Lloyd’s of London, Parsyl to insure COVID-19 vaccine distribution in emerging markets

FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker administers a Pfizer/BioNTEch coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine to personal support worker Anita Quidangen at The Michener Institute, in Toronto

LONDON (Reuters) -Lloyd’s of London and insurtech firm Parsyl have launched a development finance-backed programme to insure the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in emerging markets as a global vaccination programme to halt the deadly virus gathers pace.

COVID-19 vaccine distribution is a headache for insurers, who are concerned about the extra-cold temperatures required to transport vaccines such as the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the first Western vaccine off the drawing board. Theft or cyber attacks on the supply chain are an added worry.

Governors in more than two dozen U.S. States and territories are planning on using the National Guard in some capacity for COVID-19 vaccine distribution at this point, the Guard said on Monday.

The Global Health Risk Facility (GHRF), made up of 14 insurers and reinsurers, has been set up to address the challenges of transporting temperature-sensitive vaccines, and will be supported by $26.7 million in funding from the U.S International Development Finance Corporation, the companies said on Tuesday.

The DFC loan will be used to capitalize a new public-private Lloyd’s syndicate and allow the GHRF to offer cost-effective insurance policies for shipments of vaccines and medical products to developing countries.

The facility will begin underwriting in January. Syndicate 1796 is the first public-private partnership to address a global health emergency in Lloyd’s 330-year history, the companies said.

“By unleashing the power of data, we’re addressing a critical insurance gap when the world needs it most,” Ben Hubbard, Chief Executive at Parsyl said.

“It’s now time to vaccinate the world and we’re so proud to be contributing to this monumental global effort.”

As part of the programme, AXA XL is providing risk consulting services.

(Reporting by Sinead Cruise and Carolyn Cohn, editing by Huw Jones and Louise Heavens)