President Trump signed a bill on January 25 to temporarily reopen the government after a 35-day shutdown that impacted 800,000 federal employees. While the property and casualty insurance industry is mostly state regulated, there is a potential for increased filings of lawsuits and insurance claims in cases of longer-term shutdowns.
Most troubling, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may have delayed responses to natural disasters during shutdown periods, affecting how businesses and individuals recover after catastrophes. There also is the risk of the closing of other federal services that the insurance industry needs during prolonged shutdowns.
One of the primary concerns during shutdowns is the suspension of federal employees’ paychecks, impacting their ability to pay for necessities—as well as their insurance premiums. Also, furloughed employees may become incentivized to file compensation claims in periods of prolonged shutdown due to economic strains.
Seven P&C Insurance Monitor firms—Farmers, GEICO, The Hartford, Progressive, State Farm, Travelers and USAA—posted information for federal employees affected by the government shutdown on social media and public and private site pages. All the firms encourage federal employees to call for assistance to receive customer support. USAA was the only firm to address the potential that the government may shut down again following the temporary funding deal.
Farmers linked to a message about the government shutdown on its public site Log In page. The firm encouraged customers affected by the shutdown to contact a service advocate to discuss payment options.
GEICO added a banner on its public site homepage offering support along with a link to a message to policyholders. The firm offered 24/7 support to help clients with their payment options and insurance needs.
After logging in to The Hartford’s private site, a lightbox appeared with a message to federal employees offering alternative payment options during the shutdown. A similar message was displayed on the sidebar of the private site Contact Us page.
On Progressive’s public site homepage, a banner message instructed federal employees to call for assistance during the shutdown.
An Emergency Alert appeared on State Farm’s homepage urging customers experiencing financial hardships due to the government shutdown to talk to their agents.
USAA updated its homepage banner to reflect the government shutdown, linking to a message instructing federal employees to call for assistance.
USAA was the only firm in our coverage group to address the likelihood that the government could shut down again following the temporary funding deal. The firm added a new message on its Government Shutdown Assistance page reflecting this uncertainty.