Under pressure, insurers agree to freeze their rates for businesses

Posted on Dec. 2020 at 14:56Updated Dec. 7 2020 at 19:42

This is the end of a new standoff between insurers and the government. Accused since the spring of not doing enough for their customers, French insurers agreed on Monday to freeze the prices of their professional insurance next year, for the sectors most affected by the crisis. “It’s a good agreement that allows us to get out of this logic of conflicts to enter into a logic of dialogue, discussion and above all solidarity, said Bruno Le Maire.

In detail, insurers have undertaken not to increase the prices of their professional multi-risk insurance contracts in 2021 (covering property, premises and civil liability) for VSEs and SMEs in the hotel and restaurant industry. , but also for companies with less than 250 employees in events, tourism, sport and culture, said the minister, after a videoconference with representatives of the insurance sector. This gesture is evaluated at “Several tens, even several hundred million euros”, by Bercy, where we explain that “Insurers were going to increase their rates next year sometimes very substantially.”

Already freezes or even premium discounts

“Logically, we should have increased prices, probably 3 to 4% like last year, due to climate damage, explains Thierry Martel, the boss of Groupama and spokesperson for mutual insurers within the French Insurance Federation (FFA). But the mutualists had already incorporated major pricing efforts, freezes, and even, for some, premium discounts into the 2021 tariffs ”, he procrastinates. “It’s an agreement with a wide grip”, insists on his side the boss of Generali France, Jean-Laurent Granier. “This represents a significant part of the professional sector that we provide at Generali”.

This commitment was expected since Bruno Le Maire issued an ultimatum to insurers asking them to commit “at least” to a rate freeze. The minister threatened to let the deputies adopt a tax of 1.2 billion euros on the sector, already voted in the Senate during the debates on the 2021 budget. And this, in addition to the tax of 1.5 billion targeting health insurance players. Criticism against the insurance industry has redoubled in recent weeks, as insurers ask many of their clients to sign endorsements specifying that they will not be covered against the consequences of future pandemics, on pain of termination.

A badly received request in the sector

Bruno Le Maire’s request was presented as a ” blackmail “By the boss of the insurer AXA in France, Jacques de Peretti, who stressed in an interview with” Parisien “that this type of showdown with politicians has not yet taken place in other countries of the world. similarly affected by Covid-19.

The sector says it has already put 2.1 billion euros on the table to support businesses in the form of financial aid, rent cancellations or premium discounts, in addition to the 400 million euros paid in the spring to the solidarity fund. Insurers also estimate that they will pay 2 billion euros in claims this year more than last year, despite lower claims in automobile insurance.

For Bruno Le Maire, the agreement is a way of ” turn the page on conflicts between each other “. The sector has also undertaken not to terminate the contracts of companies in weakened sectors which do not pay their contributions on time during the first quarter of 2021 and to provide free assistance in the event of hospitalization in connection with with Covid-19, a solution reminiscent of the one put forward by Generali with the support of restaurateurs. Finally, the government has indicated that it wishes to promote recourse to insurance mediation, to settle amicably disputes between companies and insurers.

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