Companies buy insurance that usually pays out when they have to halt operations. But it’s usually because of physical damage, not outbreaks.
Two years ago Munich Re, the reinsurance giant, tried to start underwriting a new kind of insurance — one that would make a company whole if its business tanked in an epidemic. For months, there were no takers.
Then came the coronavirus outbreak.
“Now, quite honestly, we probably have a six-month backlog in getting quotes out,” said Christian Ryan of the risk advisory firm Marsh, which is brokering the policies in partnership with Munich Re and Metabiota, a data analytics firm.
It’s too late to buy coverage for the current outbreak — “We can’t insure a burning building,” Mr. Ryan said — but the daily drumbeat of news about the havoc wrought by the coronavirus in the highly integrated global economy has many executives focused on how they can protect themselves next time.