In an interview with Fox Business News’s Maria Bartiromo, Evan Greenberg, Chairman and CEO of Chubb, talked about the response to recent catastrophes, including Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria, and their impact on the insurance industry. The interview, which aired September 21 on the U.S. business television network, also covered Chubb’s growth opportunities, tax reform, the company’s Brexit-related decision to move its EU headquarters to Paris, and the role the private sector could play in flood insurance in the U.S.
“We’ve had three hurricanes and two earthquakes in a month’s time,” said Mr. Greenberg. “The suffering – the enormity of the tragedy just to human life – our hearts go out to all these people and our job is to support them in their time of need right now.”
“No one has a great handle on this yet, but it has to be in the $50 billion-$70 billion range in total among all three events,” Mr. Greenberg continued. “And let’s not forget the two earthquakes in Mexico and the tragedy of that. It’s just unfolding now.”
Mr. Greenberg noted that the company already has teams on the ground in Puerto Rico, with additional resources ready to fly in when the airport reopens. Chubb’s team handling Irma and Harvey includes more than 400 dedicated staff on the ground and in service centers. “We have examined more than 75% of all of the losses that have come in on Harvey, and we are well on our way to doing the same thing with Irma.”
“Over the last 15 years, two-thirds of our growth has come organically, only one-third through acquisition. Frankly, while I wouldn’t say we are ever done making acquisitions – in that regard, stay tuned. But if this company never makes another acquisition, the growth opportunity in front of us is simply enormous."
“As economies grow, as people rise into middle income, as business develops so does exposure – and so does the opportunity to grow our business. Our growth opportunity in the United States is tremendous, particularly among small- and medium-sized enterprises as well as personal insurance. In Asian and Latin America, where we have a tremendous presence, the rise of the middle-class and the growth of those economies [present a] tremendous opportunity for insurers because there’s more exposure and more for people to lose. So insurance is a necessary part of the economic plumbing."
“Tax reform for business has two important priorities: bring the rate down to as low as possible and, secondly, territorial tax system, which we don’t have today. As you know, we tax worldwide income on companies ... so we are at a disadvantage. We don’t incent companies to bring capital back to our economy. If we implement this kind of tax reform, the stimulus to our economy will be tremendous, and that would spur growth of business, growth of jobs, it will raise incomes of individuals and, for insurance, that is a growth opportunity.”
“We are establishing our European continental headquarters in Paris, France. We have done business there for many years. We have a very large presence in France. The government and the regulation in France: they are enlightened and the government has been quite accommodating. We picked France because we think that’s the best place to locate Chubb’s European headquarters.”
“When it comes to disaster relief and disaster recovery … the government always has a role to play. But when it comes to insuring these [catastrophic flood] events, particularly when you get to the peril of flood insurance, the private sector can do much more, and frankly the government distorts markets, distorts the behaviors of individuals by underpricing, and encouraging people to live in areas where they are at peril.”