ABIR: Bermuda market to bear 40 percent of reinsurance losses from 2011 catastrophes
Bermuda market companies will end up shouldering at least 40 percent of the total reinsurance losses sustained as a result of the series of catastrophes that occurred in 2011.
That was the message from Brad Kading, president of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR), who urged attendees at the Risk Management Society (RIMS) All Industry Day Conference in Seattle on Friday to fight against protectionist proposals that inhibit the ability to spread risk globally.
Mr Kading said reinsurers will pay 45 percent of the mega-catastrophe losses from 2011, a record year for global natural disasters. He emphasised that Bermuda’s internationally active insurance groups represented by ABIR will pay a very large share of that at least 40 percent.
“This ability to spread risk globally is imperiled by protectionist measures, whether it’s the reinsurance tax bill introduced by US Rep. Richard Neal and Sen Robert Menendez, the Brazil regulatory restrictions on affiliated reinsurance, or the mandates to use local reinsurers in Argentina and elsewhere. If you ring-fence the capital so that risk can’t be spread you make it more difficult for consumers to get the insurance they need,” Kading said.
ABIR represents 22 international insurers and reinsurers who derive business income from more than 100 countries around the world.
Mr Kading explained that the Cascade Range area of Washington state and Oregon is exposed to mega-catastrophic earthquakes roughly every 400 to 600 years; the last major quake occurred in 1700. Insured losses from such a quake have been estimated at $65 billion to $90 billion, spread through the Pacific Northwest region with substantial losses in Washington and Oregon’s urban areas.
“If protectionist measures prevail in the US they will restrict Washington state’s ability to recover from such a catastrophic earthquake. Inevitably, such limitations on risk spreading will lead to a government insurance fund subsidised by consumers and built on debt that burdens future generations,” Mr Kading said.
“Just look to Florida to see what will happen in Washington; most home insurance will be provided by a government corporation, subsidised by taxpayers who don’t own homes on the coast and paid for with debt that will be paid off by your children.”
Kading added that Seattle is exposed to catastrophic earthquake losses in addition to volcanic and tsunami threats from nearby areas. Insurance and reinsurance markets provide a great deal of protection to residential and business customers in those areas and are fully prepared to handle these losses.
Reinsurers have an excellent, impeccable track record in paying catastrophic losses, he said, as the events of 2011 demonstrate.
“Reinsurers handled catastrophic earthquake losses in New Zealand and Japan, flooding losses in Australia and Thailand, and hurricane and windstorm losses in the United States and Australia. The larger the losses, the bigger the share that is absorbed by international reinsurance markets,” Mr Kading concluded.
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