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Japanese reinsurance rates expected to rise

TOKYO (Bloomberg) Japan's biggest non-life insurers may have to pay higher reinsurance rates when they are reviewed next month after the nation's strongest earthquake.

Revisions will be affected in the aftermath of the March 11 temblor and subsequent tsunami, said Hideyuki Ishii, a spokesman at Tokio Marine Holdings Inc. Sompo Japan Insurance Inc. is still assessing the impact from the disaster, said Yuzuru Tsukui, a spokesman at the unit of NKSJ Holdings Inc. MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc. is in negotiations, said Toshitsugu Matsuura, a company spokesman.

“Given the current situation, it is a concern that it will have an impact on our renewal discussions going forward,” said Tokio Marine's Ishii.

The outcome of negotiations on the reinsurance rates for Japanese insurers, which typically are done once a year in April, the start of the business year, may push up prices for catastrophe cover that have fallen for two years. Japanese insurers generally pass on 70 percent to 80 percent of their catastrophe cover to overseas reinsurers, said Teruki Morinaga, a director at Fitch Ratings Japan Ltd.

“Japan's latest earthquake may become a catalyst to change the recent trend in reinsurance rates around the world,” Tokyo- based Morinaga said. “This could be the beginning of a hardening in the global reinsurance rates,” said Morinaga. In reinsurance terms, a hardening of markets or rates refers to an increase in prices for coverage.

Reinsurance rates fell for a second straight year in January on high levels of capital available in the industry, according to Guy Carpenter & Co, the reinsurance brokerage of New York-based Marsh & McLennan Cos.

Japanese insurers and global reinsurance companies that backstop their policies may face claims of as much as 2.8 trillion yen ($35 billion) tied to the disaster, AIR Worldwide said.

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Published March 25, 2011 at 9:54 am (Updated March 25, 2011 at 9:54 am)

Japanese reinsurance rates expected to rise

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