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Aussie bushfire losses jump; cyber tops business risks; Iran crash payout

The Insurance Council of Australia said insurance losses related to devastating bushfires have reached A$1.34 billion, much higher than its prior estimate of A$939 million. Meanwhile, Suncorp Group Ltd. and Insurance Australia Group Ltd. have suspended the selling of insurance policies in certain areas of Victoria and New South Wales, The Guardian reported.

Cyber incidents have topped Allianz SE's annual ranking of business risks for the first time in 2020. Of the companies surveyed by Allianz, 39% of them said cyber is their biggest risk.

Aviation war insurers are expected to shoulder the payout for the hull loss of a Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800 that crashed shortly after takeoff, Insurance Insider reported. Iran admitted that its military accidentally shot down the commercial airliner, killing all passengers and crew members.

Demotech has warned that a number of Florida insurance carriers could be downgraded, saying they have sustained a "financial shock" from recent changes in the cost of catastrophe reinsurance, Artemis reported.

Global M&A activity is expected to continue at a slow pace in 2020, dragged down by a potential decline in deals in North America, where companies are in "wait-and-see mode" amid lingering trade, economic and political uncertainties, Willis Towers Watson PLC said.

A Texas jury awarded United Services Automobile Association $102.8 million after finding that Wells Fargo & Co. willfully infringed on certain of the insurer's patents.

Health Insurance Innovations Inc. extended its ongoing strategic review process, which may lead to a partial or full sale of the company.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation approved an Edison Insurance Co. homeowner rate filing requesting an overall rate increase of 21.9%, including a hike of 22.4% on owner-occupied business written on policy form HO-3.

Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty Insurance Co. Inc. agreed to acquire all the insurance policies of Anchor Property & Casualty Insurance Co. The Florida-based provider of homeowners insurance had 43,209 policies in force, representing about $69 million in annualized premium as of June 30, 2019.

Cigna Ventures has invested in digital health companies Buoy Health Inc. and RecoveryOne.

Skuld is selling Lloyd's of London Syndicate 1897 and its roughly £150 million of associated run-off liabilities, with Willis Towers Watson Securities running the process, the Insider wrote.

South Korean insurers want the introduction of the new IFRS 17 accounting standards to be delayed, The Korea Times reported, quoting an official from the Korea Life Insurance Association. The official said insurers would have to hold a large amount of capital ahead of the introduction.

Now featured on S&P Global Market Intelligence

Calmer politics, Medicare Advantage growth bode well for health insurer earnings: Among the top 10 publicly traded health insurers, Molina is the lone company that is projected to see both earnings and revenues decline year over year in the fourth quarter of 2019.

S&P Global Market Intelligence on Jan. 13 released fourth-quarter 2019 capital markets league tables for its covered North American sectors, including insurance.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: India mulls new regulatory body; AMP to consolidate operations

Europe: Possible new Wirecard probe; Danske job cuts; Credit Suisse fossil fuel defense

Middle East & Africa: Bank Audi mulls unit sale; Beltone eyes expansion; SCB Cameroun gets new boss

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng decreased 0.24% to 28,885.14, while the Nikkei 225 rose 0.73% to 24,025.17.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.23% to 7,600.13, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.14% to 1,154.97.

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 NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, CPI and the Redbook are due out today.

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