The President’s Message: Winter 2021
2020 was an extraordinary year. We began the year with the COVID-19 pandemic closing down the country. Everyone, including WRC, had to quickly adapt to the changing situation by wearing masks, learning what social distancing meant, washing hands frequently, eliminating travel, making meetings virtual and limiting the access to our offices. We hoped the pandemic would subside by midyear but that was wishful thinking.
The insurance industry was correctly declared an essential business, which meant that we needed to continue operating. I continue to be impressed by how well our industry has responded to all of this. We continue to write business, pay claims and serve our customers.
Here at WRC, we continue to take the necessary steps to maintain our business operations. Most of our employees now are working from home and those employees who work in the office are taking the appropriate steps to protect one another from the virus. We continue to limit non-essential travel and restrict access to our office. Our goal is to protect our employees and the people and companies we serve.
Because of the pandemic, WRC had to postpone the 2020 Annual Shareholders’ meeting, which was originally scheduled for late April. The meeting was held virtually on August 26. One of the important functions at this meeting was the election of directors. You can read about the individuals reelected here. We look forward to holding the 2021 Annual Shareholders’ meeting in August at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, to celebrate WRC’s 90th anniversary. We hope you will be able to join us.
WRC welcomed three individuals to our leadership team in 2020. Derek Metcalf joined WRC as Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Treasurer, Brett Daniels as Vice President of Reinsurance and Greg Gonnering as Vice President of Mutual Assistance. You can learn more about them here.
We also hoped the weather would be relatively benign but that too was wishful thinking. There were 30 named storms in the Atlantic, which was a new record. Several hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast. Wildfires scorched the West Coast. A derecho in Iowa was one of the worst storms ever sustained in the Midwest. While the storms in the Atlantic and the wildfires on the West Coast did not impact WRC’s reinsured clients, the derecho in Iowa certainly did. This storm created approximately $15 million in losses to WRC alone.
WRC is presently negotiating the renewal of our reinsurance program for 2021. We have heard from a number of our reinsurers that due to the events that have occurred, changes will be needed to companies’ reinsurance programs and insurance company operations. The first change is that primary and reinsurance rates need to be increased. The second change is the need for “communicable disease exclusions” in all reinsurance contracts and policies. The third change is the need for companies to add cyberliability exclusions to policies that are not intended to provide such coverages.
What does all of this mean to WRC and the companies that we reinsure? I believe it means that we will need to begin incorporating these changes into our operations next year. WRC will be addressing these issues in future communications and meetings.
2020 was an extraordinary year and also a challenging one. I can assure you WRC is open for business and continues to serve your reinsurance and related service needs.
Remember, we are one day closer to this being over. Take care and stay safe.