RVS Live: Over-capitalized insurance industry at odds with environment of global under-insurance

11 September 2017 — Mihaela CIRCU
The United States is one of the most insured countries in the world and yet, in 2016, almost 50% of the economic losses sustained from natural disasters remained unprotected, Aon's Reinsurance Market Outlook report launched in Monte Carlo shows.

The report which assesses the key drivers of reinsurance supply and demand in the approach to the January 1 renewals finds that a significant proportion of the unprecedented flood losses generated by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana will be uninsured, again highlighting the existence of a global protection gap. As a result, those affected will require substantial financial support from the United States government.

Besides the US situation, much of the rest of the world remains chronically under-insured, at a time when the frequency of severe weather events is increasing, shows the report.

Meanwhile, the first half of 2017 saw a renewed surge of capital into the reinsurance sector, raising the total capital available to a record level of USD 605 billion at June 30, 2017, according to Aon Benfield figures.

Eric ANDERSEN, Chief Executive Officer of Aon Benfield, said: "Hurricane Harvey has had devastating consequences and unfortunately many of the losses are uninsured, leaving the United States government, and therefore taxpayers, to pick up most of the bill. At the same time, we have an 'over-capitalized' reinsurance industry and new investors actively seeking access to diversified insurance risk. The frequency of severe weather-related losses is increasing and there needs to be a significant step-up in the efforts made to address the protection gap evident globally."

The Reinsurance Market Outlook report reveals that major reinsurers continued to produce solid results in the first half of 2017, driven by a relatively benign loss environment and stabilized investment returns. It also highlights the competitive impact of a surge in alternative capital at the mid-year renewals.

Based on preliminary figures, and prior to the impact of Hurricane Harvey, insured losses for the first eight months of 2017 totaled USD 24.5 billion, representing 56% of the 10-year average for the period. The reinsured component of these losses was low, given that a high proportion related to localized severe weather events in the United States.

The Reinsurance Market Outlook - September 2017 report is available here
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