September 30th, 2009

Top 10 Stories: September 2009

Posted at 4:00 PM ET

1. Guy Carpenter Addresses the Return of Capital to the Reinsurance Industry at Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous: Guy Carpenter & Company, LLC hosted a press briefing at Rendez-Vous in Monte-Carlo on September 5, 2009, focusing on the return of capital to the reinsurance market. Brian Duperreault, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., opened the briefing. Peter Zaffino, President and CEO of Guy Carpenter, then led a panel of Guy Carpenter executives that included Vice Chairman Richard Booth, Henry Keeling, President and CEO of International Operations, Chris Klein, Global Head of Business Intelligence and David Priebe, Chairman of Global Client Development.

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2. Typhoon Ketsana: A powerful earthquake that struck in the South Pacific Ocean at 17:48:11 UTC (06:48:11 local time) on September 29, 2009 generated a series of tsunamis that caused devastation in Samoa (population of 180,000 people), American Samoa (population of 65,000 people) and Tonga (population of 120,000 people). The earthquake, measuring 8.0 Mw, was located around 115 miles (185 kilometers) east-northeast of Hihifo in Tonga and 125 miles (195 kilometers) south of Apia in Samoa, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

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3. Guy Carpenter’s 2009 World Catastrophe Report Finds Rates Rising as Industry Rides out Financial Crisis: Guy Carpenter & Company, LLC’s annual survey of the global property catastrophe reinsurance market, World Catastrophe Reinsurance Market 2009, finds reinsurance rates increasing by an average eight percent through the 2009 reinsurance renewals. The report states that the increase was largely a result of the financial crisis and its negative impact on reinsurers’ balance sheets, and exacerbated by Hurricanes Ike and Gustav. The study also concludes that little movement in reinsurance rates should be expected at the January 1, 2010 reinsurance renewal, barring a major property catastrophe or financial set back.

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4. World Catastrophe Reinsurance Market 2009: Executive Summary: Reinsurance rates increased by 8 percent through the 2009 reinsurance renewals, as measured by the Guy Carpenter World Catastrophe Rate on Line (ROL) Index. Upward pressure came largely from the impact of the 2008 financial catastrophe on reinsurers’ balance sheets, which was exacerbated by the effects of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. At the January 1, 2010 renewal, reinsurance rates are likely to show little movement, unless a major property catastrophe or financial shock occurs.

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5. Cat Bond Update: 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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6. Casualty Specialty Update: The Credit Crunch and Reinsurance: When problems in the subprime mortgage market erupted into a full financial catastrophe last year, conventional wisdom suggested that property and casualty (P&C) insurance companies would suffer. The culprit, many believed, would not be investments in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) like the life insurers. Rather, it would be the possibility of slipped bond ratings because of problems with bond insurers, ultimately lowering the value of the bonds held in P&C investment portfolios. The increase in insured losses as a direct result of subprime and the ensuing credit crunch would certainly drive P&C companies to have poor returns, the thinking continued. Even at the mid-point of 2008, talk of a turn in the market began to percolate.

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7. Inflation Threatens Long-Tail (Re)Insurance: Interest rates are low right now, so monetary inflation is not an issue in the short term for the (re)insurance market. Look into the future a bit, however, and you can see how monetary inflation could turn into a threat. In two to five years, the effects of such measures as “quantitative easing” (i.e., a government’s pumping money into a financial system to attain near-term stability) will be visited upon long-tail (re)insurers. Further, other inflationary factors will continue to increase the cost of writing this type of business. Legal inflation, medical inflation, social inflation and emerging risk inflation are poised to drive the cost of underwriting long-tail risks ahead of monetary inflation. Planning for these elevated costs now can make a profound impact on future profitability.

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8. A Stable Market Prepares for 2010: At this time last year, the reinsurance market was vastly different. A financial catastrophe and major hurricane occurred and changed the way (re)insurers viewed risk. As both events receded, our industry was left with profound uncertainty. More than being concerned about the direction of reinsurance rates at the January 1, 2009 renewal, carriers worried that a widespread capital shortage was imminent, impairing their abilities to assume and transfer risk. Despite the severity of the financial and natural catastrophes the reinsurance market proceeded in an orderly fashion, with property-catastrophe rates up 10 percent to 15 percent on average and other segments not significantly impacted.

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9. ERM Did Not Fail in 2008, Part I: A Year of Significant Loss: The profound financial damage that began last year has left the insurance industry looking for answers. Diligent underwriting and conservative investment strategies were not enough to prevent natural and financial catastrophes from bleeding balance sheets. Both firm leadership teams and key stakeholders have questioned the value of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) frameworks, yet the conclusion that ERM failed may be hasty. After all, the insurance industry actually survived the events of 2008 reasonably well, with at least some of the credit going to their ERM efforts. Where risk management did fail, the underlying causes were deeper.

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10. Optimize Capital Allocation with Co-xTVaR: In choosing a capital allocation method, firms must balance the sophistication of the method with calculation time and resource commitment. One approach, co-xTVaR, strikes a balance between theoretical soundness and efficiency. In a capital-constrained environment, using co-xTVaR to allocate the cost of capital can provide a clear competitive advantage.

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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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