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Best reports improvements in reinsurance underwriting in 2021

Despite elevated catastrophe activity, AM Best’s composite of US and Bermudian reinsurers posted an improved underwriting margin in 2021, with a minimal number of COVID-19-related claims and larger contribution from investment results.

The new Best’s Market Segment Report, US-Bermudian Reinsurers Benefit as Market Conditions Improve, is part of AM Best’s look at the global reinsurance industry ahead of the Rendez-Vous de Septembre in Monte Carlo.

According to this report, the population of US-Bermudian reinsurers posted a combined ratio of 95.8 per cent in 2021, representing a six percentage-point improvement over the prior year.

Reserve releases trimmed 6.1 points from the combined ratio, compared with 3.3 points in 2020.

Favourable reserve development is expected to continue, as the report notes that COVID-19 claims development has been less than expected.

In addition, a significant amount of these COVID-19 claims reserves are still incurred but not reported.

If frequency and severity trends for recent accident years continue, favourable reserve development would benefit, although inflation fears may put a wedge in various assumptions.

Gregory Dickerson, associate director, AM Best, said: “Optimism regarding reserve redundancy for recent accident years should be tempered by recognising that the current spike in inflation could continue for a prolonged period, which could undermine projections for severity trends in long- or short-tailed business lines.”

Capacity remains ample in many business lines, although underwriters remain particularly cautious about Florida exposure, due to concerns about long-term structural issues in the tort system that appear unlikely to be resolved in the near to medium term.

However, according to the report, the pricing environment for property catastrophe risks is improving.

Net premiums written grew by a robust 20 per cent in 2021, benefiting from the significant rate improvements.

AM Best projects that premiums for the composite will further increase in 2022, as demand has proved resilient, and rates in most key business lines continue to rise, albeit at a slower pace.

Additionally, given the ongoing improvement in reinsurance pricing, terms and conditions, as well as the quiet Atlantic/Gulf Coast hurricane season thus far in 2022, the composite should be able to improve upon its combined ratio assuming that catastrophe losses in the second half of 2022 are not excessive.

At the same time, US and Bermudian reinsurers are focused on growing their specialty and casualty portfolios, particularly in the excess and surplus markets, where pricing is viewed as well in excess of loss cost trends.

AM Best will host its annual reinsurance market briefing at Rendez-Vous de Septembre on 11 September at the Hermitage Hotel in Monte Carlo.

AM Best has affirmed the ratings of a number of companies within the Hamilton Insurance Group

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Published August 25, 2022 at 7:32 am (Updated August 25, 2022 at 7:55 am)

Best reports improvements in reinsurance underwriting in 2021

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