December 5th, 2008

Slovenia: Catastrophe Reinsurance Market 2008

Posted at 1:00 AM ET

Hamish Dowlen, Senior Vice President
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2008 Reinsurance Market Position

The Slovenian market differs from most other countries in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region. It is dominated by two large insurance groups, Sava and Triglav. Both have active reinsurance companies writing business across Europe and around the world. These reinsurance companies soak up a large proportion of the domestic exposures, though they purchase external retrocession protection on parts of their domestic accounts.

Earthquake exposures are traditionally protected on a proportional basis. Prices have declined slightly for excess of loss programs.

Catastrophe Exposure

The principal catastrophe perils in Slovenia are earthquake, flood, and hail. Slovenia is an active seismic zone, particularly in the northwest and central regions of the country. One of the most vulnerable areas is Ljubljana, the capital, which has experienced five major earthquakes in the last 1,000 years. Ljubljana sustained considerable damage following a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in 1895; close to 10 percent of the city’s buildings were damaged.

Slovenia’s most recent destructive earthquake struck in April 1998, affecting the municipalities of Bovec, Kobarid, and Tolmin on the Slovenian/Italian border. Economic losses were estimated to be USD11 million, and 3,000 houses were damaged.

Parts of Slovenia are highly exposed to flood. However, serious floods are rare, and insurance payouts have been limited because of the relatively low level of household insurance penetration in flood-exposed areas. The last major flood occurred in 1990 and was considered to be a 100-year return period event. Insured losses were around USD5 million.

The hail peril is also a significant peril in Slovenia. While insured exposures are not large, medium-sized losses periodically impact the insurance and reinsurance industries.

Insurance Availability

Slovenia is one of the smallest countries in the region. But, it is historically important for the reinsurance market because of the two professional reinsurance companies within the two major insurance groups based in Ljubljana.

Household insurance penetration outside urban areas is still relatively low, so insurers have been spared, to some extent, from substantial losses caused by natural hazard events. Nevertheless, non-life premium spend per capita of USD450 is relatively high for the region. Coverage for earthquake, storm, and flood is generally sold only as part of the additional coverage package for buildings insurance, although flood is generally included as standard “within household contents” policies. In general, coverage is given for full values if the additional coverage package is purchased, although some first-loss policies exist for commercial and industrial risks.

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