July 31st, 2009

Top 10 Stories: July 2009

Posted at 5:00 PM ET

1. Prop-Cat Reinsurance Rate Increases Steady at July 1 Renewal: Property-catastrophe reinsurance rate increases were steady at the July 1, 2009 renewal. In the United States and Latin America, capacity was sufficient to meet demand. U.S. property-catastrophe reinsurance rates increased 15 percent year-over-year, in line with the trend from January to June. In Latin America, preliminary data varied by country, but upward pressure on pricing was offset by supply and local market competition to keep reinsurance rate increases contained.

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2. Cat Bond Second Quarter 2009*: The catastrophe bond market continues to advance, though issuances are down from 2008. The activity represents a positive rally from the hiatus during the second half of 2008. For the first half of 2009, nine bonds have been issued, with aggregate risk capital of USD1.38 billion. The continuing stabilization of financial markets and a decrease in catastrophe bond spreads, however, could result in more issuance activity in the second half of the year, particularly for sponsors which had considered issuances in the first and second quarters but deferred their plans because catastrophe bond spreads were considered to be too wide (i.e., catastrophe bond protection was considered to be too expensive).

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3. Get the Most Out of Cat Models, Part I: Manage the Unknown: Insurer and reinsurer reliance on catastrophe models has become part of the fabric of risk management. Though they provide guidance rather than clear courses of action, these tools help quantify risk and deploy their capital as effectively as possible. But, they aren’t perfect. Every catastrophe model has specific strengths and weaknesses, which is why risk-bearers tend to use several models to evaluate exposures, with the final decisions on whether to cover a particular risk shaped by loss history, company objectives and risk manager judgment. As a result, models are crucial to (re)insurer success … as long as they are used properly.

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4. U.S. D&O Reinsurance Renewals at July 1, 2009: Consistent with the overall trend of the past six months, the July 1, 2009 directors and officers (D&O) reinsurance renewal cycle in the United States was one characterized by increased concerns about how an economy that is continuing to sputter will impact commercial D&O profitability going forward and a lack of reinsurance capacity.

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5. Beware the Benign Hurricane Forecast: The 2009 hurricane season is expected to be moderate, but that’s no reason to let your defenses down. In setting your expectations for the coming months, it pays to consider severity as well as frequency. Most major forecasts address the number of storms anticipated — but they don’t account for severity. A mild Atlantic hurricane season could still trigger outsized insured losses, and an exposed (re)insurer could feel the shocks on its bottom line, return on equity (ROE) ratio, and even market capitalization.

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6. 7/1 European Casualty Renewals: The July renewal does not affect a large number of cedents in Europe, but the programs that did renew suggest a continuation of the year’s broader themes. Hotspots across the market at the January renewal have persisted as expected, though the recent renewal was not robust enough to support forecasts for January 1, 2010.

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7. Risk Profile, Appetite, and Tolerance: Fundamental Concepts in Risk Management and Reinsurance Effectiveness: Prior to the recent turbulence in the financial markets, insurers and reinsurers were increasing their use of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) to make risk and capital management decisions. While this was driven in part by rating agencies and regulators, many carriers began to recognize the value of metric-based frameworks and capital models in evaluating their portfolios.

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8. Enhance Capital Productivity When a Hurricane Is Coming: September 2008 brought two major shocks to the global (re)insurance industry. The financial catastrophe captured the headlines, ultimately depleting reinsurer capital by 18 percent, as measured by the Guy Carpenter Global Reinsurance Composite. At the same time, Hurricane Ike pushed through the Gulf of Mexico eventually costing carriers USD11.5 billion. These two events have left the industry in a capital-constrained environment. While last year’s surplus provided a sufficient cushion for absorbing the blows, the days of abundant capital are gone for the foreseeable future.

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9. Global Terror Update: 2009 Global Terror Update summarizes terror insurance market developments in 34 countries across six continents. According to the briefing, developments on a country-by-country basis are being shaped largely by events, including new or evolving threats and local developments in the insurance and reinsurance markets. The update also addresses the impact of terror insurance on the aviation market and looks at recent developments in terror modeling.

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10. Guy Carpenter Wins Reinsurance Initiative of the Year: Guy Carpenter’s intellectual capital website, www.GCCapitalIdeas.com, was selected as the “Reinsurance Broker Initiative of the Year” at the 2009 British Insurance Awards, presented at Royal Albert Hall in London on July 8. The awards, in their 15th year, recognize outstanding performance and innovation throughout the insurance and reinsurance industries. This is the first year for the “Reinsurance Initiative of the Year” category.

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Top Tag: catastrophe bonds

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* Securities or investments, as applicable, are offered in the United States through GC Securities, a division of MMC Securities Corp., a US registered broker-dealer and member FINRA/SIPC. Main Office: 1166 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036. Phone: (212) 345-5000. Securities or investments, as applicable, are offered in the European Union by GC Securities, a division of MMC Securities (Europe) Ltd., which is authorized and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Reinsurance products are placed through qualified affiliates of Guy Carpenter & Company, LLC. MMC Securities Corp., MMC Securities (Europe) Ltd. and Guy Carpenter & Company, LLC are affiliates owned by Marsh & McLennan Companies. This communication is not intended as an offer to sell or a solicitation of any offer to buy any security, financial instrument, reinsurance or insurance product.

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