What You Need to Know
- The pandemic death count estimate is up from 129,000 in the fourth quarter of 2021.
- Analysts expect the COVID-19 impact on claims to be similar to what it was in the fourth quarter.
- The analysts expect higher interest rates to help life and annuity block sales but increased regulator scrutiny to hurt.
Morgan Stanley securities analysts are assuming that the current quarter has been another terrible period for COVID-19 mortality in the United States.
Nigel Dally and other Morgan Stanley analysts are estimating that COVID-19 and other pandemic-related illnesses will kill 155,000 to 160,000 in the period from January through March.
If that prediction is correct, the U.S. pandemic death total will be down from about 192,000 in the first quarter of 2021, but up from 129,000 in the fourth quarter of 2021, and up from about 120,000 in the third quarter of 2021.
The analysts based COVID-19 death figures on data compiled by Refinitiv.
Based on what U.S. insurers have said about how their life insurance and annuity death benefits claims correlate with total U.S. COVID-19 mortality, 158,000 U.S. COVID-19 deaths could reduce some big, publicly traded life insurers’ first-quarter earnings by about 11 cents to 91 cents per share, according to the analysis.
The analysts included the COVID-19 impact assessment in a commentary on what they’re hearing about the upcoming quarterly results releases.
What It Means
Financial professionals need to continue to tell clients that this is an important time to keep any life insurance available in force.
They will also face continuing uncertainty about how long clients can expect to live in retirement.