By Berengere Sim
Of Financial News
The U.K.'s largest insurer, which has a property fund that invests in real estate across the country, is warning the U.K. property market could face a 12% slump in the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic alongside a 15% drop in commercial property.
As it released its first-quarter results Thursday, Aviva PLC said that Covid-19 related claims will cost it 160 million pounds ($196 million) as the insurance sector reels from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and global lockdowns. The insurer's property fund is currently suspended--meaning money cannot be withdrawn by investors--as of March 18, amid pandemic-triggered market volatility.
In line with Aviva's predictions, U.K. residential property transactions in April slumped by 53% compared to the same period last year, according to figures released Thursday by the U.K. government, which tracks the figures using property tax payments.
Aviva said that its solvency ratio--which indicates whether or not a company's cash flow is sufficient to meet its liabilities--which is inclusive of the pandemic's impacts, is estimated at 182% as of March 31, down from 206% as of Dec. 31, 2019. The FTSE-100 company reported that, as of April 30, its company liquidity was GBP2.5 billion.
"At 31 March, our estimated solvency ratio remains strong at 182% and incorporates Covid-19 related impacts," said the chief executive, Maurice Tulloch, in a statement.
He added: "The economic outlook remains uncertain and will affect our business, however the strength of our capital and liquidity means we are well positioned to manage this crisis and continue to support our customers."
Lloyd's of London, the insurance marketplace, said on May 14 that it is set to pay between $3 billion and $4.3 billion to customers as a result of the pandemic. It also predicted a $203 billion loss for the insurance sectors over 2020.
Other insurance firms around the world have also reported similar challenges: German reinsurance company Munich Re said earlier this month that it had received 800 million euros ($876.9 million) in claims related to the virus and reinsurance heavyweight Swiss Re reported a $467 million hit to its underwriting business.
Looking ahead, Aviva reported early trends that have seen new business sales decline due to government-enforced confinement measures.
"Sales volumes for the year overall are likely to remain below expectations," Aviva's statement said.