October 4th, 2009

Top Stories of 3Q2009

Posted at 1:00 AM ET

1. 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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2. 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. For the marine sector, rates were up 5 percent to 10 percent, based mostly on loss history and catastrophe exposure. With four major renewal periods covered this year, a sense of calm has emerged. The general reinsurance market is tepid, with a few hotspots based on region- or program-specific factors.

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3. 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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4. 1H2009 Reinsurer Financial Update: Capital Returns: Underwriting and investment gains contributed to a general increase in capital in the first half of 2009. Some reinsurers have even regained half or more of what they lost as a result of last year’s hurricanes and financial shocks. Financial market stability has opened several options unthinkable nine months ago, including share buybacks, dividends and even maintaining a bit of extra capital as a cushion — after all, it was the excess capital held at the beginning of last year that helped reinsurers withstand the effects of the financial crisis.

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5. 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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6. 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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7. 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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8. What Does Solvency II Mean for Insurance Groups?: When Solvency II becomes effective in 2012, group support — which would have allowed capital held at the group level to cover the requirements of any company in the group — will be not permitted. This prohibition will require group entities to hold capital according to the Solvency Capital Requirements (SCR) in each individual entity. The application of group-level diversification benefits to individual entities will not be allowed. This last-minute change to the original framework directive may cause some groups to change their structures. At a minimum, they are likely to rethink how much risk capital will be carried at the group level versus the operating entity level given that the risk capital needed in the group will increase without recognition of group support.

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9. 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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10. 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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* 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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