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Bermuda insurers’ profits fall by 43%

Bermuda market property and casualty re/insurers’ combined profits fell more than 40 percent during the second quarter of 2011 as companies counted the cost of the US storms of April and May and revised estimates for their first quarter losses.

As a total, re/insurance companies reported a net income of $1.6 billion for the quarter, down from $2.8 billion a year previous.

Of the 19 companies surveyed, Ace Ltd recorded the biggest profit of $607 million - $70 million less than the same period in 2010 - with XL Group ($225.6 million in 2011 versus $56 million in 2010), Everest Re ($131.3 million versusu $156.7 million) and PartnerRe ($124.9 million versus $190.9 million) the nearest competitors.

Three companies posted a loss, namely Maiden Holdings ($24.4 million), Platinum ($20.4 million) and Flagstone ($20.2 million).

Among the UK insurers based in Bermuda, Catlin Group suffered a loss of $72 million compared to $56 million the prior year, while Lancashire made a profit of $91 million versus $84.5 million in Q2 2010.

Despite turning the biggest profit, Ace was also the hardest hit by catastrophes over the second quarter to the tune of $134 million compared to $81 million last year, closely followed by Axis Capital Holdings ($126 million) and PartnerRe ($119 million).

Total estimated losses for the quarter were $1.2 billion.

Speaking in a conference call, Axis’ CEO John Charman estimated the company’s share of the catastrophe activity to be approximately $706 million for the year-to-date or about one percent of its estimated of current year industry losses.

Mr Charman said that from its model, Axis expected to experience that level of aggregate losses for the second quarter every 50 years or so, but entering the US hurricane season, the company believed it had the capital strength to handle further potential catastrophe-related losses.

Impacted in its reinsurance segment primarly by the severe weather in the US and the New Zealand aftershock, as well as increased first quarter net cat losses, he said that Axis was navigating the market in the catastrophe exposed lines of business the company writes and had made good progress in repositioning its portfolio in catastrophe-exposed areas with a view toward deploying capital at significantly higher returns throughout 2012.

“While we’re comfortable that the share of one percent of industry catastrophe losses is in line with our global footprint in specialty short-term and catastrophe markets, we are constantly learning lessons on fine-tuning our portfolios on the basis of our experience from actual loss events,” he said.

“Knowing what we now know, we believe rate change on international catastrophe-exposed business in the second quarter and that the July 1 renewals was still at a level to make us feel fully comfortable utilising our risk appetite for those zones,” Mr Charman said.

Costas Miranthis, CEO of PartnerRe, also on a conference call, said: “While clearly the catastrophe activity was above our expectations for the quarter, the remainder of our portfolio continues to perform in line or above our expectations.

“Losses reported during the quarter remained significantly below expectations, and we saw no evidence of an uptick in loss trends during the quarter. We continue to price and reserve for significant loss trends of longer tail lines but also continue to be surprised by how benign loss experience has been.”

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Published August 12, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 12, 2011 at 9:58 am)

Bermuda insurers’ profits fall by 43%

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