The eco decryption. Health and economic crisis: insurers against the wall

A cafe closed in Paris because of the health crisis. Illustrative photo. (L? O PIERRE / HANS LUCAS)

It’s the showdown since last week between the government and insurers, since Bruno Le Maire asked them to freeze premiums. That is to say, the rates on the contracts of the professionals most affected by the crisis. This mainly concerns cafes, restaurants, hotels which had to close their doors during the two confinements. Everyone must make an effort of solidarity, believes the Minister of the Economy.

The insurance sector is defending itself. He recalls that he is the only one to have put money directly into the public solidarity fund for VSEs and SMEs affected by the crisis: an envelope of 400 million euros. Insurers also have nearly two billion euros in an investment program to revive tourism or health. Without forgetting the help given by each company towards their customers. According to the federation, we arrive at more than four billion euros of support.

In any case, this is what the government is telling insurers if they do not freeze premiums. In the draft budget, the senators put an amendment, which provides for a tax of 1.2 billion euros on the sector. Barring a dramatic twist, this amendment should pass without difficulty in the Assembly. Ironically, it was deposed by a right-wing senator, himself an insurer. Moreover, last week, another insurer overwhelmed them: Xavier Bertrand, the president of Hauts-de-France, stepped up to the plate for the state to force them to put their hands in their pockets.

There is a good chance that the insurers will give in. It will cost them less than the tax of over $ 1 billion. The premium freeze, in concrete terms, means that there will be no increase in contributions on the contracts of companies affected by the crisis, as normally expected. But beyond the money, it is the image of insurers that is coming out of this crisis very damaged. This is why some companies could go further, by paying targeted aid to their most vulnerable customers. Their challenge is also to try to stop the dozens of disputes that restaurants and businesses bring to court.

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