Willis Re Sees Increased Capital Inflows as Threat to Reinsurers

April 2, 2013

A report from Willis Re, the reinsurance brokerage arm of Willis Group Holdings, concludes that “many traditional reinsurers now see the flow of capital coming into the reinsurance market as a direct threat to their existing portfolios.”

The Willis Re 1st View April Renewals Report entitled “Capital Overflow,” notes there is currently around $35 billion of capital that has entered the reinsurance market from a variety of sources, and the volume continues to increase.

In the report’s opening letter Willis Re Chairman Peter Hearn, Chairman wrote: “While some reinsurers are considering how to respond, others are moving ahead with the development of third party capital management propositions to offer their own skills and platforms as fund managers.”

The report also notes that this influx of new capital could “have a significant impact on the post-event response from the global reinsurance market. Historically, following a major loss, new reinsurance companies have been formed through the creation of permanent capital structures, whereas today new capital flows into the market, in a more fungible manner.”

The report further indicates that “overall global reinsurance premium volume is being squeezed by a combination of M&A activity and higher retentions by larger insurers.”

Other areas of concern for reinsurers include the following:
— Sluggish growth in mature markets is not yet being offset by growth in emerging markets
— Changes in primary market distribution models are effectively concentrating premium into the hands of fewer larger reinsurers
— Access to risk to drive growth aspirations

Hearn commented: “Against this background, the outlook for many traditional reinsurers is challenging, with profit margins coming under pressure during 2013.”

Other points noted in the report include the following:
— Overall pricing is flat to slightly down on loss-free lines of business
— Major Japanese reinsurance buyers have recognized the support they obtained from their reinsurers over the difficult renewals of 2011 and 2012. As a result, they have been rewarded with significant levels of additional capacity. Pricing was either risk-adjusted flat or down across all lines
— Early indications of the June 1st 2013 Florida market renewals indicates more aggressive pricing

Source: Willis Re

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