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Survey Report

Insurance Marketplace Realities 2021 Spring Update – Product recall


April 21, 2021

A delay in increased regulation in Washington, to later in 2021, has resulted in a fairly stable product recall landscape.
Rate predictions
  Trend Range
Product recall: Neutral Increase (Yellow line and purple triangle pointing up) Flat to +5%

Key takeaway

Increased regulation anticipated under a new administration in Washington D.C. is unlikely to take effect until later in 2021, leaving the product recall landscape fairly stable and the insurance marketplace trending slightly more favorably for buyers.

While it has been consistently found that COVID-19 is not transmitted through food, insurers are still seeking to exclude pandemic-related diseases from restaurant coverage.

  • One major carrier will no longer write pandemic endorsements.
  • Another carrier is developing a COVID-19 exclusion.
  • Business interruption losses under restaurant contamination policies hit historic highs due to the prevalence of affirmative pandemic language in these policies. This pandemic coverage is no longer available.

Product safety has been flying a bit under the radar due to government resource constraints during the pandemic, but at a time when consumers are demanding more in terms of product safety, it’s essential that companies safeguard their production processes.

  • The FDA has decided to temporarily cease supplier verification onsite audits.
  • Manufacturers have less management oversight due to the implementation of teleworking.
  • Many manufacturers are looking to diversify their scope of products to fill gaps in consumer demand caused by the current pandemic, but new products come with new risks. These companies should not let their quality control guard down.

Underwriter movement has created excitement in the marketplace — new underwriters are opening once stagnant markets, developing greater market competition.

  • Two leading players have lost some dynamic underwriters to a smaller market, though both markets are still flush with talent.
  • One carrier purchased another’s product recall book of business along with their underwriting leadership.
  • One insurer has developed a broad Canadian-only cannabis product for recall — they are building their brand in anticipation of the likely legalization of cannabis across the entire U.S.


Each applicable policy of insurance must be reviewed to determine the extent, if any, of coverage for COVID-19. Coverage may vary depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances. For global client programs it is critical to consider all local operations and how policies may or may not include COVID-19 coverage. The information contained herein is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with your own legal and/or other professional advisors. Some of the information in this publication may be compiled by third-party sources we consider to be reliable; however, we do not guarantee and are not responsible for the accuracy of such information. We assume no duty in contract, tort or otherwise in connection with this publication and expressly disclaim, to the fullest extent permitted by law, any liability in connection with this publication. Willis Towers Watson offers insurance-related services through its appropriately licensed entities in each jurisdiction in which it operates. The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation and changes are occurring frequently. Willis Towers Watson does not undertake to update the information included herein after the date of publication. Accordingly, readers should be aware that certain content may have changed since the date of this publication. Please reach out to the author or your Willis Towers Watson contact for more information.


Kevin Velan
Director, National Product Recall Team

Shawn McCleary
Broker, National Product Recall Team

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