S&P Sees Limited Impact on Insurers from Irene

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said it expects a somewhat limited impact from Hurricane Irene on U.S. property/casualty insurers and global reinsurers, based on preliminary insured loss estimates.

“We do not believe that the magnitude of this event is such that it will significantly influence the industry’s creditworthiness, and expect few, if any, rating changes as a result,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Taoufik Gharib.

S&P also said it does not anticipate taking any rating actions on any of the natural catastrophe bonds that it rates.

Early reports indicate that estimated insured losses from Irene will likely be less than $5 billion.

Gharib said S&P believes that Irene will affect primary insurance companies more than reinsurers because primary insurers generally retain greater property catastrophe risk at these loss levels.

S&P said it believes that the reinsurance and insurance industries, in aggregate, are well capitalized to absorb this loss even though Irene is just the latest catastrophe in a year of an unusually high frequency and severity of natural disasters, including earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, floods and cyclones in Australia, and winter storms and tornadoes in the U.S.