Majority of Life Insurance Underwriters Expect Increase in Frequency and Severity of Pandemics over the next 5-10 Years, Finds Munich Re Surve

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21 June 2016

Majority of Life Insurance Underwriters Expect Increase in Frequency and Severity of Pandemics over the next 5-10 Years, Finds Munich Re Survey 

Atlanta, June 15, 2016 – Nearly three-fourths (70 percent) of life insurance underwriters expect the number and severity of epidemics and pandemics to increase over the next five to 10 years, according to a recent survey by Munich Re US Life, one of the world’s leading reinsurers.

Among the over 100 underwriters surveyed, 46 percent believe influenza (bird flu, swine flu, etc.) is the potential pandemic disease that carries the most risk for the insured population, followed by a currently unknown disease (25 percent), Zika virus (14 percent), Ebola virus (8 percent), and SARS (7 percent).

Of the life insurance companies represented, a majority (73 percent) take into account geographically localized risks in their medical underwriting process. However, only one-quarter of the life insurance companies polled currently have guidelines in place that take Zika virus into consideration, despite recent outbreaks across parts of Central and South America.

Dr. Gina Guzman, vice president and chief medical director at Munich American Reassurance Company, commented, “As alarming as the outbreak in South and Central America may seem, Munich Re expects limited impact on life and health insurance.”

When asked how recent epidemics such as Ebola virus and Zika virus have affected consumer behavior regarding life insurance purchases, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents felt they have had no impact, while 34 percent believe there are now more consumers seeking coverage.

In addition, 56 percent of respondents believe that the occurrence of epidemics or pandemics will have no impact on the accessibility of life insurance. Despite the potential for an increase in the number and severity of epidemics and pandemics, an overwhelming majority (91 percent) of the underwriters surveyed suggest it will be easier for the average consumer to obtain insurance at affordable rates within the next five to 10 years.

“We are seeing a real interest in increasing access to life insurance products. I think that future accessibility of life insurance will be governed by new technologies and processes that will make issuing policies a quicker and easier process,” said Bill Moore, vice president, underwriting and medical at the company.


The survey was conducted on-site at the Association of Home Office Underwriters (AHOU) 15th Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida from May 1-4, 2016, and is intended to represent the views of 102 underwriter attendees, primarily from life insurance companies, who participated in the in-person interviews.

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Munich American Reassurance Company, (Munich Re US (Life) founded in 1959, is one of the largest reinsurers in the U.S. offering life and disability reinsurance to insurance companies throughout the United States. The company also writes group, credit and other reinsurance products. Headquartered in Atlanta, with an office in Chicago, the company is licensed, accredited or authorized in all fifty states; Washington, D.C.; Guam; and Puerto Rico.

Munich Re stands for exceptional solution-based expertise, consistent risk management, financial stability and client proximity. This is how Munich Re creates value for clients, shareholders and staff. In the financial year 2015, the Group – which combines primary insurance and reinsurance under one roof – achieved a profit of €3.1bn on premium income of over €50bn. It operates in all lines of insurance, with more than 43,000 employees throughout the world. With premium income of around €28bn from reinsurance alone, it is one of the world's leading reinsurers. Especially when clients require solutions for complex risks, Munich Re is a much sought-after risk carrier. Munich Re's primary insurance operations are concentrated in the ERGO Group. ERGO is one of the leading insurance groups in Germany and Europe. ERGO is represented in over 30 countries worldwide and offers a comprehensive range of insurances, provision products and services. In 2015, ERGO posted premium income of €17.9bn. In international healthcare business, Munich Re pools its insurance and reinsurance operations, as well as related services, under the Munich Health brand. Munich Re's global investments (excluding insurance-related investments) amounting to €215bn are managed by MEAG, which also makes its competence available to private and institutional investors outside the Group.


This press release contains forward-looking statements that are based on current assumptions and forecasts of the management of Munich Re. Known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the forward-looking statements given here and the actual development, in particular the results, financial situation and performance of our Company. The Company assumes no liability to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.


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