Official estimates of the number of swine flu cases in Argentina have reached 100,000, causing concerns about the potential impact on the nation’s economy generally and the insurance industry more specifically. Local health officials have closed all schools in Argentina and declared a sanitary emergency in most provinces, warning people to avoid large public gatherings. Absenteeism among workers is already estimated at 30% and economists warn that the overall effect of the swine flu could be a decline of as much as 13% of Argentina’s GDP for the year. All of this raises significant concerns for insurers, whether in the lines of health, life or commercial general liability.
The Dominican Republic’s Superintendency of Insurance recently released a report stating that total premiums in the nation’s insurance market increased 4.3% when comparing January through May 2009 to the same period in 2008, and 7.7% when comparing May 2009 to May 2008. The growth was largely attributable to double digit increases in personal lines premiums (which makes up some 72% of the market), although marine and aviation hull insurance also saw a 236.5% increase May 2009 over May 2008.
As the political and economic situation in Honduras remains in flux, local commentators have begun considering whether commercial losses due to the crisis will implicate insurance coverage for companies doing business in Honduras and surrounding countries. Many companies from neighboring countries have suspended trade with Honduras in the face of cross-border transportation issues. In Costa Rica, local commentators have indicated that Instituto Nacional de Seguros policies are unlikely to be implicated given the routine inclusion in such policies of exclusions for losses related to war, terrorist acts and public protests.