Manulife CEO says pandemic remains a challenge for insurers

By The IJ Staff | June 08 2020 03:23PM

Photo: Freepik

Many life insurers came into the current recession well-prepared. They were already adapting to low interest rates and many had high capital buffers and little exposure to speculative-grade debt.

That said, CEO panelists at the annual S&P Global Ratings’ Insurance Conference, including Roy Gori, president and CEO at Manulife Financial, say the pandemic presents a huge challenge, to advisor sales, and to business continuity. The CEOs gathered also discussed policy lapses, terminations in claims, and payouts related to deaths from COVID-19.

Gori says Manulife has yet to see an increase in payment lapses or policy terminations, “but it’s still too early to declare victory,” he told the group. Gori also spoke about the rapid pace at which his company had to digitize, working with regulators and supervisors in ways they never have before to ensure quick approval of their platforms. Although he and other panelists agree that certain complex policies are better handled in person, Gori told the group of those gathered that “digital is not the enemy of face-to-face distribution.”

Going forward, the panelists say they don’t expect any mergers or acquisitions to occur in the next few months, agreeing that stability is important for both buyers and sellers, but say once stability returns, M&A likely will, as well. They also say insurers will need to offer new products going forward, pay attention to their pricing and cut costs.

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