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GoHealth's reverse split stock fails to inspire; auto insurers continue to hike

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According to Market Intelligence, December 2022


GoHealth's reverse split stock fails to inspire; auto insurers continue to hike

GoHealth Inc. is the latest insurtech company to initiate a reverse stock split, joining a growing list of embattled disrupters attempting to weather a changing market.

The move was announced earlier in the month and was likely done to keep the insurtech from being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange, according to Kaenan Hertz, managing partner with Insurtech Advisors.

The vast majority of companies that initiate reverse stock splits still see their shares fall in the next couple of years, Hertz said in an interview.

"Some that can actually recover start to appreciate, but GoHealth was left with no other real options," he said.

GoHealth's 1-for-15 reverse stock split went into effect at the beginning of trading on Nov. 18. Hertz said he was somewhat surprised at that decision because the ratio did not raise GoHealth's stock to the $20 mark, where it becomes more attractive to institutional investors.

"If it drifts down, it'll end up being worth probably just a few bucks, and when it's a few bucks, then for sure institutional investors will be less interested," he said.

GoHealth ended the week at $7.02.

Fellow insurtech and property and casualty carrier Hippo Holdings Inc., which announced a reverse split in September, closed this week at $13.46. Auto insurtech Root Inc. implemented its reverse split in August. Its shares finished the week at $7.05.

"Insurtechs this year are tinkering on the edge of survival," Hertz said in a research note. "Many believed growth was the ultimate goal, but the wind has changed and markets and investors have changed their appetite."

U.S. equities overall lost ground for the week ending Nov. 18 as the S&P 500 fell 0.69% to 3,965.34. Insurance companies fared a bit better, growing 1.03% for the week to 592.48.

Auto insurers continue to eye rate increases

Personal auto insurers continue to press for more rate increases in an effort to address inflationary pressures, according to a report from UBS. With the exception of California, which has only very recently started to allow private auto rate increases, regulators are "generally being accommodative" to hikes, the report said.

Personal auto underwriters have experienced underlying loss ratio deterioration since the second quarter of 2021, driven by higher claims frequency as the number of miles driven increases in the U.S. and increased severity driven by supply chain issues and labor constraints.

The extremely favorable loss experience auto insurers had in 2020 adds to the complication, according to UBS.

"There was little rate in the system to address the rapid rise in loss costs," UBS said. "Insurers are filing for rate increases to address the elevated loss costs; however, depending on policy terms and geographic spread of business, some will likely return to normalized margins faster than others."

Digital advertising has also declined below historic levels, although the report details an acceleration for GEICO Corp. and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co..

Other companies, such as The Allstate Corp. and The Progressive Corp., have slowed their spending, per the report. Allstate's stock finished the week at $132.47 and Progressive finished at $128.36.