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Tiny Bermuda commands 14% share of global reinsurance market

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More than a third of the world's top 50 reinsurers are based in Bermuda or have a major operation here.

PartnerRe is listed as the tenth largest reinsurer globally in terms of gross premiums written.

AM Best's latest list of the Top 50 Reinsurers 2012, released to The Royal Gazette yesterday, showed that Bermuda commanded a substantial 14 percent share of non-life (property and casualty) gross premiums written globally.

Switzerland and the Asia-Pacific also each had 14 percent shares. Germany wrote the most with a 24 percent share, while the Americas region had a 12 percent share.

The AM Best report further showed that one Bermuda-based re/insurer jumped five spots in the rankings. Arch Capital Group, based at Wessex House on Reid Street, reached the No. 30 spot in 2012 as it increased premiums by 28 percent.

This was mainly on growth across all reinsurance lines of business, but particularly due to the full year of premiums from “other” lines, which included mortgage reinsurance and significant growth in property, excluding cat and casualty reinsurance.

“These opportunities are somewhat unique, but being selective and opportunistic is in Arch's DNA,” AM Best said.

The highest ranked Bermuda re/insurer was PartnerRe at No. 10, followed by Everest Re at No. 11, XL Group (Dublin-based) at No. 16., and Catlin Group at No. 23 and Axis Capital at No. 24.

ACE (Zurich-based) ranked no. 36.

The report also showed that despite a number of major loss events in 2012 (including Superstorm Sandy, US tornadoes, wildfires and severe droughts), most reinsurers, including the Bermuda companies, delivered underwriting profits and solid earnings.

“Combined ratios (a measure of profitability) for most were below 100, driven in part by continued reserve releases and well-diversified books of business,” AM Best said.

“Capacity for the industry remains strong, as outside investors continued to pour money into catastrophe bonds, sidecars and other structured products.

“In 2012, close to $8 billion in capital went into sidecars and cat bonds alone, compared with about $6 billion in 2011. Such investments in 2013 are on track to beat 2012 figures.”

Lloyd's secured fourth place, moving up from fifth in 2011, as premiums grew 16 percent, an increase attributed to growth in treaty reinsurance and facultative property.

“At the same time, Berkshire Hathaway slipped to fifth place, in part due to the end of its 20 percent quota-share agreement with Swiss Re,” the agency said.

“The full impact of that change was tempered by new opportunities Berkshire found in Asia after the cat losses in 2011.”

Tokio Marine moved up four spots in 2012 to reach No. 22.

“The company continued to focus on growing international business, particularly in commercial speciality and in standard reinsurance lines in the United States.

Also worth noting in the ranking are companies that lowered premiums slightly in 2012, likely through continued underwriting discipline under current market conditions,” AM Best said.

However, American Agricultural Insurance Co., and Bermuda's Axis Capital, Maiden Holdings, Validus and Platinum Underwriters all dropped several spots in the ranking as they employed cycle management and elected to slightly reduce premiums compared with 2011.

Companies that exited the ranking included Flagstone, which was acquired by Validus, and Ariel, which was sold in pieces to several companies.

AM Best noted that it appears that Bermuda's Enstar — a significant run-off specialist — will enter reinsurance through its recently announced acquisitions of Arden Re (formerly Ariel) and Torus.

“It will be interesting to see how much scale Enstar can gain,” AM Best said.

Newcomers to the top 50 include Milli Re from Turkey and Wilton Re.

“Given the abundant capacity in the industry heading into 2013, rates continue to be under some pressure, particularly for areas that have experienced no losses over the past few years,” AM Best said.

“Overall returns are increasingly dependent on underwriting as interestrates remain at historical lows and pricing continues to show signs of softness.

“The January 1 renewal season saw pricing flat to increasing in the low single digits. April pricing was up slightly, particularly for loss-impacted contracts. However, June 1 renewals saw prices decline as much as 20 percent for some programs.”

These are the rankings of the re/insurers actually based or incorporated in Bermuda:

PartnerRe (10); Everest Re (11); Catlin (23); Axis Capital (24); RenaissanceRe (28); Arch Capital (30); Aspen (32); White Mountains (33); Validus (34); Endurance (35); Alterra (38); Maiden (40); Allied World (42); Montpelier Re (43); Platinum Underwriters (47); Wilton Re (48).

No. 10: Bermuda-based PartnerRe is the tenth largest reinsurer globally in terms of gross premiums written.
Partner Re Wellesley House South (Photo by Mark Tatem)
Bermuda a global player

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Published August 23, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated August 22, 2013 at 6:49 pm)

Tiny Bermuda commands 14% share of global reinsurance market

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