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Willis halts Miller review; Atlantic hurricane forecast; reinsurer resilience

The U.S. hospital industry is asking private insurers for accelerated and interim payments to help offset the financial impact it is experiencing due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Willis Towers Watson PLC suspended the process to explore strategic alternatives for its London-based wholesale specialist insurance broker Miller Insurance Services LLP, Insurance Insider reported.

Fitch Ratings placed the AA- insurer financial strength ratings of Lloyd's of London, Lloyd's Insurance Co. SA and Lloyd's Insurance Co. (China) Ltd. and the A+ long-term issuer default rating of Society of Lloyd's on Rating Watch Negative.

A.M. Best said global reinsurers are resilient in the face of adversity brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the April and June renewals expected to proceed as usual from an operational perspective. Capacity tightening from third-party capital could have an effect on pricing at the renewals, particularly in June.

Axa SA is looking at a €15 million loss from the postponement of the Olympics, and a possible €60 million loss from an outright cancellation, the Insider reported, citing Jefferies executive Philip Kett.

Insurers and reinsurers in the EU should temporarily halt dividends, share buybacks and other variable remuneration policies to ensure they have enough funds to continue serving policyholders and absorb potential losses amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority said.

Centene Corp. deferred the redemption of its outstanding 4.75% senior notes due 2022 due to the disruption and volatility in the global capital markets.

Unipol Gruppo SpA's board of directors will not propose a dividend of 28 cents per share for the 2019 financial year at a shareholders' meeting April 30, in line with requests from Italy's Institute for the Supervision of Insurance. Meanwhile, the board of UnipolSai Assicurazioni SpA will propose a dividend of 16 cents per share at its April 29 shareholders' meeting, as the company's individual solvency ratio amounted to 284% as of Dec. 31, 2019.

READ MORE: Sign up for our weekly coronavirus newsletter here, and read our latest coverage on the crisis here.

The Atlantic basin hurricane season will have above-normal activity in 2020, according to a team of Colorado State University researchers, who projected that there will be 16 named tropical systems, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes during the season.

Demotech said in a report that Florida carriers avoided downgrades as carriers willing to sustain a Financial Stability Rating at the A level have demonstrated how they will fulfill their commitments to Floridians through a revised or enhanced business model. The insurers moved to enhance their capability to address the needs of homeowners in the "most complicated marketplace" in the U.S., the rating agency added.

Greenlight Capital Re Ltd. said it will continue with its existing business plan after concluding a review of strategic transaction alternatives. The company's board, following a recommendation made by a special committee of independent directors, determined stockholder value is likely to be better improved on a stand-alone basis instead of pursuing a potential transaction with a third party.

Safety Insurance Group Inc. amended its bylaws to require a majority vote for directors in uncontested elections where a quorum is present.

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US life insurers' growing commercial mortgage portfolios may face virus pressure: The life insurance industry held over $500 billion of commercial mortgage loans in 2019, a year-over-year increase of 7.5%. It is among those calling for the Fed to allow the asset class to be used as collateral for a special lending program.

US insurers have a reprieve from lower interest rates, but not for long: Widening credit spreads are limiting the effects of recent interest rate cuts on insurers' reinvestment rates for now, but spreads could return to normal after the outbreak, and if the crisis runs longer than expected, weaker players face trouble.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Prudential, CITIC Group set up Beijing JV; Bangladesh bourses to remain closed

Europe: BNP, Belgian unit scrap dividends; UniCredit strikes deal on staff cuts

Middle East & Africa: New UAE central bank head; Egypt holds rate; GCC banking system outlooks revised

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng dipped 0.19% to 23,236.11, and the Nikkei 225 was up 0.01% to 17,820.19.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 1.11% to 5,419.14, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.94% to 825.01.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

On the macro front

The employment situation consensus, PMI services consensus, ISM non-mfg index consensus and the Baker-Hughes rig count due out today.

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