April 6th, 2010

Top 10 Stories: 1Q 2010

Posted at 2:00 PM ET

1. Rates Retreat as Capital Rebounds: Global Reinsurance Renewals at January 1, 2010:  Reinsurance rates for most lines of business decreased at the January 1, 2010 renewal. The Guy Carpenter World Catastrophe Rate on Line (ROL) Index decreased by 6 percent in response to a swift and substantial recovery in the capitalization of the reinsurance sector. The combination of the rally in investment markets, much reduced catastrophe loss activity and recessionary effects on demand resulted in an excess of supply and increased competition. This was reflected in a slow renewal in which many contracts closed very late in the season as buyers sought to gain maximum advantage. The overall movements in pricing have also occurred against a complicated background of exposure adjustments, model revisions, program changes and other market noise.

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2. 2009 Catastrophe Update: Global Insured Losses in 2009:   2009 has seen an impressive recovery from last year’s financial crisis and the uncertainty caused by losses from Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike. This recovery has been driven by the easing of financial markets and low catastrophe activity. A very quiet hurricane season, coupled with relatively low losses for other weather-related events, meant insured losses reached USD24 billion in 2009, the lowest figure since 2006 and a significant fall from USD52.5 billion in 2008.

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3.  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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4.  2009 Catastrophe Update: Outlook for 2010:  Predictions that the El Niño phenomenon is likely to persist through the northern hemisphere winter and into spring could have a significant impact on natural hazards worldwide next year. El Niño events have historically produced floods and drought in the more impoverished regions of the world such as southern Africa and parts of South America. Prolonged dry periods may occur in Southeast Asia, Southern Africa and Northern Australia during an El Niño event, while heavy rainfall and flooding have hit Peru and Ecuador in the past. In the United States, El Niño’s potential impact includes above-average precipitation in the south, with below-average rainfall in the Pacific Northwest and the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys.

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5.  2009 Catastrophe Update: Other Significant Events of 2009:  In 2009, there were frequent reminders of the risks posed by earthquakes, and it was Asia again that suffered the most when two massive earthquakes struck Indonesia and the Samoa region in the space of a day. The most deadly earthquake of the year hit southern Sumatra in Indonesia on September 30, killing more than 1,100 people. The earthquake, measuring 7.6Mw, left around 500,000 people homeless after 250,000 homes were damaged, half of them completely destroyed.

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6.  (Re)Insurance Innovation: Committing to the Leading Edge, Part I: Overview:   The threats to which (re)insurers’ capital is exposed seem to multiply with alarming regularity. Today, the industry is contending with risks that were barely imaginable (at best) 20 years ago. In an age when carriers must respond to casualty catastrophes, the possible effects of climate change and financial market calamity - perhaps all on the same earnings call - it’s natural to wonder if the right tools and techniques for the job are available. Risk and capital management have only grown in complexity, a trajectory that is quite likely to continue - and probably accelerate.

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7.  Nine Months 2009: Guy Carpenter Global Reinsurance Composite:  The members of the Guy Carpenter Global Reinsurance Composite saw their total net income more than double to almost $10 billion thanks to strong underwriting results and a substantial recovery in asset values. Shareholders’ equity for the composite rose by 17 percent to reach almost the same level seen at the end of 2007 before the financial crisis took its full effect.

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8.  Solvency II - Gearing up for tougher Capital Requirements:  The development of Solvency II continues to be one of the most significant regulatory developments for the insurance industry applicable to both primary carriers and reinsurers. European insurers are starting to focus now on the risk-sensitive regime they will face in 2012, especially on the impact of the risk-based quantitative requirements for measuring financial positions and capital adequacy.

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9.  Catastrophe Bond Market Continues to Improve*:   Despite the challenging financial conditions of late 2008 and early 2009, the catastrophe bond market continued to play a critical role for both sponsors and investors over the past 12 months. Throughout the year, as financial markets stabilized generally, catastrophe bond issuance conditions continued to improve. In 2009 USD3.4 billion of risk capital was issued through 18 transactions. In terms of risk capital, this is a 25 percent increase over 2008. After declining over the first two quarters of 2009, total catastrophe bond risk principal outstanding increased from USD12.0 billion at year-end 2008 to USD12.2 billion at year-end 2009, reflecting a particularly strong fourth quarter for issuance.

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10.  US Property Catastrophe Market January 2010 Renewals:  The US property catastrophe reinsurance renewal at January 2010 demonstrated a measurable decline in pricing overall compared with the renewal at 2009. Analysis of the complete January 2010 renewal dataset indicates the US Catastrophe Rate on Line index retreated by an average of 10 percent, allowing for the impact of the major prior adjustments to the catastrophe models. A reduction in the ratio of signed to authorized lines from 94 percent to 85 percent is a further sign that capacity is up and a more competitive market has emerged.

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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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