Wednesday, 25 January 2012
Fitch sees Bermuda market as ‘fundamentally resilient’
Fitch Ratings has said that Bermuda-domiciled reinsurers are well positioned to benefit from an improved underwriting and somewhat better pricing environment this year, following a very difficult 2011.
Fitch Ratings said in a report that it sees the Bermuda market as: “Fundamentally resilient, with a strong, albeit diminished, capital position and a proven ability to adapt in meeting capacity needs.”
Market underwriting capacity remains strong, said Fitch, even though overall capital declined slightly in 2011 for the 17 Bermuda-domiciled insurers that Fitch actively follows.
“Moreover, an uncertain earnings outlook puts additional pressure on (re)insurers to preserve existing capital, as Fitch regards maintaining focus on profitable underwriting as the key factor in preserving capital,” the rating agency said.
It added that regulatory changes are expected to introduce both opportunities and threats, as the island faces competition from other jurisdictions, tax-status scrutiny, and changing collateral rules. Reinsurance demand may be boosted by the need for insurers operating under Solvency II to hold more risk capital. However, Fitch pointed out that with Bermuda seeking Solvency II equivalence, “the country's regulatory framework will, at a minimum, become less flexible, reducing its appeal as the preferred location for start-up companies.”
The stance being taken by reinsurers in the run-up to renewals is usually a good indication of what might be in store for underlying insureds. As such the Baden-Baden reinsurance meeting, held towards the end of October, is usually considered a bellwether for European corporations thinking about how much their own big risk programmes are going to cost.