Insurers investing in Covid-related research projects could be looking to reduce the long-term costs of future risks

By Jon Guy

The launch of a new national research programme, designed to inform and underpin a society that is more resilient to future pandemics, has been backed by the insurance sector - this may well point to a shift in strategy when it comes to funding.

At a time when insurers are looking to businesses to become more risk aware, The Pandemic Institute (TPI) in Liverpool last month (January 2023) confirmed the creation of eight new research projects – these aim to assess the longer-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on UK and global health.

Jon Guy

Jon Guy

The TPI launched an initial funding call in September 2022. It has since received a string of research applications.

For example, on 30 January 2023, insurer Aviva stepped up to provide £225,000 of funding, which enabled the eight research projects to be undertaken.

The first two research projects will focus on the impact of Covid-19 in the city of Liverpool and the surrounding area.

Professor Tom Solomon, director of The Pandemic Institute, said: “We are very proud to announce these eight research projects into differing strands of Covid-19, which have been made possible by Aviva’s generous grant.

“This will help us take further steps forward in continuing to tackle Covid-19 and also to be better prepared for the future.

“The work we do from Liverpool has national and international impact and being able to further expand our research through these eight submissions will help keep us at the fore of the challenges around and solutions to Covid-19 and how best to recover from a pandemic.”

Able to cover risks

Aviva’s funding may well signal a growing trend from underwriters to put their reserves into creating more resilience around major global risks which could test the market’s financial strength in the future.

David Schofield, sustainability director at Aviva, explained that the research donation was part of the insurer’s ambitions around supporting greater resilience in the UK population.

He said: “Part of Aviva’s sustainability ambition is to make 10 million people more resilient by 2025.

“As part of this, we’re committed to help build health and wellbeing resilience by investing in the big challenges our customers and communities face.

“Funding research into how we can build stronger communities is so important. We are delighted to be able support The Pandemic Institute and look forward to the outcomes of this work.”

The costs of Covid-19 were extreme and the impact of climate change is already creating warnings from insurers about the ability of the market to provide cover at affordable prices for what are fast becoming larger and more severe risks.

It has long been the case that prevention is better than cure – therefore, partnerships that focus on resilience, not restitution, are increasingly being seen as a more cost effective option.