Floods in Victoria declared insurance catastrophe by ICA
Heavy storms that began on the week commencing 7 June have wrought power outages and significant property damage across the Australian state of Victoria.
The worst-affected areas are reportedly Gippsland, Traralgon, and the Yarra Ranges.
With as many as 130,000 homes cut off by some estimates, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has officially declared a state of ‘catastrophe’ to bring much-needed aid and claim prioritisation to those affected. It will also have the following effects:
- Claims will be triaged according to the severity of each policyholder’s need
- The ICA hotline (1800 734 621) has been activated to provide assistance with policy details or the claims process
- ICA representatives will be mobilised to assist local agencies and services
- A taskforce has been charged with identifying and addressing any underlying issues revealed by the catastrophe
Catastrophe insurance: A warning for the future?
Swiss Re had found that global insurance losses rose 40% to US$76bn in 2020, a concerning figure that the company considered further evidence that climate change is the industry’s largest existential threat.
Elsewhere, Artemis estimated that the catastrophe (cat) bond market had reached $11bn in the same year. With reference to 2021’s prospects, Steve Evans, Owner and Editor of Artemis, predicted yet another record year:
“All the signs point to another busy year for cat bonds and insurance-linked securities as risk transfer structures, as sponsors increasingly look to the global capital markets as an efficient source of insurance protection."
Meanwhile, the precise extent of the damage caused by the Victoria flood remains presently unknown. Andrew Hall, CEO of the ICA, reported that 6,500 claims had been filed in the first few days.
“As many areas are currently inaccessible due to floodwater, insurers are expecting further claims in coming days as emergency services allow residents to return to their properties to examine the extent of their damage and losses,” he said.
SIMON Insurance expands its annuities platform
The New York-based insurance and annuities services company, SIMON, has announced the launch of its expanded annuities service via its new digital platform, called LiveWell.
The valuable annuity service is issued by the Midland National Life Insurance Company and administered by Sammons Retirement Solutions - a division of Institutional Group, as the first-to-market. More carriers are cited to join SIMON’s variable annuity marketplace over the next few months.
The move means financial professionals can now find and explore Sammons’ LiveWell Variable Annuity solutions, access product-specific marketing literature, and run powerful allocation and income analytics within the product—all directly within SIMON’s interactive platform.
Tax-deferred growth for the retired
According to reports, variable annuities are favoured by savings markets because they can help accumulate assets for retirement with tax-deferred growth. They also offer agile and flexible tax-free reallocations as well as optional death benefits for heirs.
Frequently used as part of a long-term retirement planning strategy for tax-efficient growth, VAs are now available in SIMON’s Marketplace alongside fixed indexed annuities, fixed annuities, and structured annuities.
The SIMON annuities platform also provides financial professionals with centralised access to the tools and resources they need to analyse marketplace products based on their clients’ risk profiles and investment horizons.
The platform also allows investors to:
- Explore various rider illustrations
- Leverage powerful allocation analytics
- View fund options and their performance statistics
- Dive deep into the historical performance of allocations and funds
Speaking about the launch of LiveWell, Melissa Scheuerman, VP of Business and Sales Development at Sammons, explained, “Everyone seeks custom solutions today—from news feeds on our cell phones to grocery delivery services, and retirement planning is no different. Products need to offer flexibility, and professionals need intuitive tools at their fingertips to analyse and manage products that offer that flexibility.
“Our partnership with SIMON illustrates a commitment to offering scalable annuity solutions to professionals serving a growing population of retirees.”
Scott Beshany, Chief Distribution Officer at SIMON, added, “With game-changing analytics for this product class, variable annuities are a natural new addition to SIMON’s product lineup. Our Marketplace is now able to deliver a more holistic product experience, and we look forward to driving a better, more powerful VA product experience for financial professionals.”