Trump Trade Threats May Spawn Risk-Transfer Deals, Lloyd's Says

  • Beale says insurers may sell more political-risk coverage
  • Lloyd’s weighs Frankfort, Dublin for Continental office

Lloyd’s of London Chief Executive Officer Inga Beale said Donald Trump’s presidency and the U.K.’s planned exit from the European Union are creating opportunities to sell insurance guarding commercial clients against disruptions in global commerce.

"I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing much more political-risk insurance being bought all over the place," Beale said in an interview Tuesday in Miami. "Because we’re such a specialist insurance, and we provide that type of insurance, you could say that could be seen as an opportunity."

The coverage often involves smaller trading partners, rather than developed-market powers, but shifts in the U.S. and U.K. could redraw the political-risk insurance map, according to Beale. She said Trump’s victory in November "is leading to quite a bit of uncertainty," and cited the possibility of a U.S. border tax designed to encourage manufacturing in the U.S.

Man-made hazards for businesses are on the rise, marked by an increase in global populism, the spread of terrorism and the threat of cyber crime. Lloyd’s is the world’s oldest insurance market, and is used by businesses seeking to guard against large or complicated risks. Setting prices on these policies can be difficult for insurers however, as they don’t have the benefit of the decades of data available on weather-related threats such as hurricanes.

Chubb’s View

Evan Greenberg, CEO of Chubb Ltd., warned in July that it could be perilous for insurers to take on more risks at a time of uncertainty. The policies can protect customers against confiscation of property and include so-called contract-frustration insurance.

“Sounds like a brilliant time to get into that business,” he said sarcastically of rivals. “I wish them a lot of luck because that’s all they got going for them.” Weeks after Trump became president, Greenberg said he was “concerned about our own country’s potential trade and security posture.”

Beale said it was too early to quantify demand.

As a result of the U.K.’s decision to withdraw from the European Union, Lloyd’s of London is planning to open a subsidiary in Continental Europe. Beale said Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Dublin are under consideration, but that France is probably off the table.

She estimates 95 percent of business will be unaffected by Brexit. About 11 percent of the marketplace’s volume comes from non-U.K. European Union countries, but some of that will still be able to be underwritten from London, she said.

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