned that those that help facilitate ransomware payments may be violating anti-money laundering and sanctions regulations.
And one honorable mention…
As the coronavirus vaccine distribution got underway late in the year, attention turned to how it might play out in workplaces. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated guidance on the responsibilities and rights of employers and employees related to the vaccine, including in cases where employers may require employees to be vaccinated. This news, which was published December 12, shot to the top in the rankings in no time, past articles that have been live for months. Given more time, it will likely keep rising and thus deserves inclusion among the most popular stories of 2020.
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