ICMIF site


REPORT: Mutual and cooperative insurers contribute over USD 1 billion to coronavirus relief efforts

Since mid-March of this year, when the COVID-19 virus was being recognised truly as a global pandemic, ICMIF, the global federation representing cooperative and mutual insurers, globally has been monitoring and collecting information on members’ responses to the outbreak.

In total ICMIF members have given nearly USD 1 billion in support and assistance through various channels and initiatives to help their member policyholders, to support local communities and to give vital help to healthcare providers in their respective countries.

As of mid-April, ICMIF has logged more than 50 examples of what mutual and cooperative insurance member organisations have done in response to the pandemic with stories from 20+ countries, of which at least 16 are from emerging markets.  Over 40 of these inspirational stories have been shared on the ICMIF website and social media channels.

ICMIF also launched a fortnightly Coronavirus Update for its 197 member organisations in a bid to provide information on what action is being taken across the world by cooperative and mutual insurers.  The aim of the new update is to provide topical information to help and inspire values-based insurers around the world at a time of critical need and remind them of the value of the ICMIF global community of members.

In total ICMIF members have given nearly USD 1 billion in support and assistance through their various initiatives. Some of the examples have a financial contribution attached and many are classed as relief for insurance payments or extension of coverage to allow claims and general support for member policyholders.

Investments in social bonds – USD 300 million

Two Swedish members Folksam and Länsförsäkringar have invested USD 300 million between them in three difference social bonds set up to counter the impacts of Covid-19 and to support healthcare systems.  The various bonds have been issued by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank to provide financial support to companies affected by the Covid-19 pandemic; the European Investment Bank (EIB) social bond, supports the European healthcare system; and the Nordic Investment Bank which funds projects in the Nordic countries primarily aimed at promoting effective health care systems and providing financial support to reduce the disruptions that have occurred in various supply chains.

Insurance coverage and service

Twenty-one ICMIF member companies have extended coverage, made it easier for policyholders to make claims and/or given payment holidays on premiums. Several have opened online medical advice services for customers and/or local communities in countries which are on lockdown. These include the Sancor Seguros Group which launched the online Call the Doctor platform and San Cristóbal Seguros which also launched a virtual medical platform for policyholders (both Argentina) and R+V launched a new TeleClinic health service in Germany. Some ICMIF members are delivering medical supplies to member policyholders and including CIC Insurance Group (Kenya).

Mutuals pass on savings to customers – USD 525 million

According to ICMIF’s research so far, five ICMIF members are giving rebates on motor insurance premiums as policyholders are driving less and therefore there are less claims. MAIF (France) was the first of our members identified by our team as giving motor insurance rebates to members in early April and since then we have seen this initiative really take hold among many insurers in the USA (mostly mutual).  Shelter Insurance (USA) has also committed to offering rebates as has and Desjardins General Insurance Group (Canada) and more recently Gruppo Unipol (Italy) committed to a USD330 million rebate to customers.

Donations of money – USD 35 million

More than 13 members have donated USD 35 million in funds directly to hospitals, for equipment and to other health related charities in order to help combat the pandemic. They have also donated food to the poor and to food banks. This includes Canadian ICMIF member Wawanesa Insurance which announced a CAD 100,000 donation to food banks in Canada and the United States.

Donations towards healthcare services

LocalTapiola Central Finland, one of ICMIF member LocalTapiola’s regional companies, has donated EUR 200,000 to the University of Jyväskylä for the development of coronavirus test analysis. The donation will significantly increase Finland’s coronavirus testing capacity. The Unipol Group, through UnipolSai Assicurazioni, has allocated EUR 20m to help combat the coronavirus emergency in the most severely affected areas of Italy. In close cooperation with the Regional Authorities, the Civil Protection Authority and the officials involved in managing the emergency, Unipol will allocate said resources to increase the number of beds in hospitals, especially in intensive care and semi-intensive care units, and purchase the necessary healthcare equipment to try to help stop the epidemic from spreading.

Other members have donated much needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitors directly to healthcare facilities including Rio Uruguay Seguros (Argentina) which has collaborated with universities to provide personal protective equipment for those caring for coronavirus patients.

Support packages for members families and communities – USD 50 million

NFU Mutual launched a USD 40 million (GBP 32 million) support package for its members and the UK rural community which the organisation serves.

Members in the Philippines: CARD MBA, CLIMBS, Rimansi and 1CISP have all launched support packages across many areas that their members need assistance in both for the pandemic and the economic downturn that is following. Ironically, the Philippines members are used to disaster relief situations but mostly from tsunami’s and earthquakes and not pandemics but these DRR support systems have proved invaluable in providing assistance to their communities.

In India members The Dhan Foundation, SEWA, IFFCO and the Goats Trust have all initiated support packages (click on links for individual stories) for their members in their communities many of which are in the informal and agriculture sector, traditionally the poorer members of society, who need assistance the most in such a pandemic.

SANASA General Insurance (Sri Lanka) is implementing an urgent one million-dollar (USD) relief programme to support vulnerable sections of the community to help them to survive the crisis.  This includes feeding the most vulnerable and also encouraging families to become self-sufficient.

ICMIF Chief Executive, Shaun Tarbuck said, “At this relatively early stage these stories are truly inspirational and highlight the fact that when society is faced with losses or a global tragedy of such great magnitude, mutual and cooperative insurance organisations can be relied upon by their member policyholders and, in many cases, local communities, to really make a difference and to genuinely help the communities they serve. We anticipate further inspirational stories to emerge as the crisis continues.”