Monday, May 23, 2011

Lloyd's of London warns insurers to raise premiums or risk collapse

There is so much excess capacity that I don't know of anyone but Berkshire who is going to show an underwriting profit. Over the last six months the boardroom talk among re-insurers has been "How to return capital to shareholders".*
From the Guardian:
Lloyd's chief says 'we've been lucky' despite £2.3bn hit from earthquakes and floods as industry braces for Atlantic hurricanes

Insurers that fail to put up premiums will be the first to collapse if another big natural disaster strikes, the head of the Lloyd's of London insurance market warns.

Richard Ward, chief executive of Lloyd's, says the London market's lucky streak of relatively benign Atlantic hurricane seasons may be coming to an end, and that the next big natural catastrophe will hit the industry's capital, not just earnings, unless rates rise.

Firms insuring property against catastrophe risk, as well as marine insurers that insure oil rigs, would be among the worst affected. However, rising commercial premiums would feed through into higher household rates, industry experts say.

The key Atlantic storm season starts next month. "For the last two years we have been lucky," Ward will say at an industry conference on Tuesday. "Despite some highly active seasons – last year 12 hurricanes formed – none made landfall in the US. At some point our luck will run out."

After a string of costly disasters – the Japanese and New Zealand earthquakes and the Australian floods – Lloyd's insurers face claims totalling $3.8bn (£2.33bn), which already exceeds total losses for last year. The industry as a whole has been hit by losses of at least $50bn if the impact from recent US tornadoes is included....MORE
See the Dec. 30 Bloomberg story "Reinsurance Rates to Fall in January on Overcapacity" among others.
Here's Aon's March 30 roundup:

...Aon Re Global's market expectations, detailed by region, for the June 1
and July 1 renewals:

                                     ROL         Capacity      Retention
                                   Changes       Changes        Changes
    United States:
     Personal lines             Flat to -20%    +10 to +25%    Voluntary
     Standard commercial lines  Flat to -15%     +5 to +20%    Voluntary
     Complex commercial lines   Flat to -10%    Flat to +20%   Voluntary
    Europe                      Flat to  -5%     Plentiful     Voluntary
    United Kingdom                  Flat         Plentiful     Voluntary
    Japan                       Flat to  -5%     Plentiful     Voluntary
    Asia Pacific (Ex. Japan)    -10% to -15%     Plentiful     Voluntary
    Australia                    -5% to -10%     Plentiful     Voluntary
    Canada                      Flat to -10%     Plentiful     Voluntary
    South America                -5% to -20%     Plentiful     Voluntary
    Mexico                      -10% to -20%     Plentiful     Voluntary
    Caribbean                    -5% to -10%     +5 to +20%    Voluntary