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Overview of global trends in reinsurance (International reinsurance point of view). Thomas Hess Group Chief Economist Head of Economic Research & Consulting, Swiss Re 14th African Reinsurance Forum Tunis, 20 October 2008. Key resinsurance questions to be adressed.

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Overview of global trends in reinsurance (International reinsurance point of view)

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Overview of global trends in reinsurance(International reinsurance point of view)

  • Thomas HessGroup Chief EconomistHead of Economic Research & Consulting, Swiss Re

  • 14th African Reinsurance Forum

  • Tunis, 20 October 2008

Key resinsurance questions to be adressed

  • The economic situation and the banking crisis

  • Where do we stand in reinsurance?

  • Demand/ supply situation

  • Is reinsurance still safe?

  • Prospects for reinsurance

Current situation in global financial markets

  • Interbank markets dried up; large parts of financial markets face liquidity issues. There is high uncertainty about extent and duration of the crisis.

  • IMF sees half of subprime related losses (estimated at USD 1’405 bn) borne by banks, the other half absorbed by hedge funds, pension funds and insurers.

  • Additonal losses arise from the default of financials (Lehman, Washington Mutual, AIG).

  • The effects of the real economy are now becoming visible. US and Europe face recessions.

  • The economic slowdown will have further negative consequences for credit and stock markets.

  • The bank recapitalisation plans and other measures announced recently should avert a complete financial meltdown, but outlook is still grim.

Lower investment income due to weak equity markets, rising credit spreads and defaults on corporate bonds

Slower premium growth in P&C due to growth slowdown but problems with investments speed up hardening of insurance prices

Individual US life insurers investment losses required them to raise capital from financial markets

Lower demand for index-linked products (life insurers)

Rise in inflation may lead to higher claims inflation (long-tail casualty)

Higher costs of capital: both equity and credit have become more expensive

The indirect impact of the credit crisis on insurers



Fixed-income securities


Unpaid claims

Equity securities

Other liabilities

Alternative invest.

Cash and other assets


Insurance business is fundamentally different from banking

  • Insurance business is funded primarily by premiums received for providing insurance protection both premium flow and pay-outs are reasonablypredictable

  • Pay-outs are triggered by hazardous events, and not by policyholders’ will there can be no ‘run’ on an insurance company

  • Insurance hazards are typically uncorrelated the failure of one insurer does not necessarily predict failures of other companies*

  • Premiums received for providing insurance are invested in diversified classes with currency and cash flow matching Insurers invest assets mostly to maturity and therefore immunise against short-term value fluctuation

* see G30 and FSF studies

Where do we stand in reinsurance?

  • The reinsurance price cycle turned in 2004, we are now reaching the bottom

  • Higher combined ratios, and less positve run-off of prior years cause lower underwriting results

  • Selective upward trends from low price levels in aviation, motor insurance, D&O already visible

  • Losses on the investment side put additonal pressure on profitability

How are catastrophe losses developing

Large insurance losses 2008 (> USD 1bn)

Source: Swiss Re Economic Research & Consulting

 Insured losses up to 1 September 2008 increased by more than 25% relative to the same period in 2007  2008 figures confirm long-term trend towards higher nat cat claims

Demand/ supply situation is favouring higher reisurance rates

  • Demand- Insurers combined ratio increases- Insurers lose 5-20% of equity capital- Higher cost of capital

  • Supply- Reinsurers combined ratios increase- Reinsurers lose on investments- Higher cost of capital- Less alternative capacity available (securitisation, side cars, reinsurance start ups)

Insurers will retain less and reinsure more

Reinsurers will provide more capacity only at higher price

Stable ratings for reinsurers with few exceptions

Source: Swiss Re Economic Research & Consulting

Solvency ratios expected to decline as capital growth slows down

Capital and solvency of the P&C industry, 1999-2011USD index, 1999 = 100.


new scenarios

Source: Swiss Re Economic Research & Consulting

Worldwide P&C growth

The cycle may turn earlier and more forcelully!

Source: Swiss Re Economic Research & Consulting

Profitability prospect non-life insurance

2008 and 2009investment resultsand overall profitsresults will be worse!

Reinsurancelooks similar but is more cyclical

Source: Swiss Re Economic Research & Consulting

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