February 4th, 2011

Week’s Top Stories: Jan. 29 - Feb. 4, 2011

Posted at 10:00 AM ET

Update: Tropical Cyclone Yasi:   Tropical Cyclone Yasi made landfall near Mission Beach along the northern coastline of Queensland in Australia at around 14:00 UTC on February 2 with sustained winds of around 240 kmph (150 mph), according to reports. The wind speeds are equivalent to a category 4 cyclone on the Saffir Simpson Scale and a category 5 cyclone on the Australian Tropical Cyclone Intensity Scale, making Yasi one of the strongest cyclones to hit Queensland since records began. Yasi came ashore around 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Innisfail, pounding communities in the area with destructive winds and heavy rain. The landfall point was also to the south of Cairns (population of around 165,000) and to the north of Townsville (180,000), sparing both cities the worst of the severe weather but subjecting them to tropical storm-force winds, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). The JTWC added that Yasi was a large storm at landfall, with hurricane-force winds extending around 145 kilometers (90 miles) from its center and tropical storm-force winds extending 400 kilometers (250 miles).

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Global Reinsurance Outlook: Points of Inflection, Positioning for Change in a Challenging Market: Executive Summary:  Early predictions that January 1, 2011 reinsurance renewal rates were likely to fall have been proven correct.

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2011 Reinsurance Renewal Rates: Global Marine & Energy: Reinsurance rate on line (ROL) for the international marine and energy market varied by sector at the January 1, 2011 renewal. Hull and war and marine liability were both flat, with cargo flat to down 5 percent and energy and energy liability up 10 percent to 15 percent.

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2011 Reinsurance Renewal Rates: Global Aviation & Aerospace: With continuing reductions in the direct airline market and capacity in excess of 200 percent, primary insurance rates will continue to drop in 2011. This will lead to more pressure on the reinsurance market to offer reductions, except in the event of a major incident or a substantial drop in capacity.

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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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Coping with Solvency II:  The timing of Solvency II regulations may create a “perfect storm” for insurers as they struggle to cope with challenging pricing and lower investment returns. Solvency II is expected to be finalized in 2011 and implemented by 2013. Under the Standard Formula, companies will be required to maintain more capital per unit of risk, encouraging diversification. Although these are good objectives in principle, they may compound an already difficult operating environment in the short-term.

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