IFRIMA warns of unscrupulous insurers as Covid-19 unfolds

The International Federation of Risk and Insurance Management Associations (IFRIMA) has warned risk managers they will face belligerent claims staff and unscrupulous insurers as the Covid-19 crisis unfolds.

The stark warning came from IFRIMA president Gert Cruywagen, writing to risk managers in his native South Africa.

“There will be many new risks after Covid-19,” he stressed. “Those of us who have responsibility for insurance will be severely tested – from dealing with belligerent claims staff where insurance cover for pandemics exists, to dealing with some unscrupulous insurers trying to impose opportunistic premium increases.”

Mr Cruywagen urged risk managers to take advantage of their association membership, such as the Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA), to “stand together to respond to this”.

He added that the crisis would also present “many new opportunities where we can show the value of risk management”.

Writing to IRMSA members, he said: “I do not wish to divert your attention from the urgency of your work around Covid-19 with trivial matters. However, I felt that I should use this opportunity to communicate with you.

“In the last fortnight or so, I was fortunate to be in contact with fellow risk professionals around the world. Although it was good to communicate with them, the sad reality is that we are all in a similar position. Like many of us, they are also struggling to make sense of this situation that none of us have experienced before.”

Mr Cruywagen added that most risk managers had some form of medical emergency on their risk registers, whether it is a pandemic like ebola or SARS, or whether it is a lifestyle disease like HIV/AIDS or hypertension.

“Most of our business continuity plans would have addressed these medical emergencies, especially in terms of business continuity plans for individual units or even the head office. Very few plans addressed an organisation-wide medical emergency and no one foresaw the situation we are currently in.

“The wise words of Abraham Lincoln come to mind, where he said: ‘It is in times of untried emergencies that the native mettle of man is tested.’ Those words certainly apply to us as risk managers during these times,” he said.

Mr Cruywagen added: “This is the time for the risk management fraternity to show leadership in terms of risk assessment, scenario planning, emergency procedures and business continuity. After this pandemic is over, our employers will need our skills like never before.”

Also, as leaders of the risk management community, he said, many may be tasked to take the lead to assist government in fighting this deadly disease.

“Through IFRIMA, we at IRMSA are part of a global family of risk practitioners and we should assist one another in these trying times. Therefore, if you come across any problem that you do not have solutions to or that seems insurmountable, please do not hesitate to use the resource that is the IRMSA community and, by extension, our colleagues globally.”

Mr Cruywagen concluded: “The world as we know it will never be the same. There will be many new risks after Covid-19, but also many new opportunities where we can show the value of risk management.”