Editor’s note

Keep on keeping on

As much of the world has slid back into a COVID-19-induced funk, Bermuda has reaped the benefits of the decisive action it took to address the challenge in the early months of the pandemic, and its natural advantages as an island.

Much of Europe and the US are grappling with a significant challenge in keeping their economies on track while implementing the social distancing measures that scientists say are necessary to beating back the virus. In many places the issue has become highly politicised, with those calling for stricter measures to control the spread of the virus lining up against those more concerned about the economic consequences of such measures. Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise while the outlook for the economy grows ever darker.

Bermuda is not immune to the consequences of a global economic slowdown, but it is at least insulated from much of the toxicity that is polluting the politics of other countries. It has seen a small uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, but there is little sense of the situation spinning out of control.

“Re/insurance has been lucky to have been spared the impact that has fallen on some industries.”

Most of the more recent cases have been imported, and the number of COVID-19-related deaths was, at the end of October, still in single digits. Nor was anyone in hospital or in critical condition because of the virus.

Meanwhile, business goes on. Having won considerable praise for the speed with which the industry adjusted to the new circumstances, and in particular the need to work from home, Bermuda has settled into the new normal.

There is increasing talk of Zoom fatigue: in a highly social, relationship-driven industry, people miss their face-to-face meetings, even as many acknowledge that they are unlikely to ever return with the same frequency as before. At the same time there is a widespread recognition that re/insurance has been lucky to have been spared the impact that has fallen on some industries, especially in the services sector.

In other ways the industry looks to be in even better shape. The market has continued to harden and reinsurance executives are upbeat, believing they are witnessing a long-overdue correction in the cost of risk that will ultimately leave the industry on a more sustainable footing.

Such is the excitement that some have even come out of retirement to join in the fun, as a story in this magazine reports. Serious challenges remain. One is the protection gap, the subject of a survey published in this issue, as well as a speech delivered by Inga Beale, the former boss at Lloyd’s, to BILTIR’s annual conference. Another is climate change, another subject covered by our survey, which has been kept in the front of many minds by the record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season.

The industry continues to debate how best to model a risk that is constantly changing as the earth gets hotter, and what role historical data can and should play.

It was a theme that speakers frequently returned to at this year’s extremely successful Convergence event, hosted by ILS Bermuda, which is covered in the ILS section.

We hope you enjoy the issue.

Solomon Teague, editor

Wave image: Bermuda Tourism Board

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Solomon Teague, editor

October 2020

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