ALEX BRUMMER: We can’t afford to turn Lloyds of London into a pariah

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\ud30c\ub77c\uc624\uce74\uc9c0\ub178 \uba39\ud280 \uac80\uc99dBritain’s insurers have not won many friends during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The reluctance of Hiscox to pay out on business interruption claims by small enterprises, in spite of language covering pandemics in the contract, required City regulator the Financial Conduct Authority to adjudicate.

Consumers who have booked, cancelled or postponed holidays have been left in never-never land. 

Impact: Lloyd’s of London expects to fork out billions in payouts as a result of the pandemic

Only Admiral had the decency to recognise that cars sitting on driveways due to lockdown are unlikely to be involved in fender benders and offered a refund.

Yet there is no escaping that insurance is an enormously important part of Britain’s financial sector. 

The UK has the fourth largest insurance industry in the world behind the US, Japan and China, the largest in Europe and remarkably is the biggest exporter of insurance services on earth with exports of £14.9billion – a big chunk of the nation’s surplus in services.

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At the core of the eco-system is Lloyd’s of London which has seen a myriad of crises since it emerged from the coffee shops of 17th century Britain.

Indeed, it has recently found itself at the centre of an ethical storm over sexism and raucous behaviour. It is now being tested by Covid-19. 

Lloyd’s history of taking on risk which cannot always be bought off the shelf means it has been inundated with claims for events cancellations which will account for 31 per cent of the up to £3.5billion of losses.

There may be far more to come if syndicates end up having to pay out to great swathes of businesses ruined by coronavirus lockdowns. The claims could eventually exceed record pay outs from 9/11 in the USA.

Overall Lloyd’s expects the industry across the world to absorb losses of more than £160bn. The consequences will be twofold. Syndicates that have underwritten the losses will require big injections of new capital. 

And ultimately consumers of insurance services, whether businesses or retail customers, will pay the price with surging premiums. 

This happens after almost every natural disaster whether it be floods in Yorkshire or forest fires in Australia or California. 

Former Bank of England governor Mark Carney has already pointed out the extreme vulnerability insurance faces from climate change.

The public might be more forgiving if insurers were not so infernally obstructive about claims in these most extreme of circumstances. Nevertheless, the country cannot afford to turn such a valuable international earner into a pariah and drive the market offshore.

Amazing grace

The dark shadow of the implosion in Neil Woodford’s investment empire has lifted remarkably quickly from investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown. 

Hargreaves continues to defy expectations despite betraying the good faith of some 300,000 investors who directly or indirectly suffered big losses as a result of flawed research and recommendations.

Over the last four months HL added £4billion of new business and 솔레어카지노 94,000 new customers, in spite of ferocious conditions on equity markets. 

Overall, the value of assets held has fallen from £105.2billion to £96.7billion as equity markets have taken punishment. 

The combination of locked down clients playing the markets and volatility trades pushed revenues to record levels of £190.2million. 

Ridiculously high profit margins – that can only be dreamed of across most of the financial sector – means that HL continues to back momentum and will continue to pay dividends.

But its reputation has not been fully repaired. HL still faces the result of a full scale FCA inquiry and the possibility of a class action suit from distressed clients. 

The investment platform is seeking to clean up its act by replacing its totally discredited Wealth 50 list – which featured Woodford until the last – with a revamped Wealth Shortlist run by an independent panel.

Cuts in management fees and proper compensation would also be welcome.

Debt hangover

The only positive way of looking at the near £300billion of borrowing run up by the Government, largely as a result of Covid-19, is to think how bad the position we would all be in had the Chancellor 더나인카지노 Rishi Sunak not acted decisively to shore up the incomes of ordinary people, businesses and services such as the NHS. 

Borrowing of 15 per cent plus of GDP and debt close to 100 per cent of output is scary.

More worrying is the permanent damage done to enterprise, sm카지노 culture, supply chains and the next generation to enter the workforce.

That could be as painful as the devilish disease itself.

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