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Bermuda ready to ease financial fears in an uncertain world

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Albert Benchimol of Axis, right, speaking at the Bermuda Risk Summit. Also pictured are Megan Thomas of Hamilton Re and Stephen Catlin of Convex (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Bermuda’s re/insurance industry rises to the occasion during uncertain times, attendees at a sold out Bermuda Risk Summit 2022 heard.

Yesterday’s opening panel discussion of the inaugural Summit, the first major in-person risk event held in Bermuda since 2019, featured the chief executive officers of five major island-based re/insurers.

Albert Benchimol, president and CEO of Axis, said: “As we think about what’s happening in the world right now, I think we have to agree that the world and by definition insurance and reinsurance is in transition.”

He said the increased frequency of weather-related catastrophe events, Covid-19, social inflation and now financial inflation have made the last five years “really challenging”.

He added: “Now we are dealing with the uncertainty of the war in Ukraine with the Russian invasion. We have seen cyber attacks.”

Mr Benchimol said people he has spoken to are anxious because of the uncertainty – and it is the re/insurance industry that provides “some level of comfort, some level of confidence, in the face of uncertainty”.

He added: “It’s at times like this that Bermuda shines – and it’s not the first time.”

John Huff, CEO of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, said Bermuda re/insurers have paid nearly half a trillion dollars to policyholders and cedant companies in the United States, European Union and United Kingdom over the last 20 years.

CEO views: Chris Schaper of AIG Re, Marc Grandisson of Arch Capital Group, Megan Thomas of Hamilton Re, Stephen Catlin of Convex and Albert Benchimol of Axis (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Mr Benchimol went further, citing a series of examples going back almost 40 years when island-based re/insurers have stepped up, including after the attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001 that resulted in many start-ups in Bermuda and vast amounts of capital.

He said: “We provided coverages that nobody wanted to touch – terrorism, aviation, property and property cat, and then again in 2006 and 2020 – more start-ups, more capital raised.

“And so I know that we are just going to continue to do that here again – and we look forward to the conversations that we are going to be having in terms of ‘how do we address these problems’?”

He added: “I am actually optimistic because it’s at times like this that Bermuda shows that we may be 62,000 people, we may be 20 square miles, but we are a third of the world’s re/insurance industry and this is good.”

Marc Grandisson, CEO of Arch Capital Group and chairman of Abir, said earlier: “As we face the market challenges that we all collectively face, I think that Bermuda is thriving. We are in a really good position, a really good place.”

He added: “This is our time to really step up to the plate and provide more coverage – at the right price, as you would expect – but certainly it’s our time to come up and shine and do more for the world.”

Mr Benchimol and Mr Grandisson were speaking on the panel “The Bermuda Angle: Global CEO Market View and Strategic Lens” at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club.

They were joined by Stephen Catlin, chairman and CEO, Convex; Chris Schaper, CEO, AIG Re; and Megan Thomas, CEO, Hamilton Re.

Mr Huff was the moderator.

The discussion kicked off three days of panels, keynote presentations, networking, and dealmaking in advance of the June 1 renewal season.

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Published March 15, 2022 at 7:57 am (Updated March 17, 2022 at 3:32 pm)

Bermuda ready to ease financial fears in an uncertain world

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