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Virus crisis: insurers 'must help businesses survive'

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National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA) President Eric Harris has urged insurers and premium funders to “support communities” to ensure small businesses survive the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Harris told today that many clients of brokers were facing desperate times as virus-related restrictions ramp up, and called for an industry-wide announcement on support measures.

“I would like to challenge insurers and premium funding companies to support our communities in the very trying times we all have ahead,” he wrote on LinkedIn.

“Banks have already announced measures they are taking, how can the insurance industry help?”

Mr Harris suggests measures could include: premium payment period extensions, premium funding instalment “holidays”, holding covered extensions, policy period extensions, and reducing premiums where businesses are not operating.

He told many clients are being supported on an individual basis but more clarity is needed.

“Is it right that we are doing this client by client? Or is there some approach where we can say everyone in this industry, in this situation, will be given this support?

“It’s not about dealing with claims, but making sure businesses survive. We are all pretty screwed if there are no small businesses at the end of this. We might all need to carry some more credit risk.”

NIBA CEO Dallas Booth is part of the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) pandemic taskforce.

“I am going to be talking with ICA to see if there can be an industry position on some of these things,” he said.

“We will be talking to premium funders too.”