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Island’s Japanese-owned reinsurers have no direct exposure to quake

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Wintry nightmare: Earthquake and tsunami survivors read newspapers in devastated Otsuchi, northern Japan yesterday

Two Bermuda-based insurers with Japanese parent companies have no direct exposure to the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Japan last week.Tokio Millennium Re Ltd and Ms Frontier Reinsurance Ltd do not write business in Japan due to their diversified group models.But Tokio’s holding company Tokio Marine Holdings Inc, MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc, which owns MS Frontier Re, and NKSJ Holdings Inc, the three biggest Japanese non-life insurers face commercial losses of 20 billion yen to 80 billion yen ($250 million to $1 billion), according to Keefe Bruyette & Woods Inc.Fitch Ratings said that the trio had set aside about 88 percent of their 593.2 billion yen maximum liability.MS&AD rose 3.2 percent, Tokio Marine advanced 2.9 percent and NKSJ climbed 4.4 percent at the close of trading in Tokyo yesterday, with all of their shares gaining for the first time in five days.The Japanese government reinsures most of the residential and office space meaning that any other coverage is limited.Tokio Millennium Re president and CEO Tatsuhiko Hoshina told The Royal Gazette that every day he turned on the television the scenes from back home seemed to be worse than the day before.He said that all of his employees’ families and relatives in Japan had been accounted for but added that his parents had got caught up in the ensuing travel chaos with his mother having to sleep in a hotel lobby after becoming stranded.Mr Hoshina said he thought the media had overreacted to the nuclear threat and because an outbreak of this kind had never occurred before was unsure what effect it would have, adding that it appeared to be life as usual in Tokyo for the time being.MS Frontier Re president and CEO Masataka Kitagawa said that parent company MS&AD had not yet issued any information on its exposure and loss estimates for the disaster in Japan.“It is still very early to make such estimates and any loss assessment is badly affected by difficulty in gaining access to the worst affected areas,” he told The Royal Gazette.“The first priority at this stage is to support the emergency services as they try to access those areas most affected by this tragedy and not to hamper them in any way.”Mr Kitagawa said that MS Frontier Re’s focus was on non-Japanese cat exposure and was not expecting a major loss from the earthquake, adding it was too early to make any meaningful estimates and the company would evaluate the situation as it develops.He said that immediate families and friends of his fellow Japanese employees at MS Frontier Re had been reported to be safe and well.“The response from the wider business community regarding this tragedy and its impact on the people of Japan has been very kind and deeply appreciated,” he said.

MS Frontier chief executive officer Masataka Kitagawa and chief financial officer CFO Gary Devery in the company's boardroom
Tokio Millennium Re CEO Tatsuhiko Hoshina