FILE PHOTO: Customers use ATMs at a branch of Lloyds Bank in London, Britain, February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) – Lloyd’s of London [SOLYD.UL] is reviewing the way insurance products are designed and sold as it calls for simpler products in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the commercial insurance market said on Monday.

Insurers have suffered reputational damage as a result of complex products which are hard for businesses to understand, leading to court cases over whether policyholders are covered for the pandemic in countries including Britain, France and the United States.

“The insurance industry must urgently reassess how it can better serve and support its customers,” Lloyd’s Chief Executive John Neal said in a statement.

He said it was imperative to build simpler insurance products that are more easily understood.

Lloyd’s, which runs an insurance market of more than 90 syndicate members, said it would review how products were developed, designed and sold.

It also laid out recommendations for simpler products in a report published on Monday.

These include insurers carrying out a “linguistics review” of policy documents, investing in new products such as parametric insurance which pay out immediately when specific triggers are hit, and involving customers in product design.

A test case over business interruption insurance brought by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) against eight insurers, including several with a presence at Lloyd’s, is heading for the appeal courts after the regulator said the initial judgment ruled mainly in favour of policyholders.

The case, which is expected to affect more than 60 insurers, 370,000 policyholders and billions in insurance claims, is being closely watched overseas.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by David Clarke

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When Covid-19 hit, Aspetto cofounder and CEO Abbas Haider, like lots of small-business owners, was nervous that business would fall. After all, the biggest buyers for his company’s bullet-resistant clothes and tactical gear were federal agencies, which he figured would be focused elsewhere. “We thought a lot of the funding from defense contracts was going to go to PPE,” he says. “We thought business was going to hurt during Covid.”

Instead, Fredericksburg, Virginia-based Aspetto’s business boomed. It now expects revenue to reach $12.5 million this year, up from less than $2 million in 2019, when he company hit a rough spot. Haider and his cofounder Robert Davis, both 30, are already beginning to line up contracts for 2021 (they say they have $14 million worth secured now), when they expect revenue to surpass $25 million. Since the beginning of the year, they’ve won multi-million-dollar deals to make female specific tactical gear for the U.S. Air Force, armored vests for Homeland Security, ballistic shields for the Internal Revenue Service, stab vests for the Bureau of Prisons, and more.

“Innovation is what really helped us,” Haider says. “The reason we were able to develop these better solutions for the military is that we were looking at it from a different perspective, from fashion.”

Haider’s original idea for the business was to create fashionable body armor, which has long been utilitarian if ugly. While in college at the University of Mary Washington, he teamed up with classmate Davis to start the company in 2008. They bet that U.S. government agencies would be willing to pay for better looking bullet-resistant clothes for their employees in unsafe locales; its men’s suits are stylish, but often cost an extra $3,500 to be outfitted with armor

Insurance companies are getting even more time to implement a new rule for valuing long-term contracts following a vote by the Financial Accounting Standards Board on Wednesday.

The rule maker, which sets accounting standards for companies and nonprofits in the U.S., in June proposed a delay of another year for the new rule amid the economic harm caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The rule was first delayed by a year last November to give companies more time to modernize their processes for reporting and valuation.

Insurance firms must review assumptions used to measure the value of their long-term contractual obligations and make revisions if needed. Long-term contracts include agreements on annuities, endowments and title insurance. Short-duration contracts usually cover property and liability protection.

Publicly listed insurers, excluding small ones, may now delay implementing the new standard until after Dec. 15, 2022. All others are allowed to wait until after Dec. 15, 2024.

Insurance companies in comment letters to FASB said a delay would give them time to address coronavirus hurdles and adequately prepare for the new standard by, for example, testing internal controls and educating management and investors.

Columbus, Ga.-based insurer

Aflac Inc.

was prepared for another potential delay in the new standard, Chief Financial Officer Max Brodén said. Challenges stemming from the pandemic have forced Aflac to revise its business goals and timelines, including for issues such as implementing new accounting rules, Chief Accounting Officer June Howard wrote in an Aug. 6 letter to FASB.

Principal Financial Group Inc.,

a Des Moines, Iowa-based insurer, is currently developing new valuation models and will update its actuarial systems to comply with the new rule, finance chief Deanna Strable-Soethout said. The delay


SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — More Americans signed contracts to buy homes in August, suggesting the hot U.S. housing market will continue to churn well into fall.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its index of pending sales rose 8.8% to a record high of 132.8. An index of 100 represents the level of contract activity in 2001. It had sunk to a low of 69 in April, when buyers and sellers were sidelined as the coronavirus swept through the U.S.

Contract signings are a barometer of finalized purchases over the next two months, so this