Washington (Mar. 25, 2020) – State insurance regulators are committed to working at the state and federal level to help mitigate the devastating economic impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For example, states have already taken swift action to allow health insurance consumers to access COVID-19 testing without cost-sharing, and working to extend access to coverage for consumers where states are empowered to do so. Given the current condition of the financial markets, state regulators and the NAIC are also closely monitoring the financial health of insurers to ensure their continued strength and resilience.
We thank Congress and the Administration for acting quickly to give states greater flexibility to protect consumers and deal with ever-changing market dynamics, and we look forward to continuing that partnership as issues arise. However, as Congress considers further legislative proposals to address the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we would caution against and oppose proposals that would require insurers to retroactively pay unfunded COVID-19 business interruption claims that insurance policies do not currently cover.
Business interruption policies were generally not designed or priced to provide coverage against communicable diseases, such as COVID-19 and therefore include exclusions for that risk. Insurance works well and remains affordable when a relatively small number of claims are spread across a broader group, and therefore it is not typically well suited for a global pandemic where virtually every policyholder suffers significant losses at the same time for an extended period. While the U.S. insurance sector remains strong, if insurance companies are required to cover such claims, such an action would create substantial solvency risks for the sector, significantly undermine the ability of insurers to pay other types of claims, and potentially exacerbate the negative financial and economic impacts the country is currently experiencing.
Moving forward, if Congress believes that the business interruption insurance sector can play a vital role in addressing the policy challenges of future pandemics, we stand ready to work with Congress on such solutions. However, swift action by Congress to directly address the needs of citizens and our economy is the most effective and expedient means to addressing the devastating impact of COVID-19.