Mid-year reinsurance renewals have continued with the same downward pricing trends seen at the 1 January and 1 April renewals, despite first-quarter deterioration in many reinsurers' results, according to the latest 1st View renewals report from Willis Re, the reinsurance division of Willis Towers Watson, the global advisory, broking and solutions company.
For the most part, excess capacity chasing modest demand has allowed buyers to achieve both further reinsurance cost savings, albeit at a reduced level to last year, and enhanced coverage. The continued softening has been driven by the realisation that for the global reinsurance industry, the June and July renewal seasons are the last realistic chance for underwriters to meet their 2017 premium targets.
This was seen in the Florida renewals where, in the face of flat demand, a larger than anticipated influx of capacity, particularly from Insurance Linked Securities (ILS) markets, led to a further drop in pricing from the 2016 renewals, and at a greater pace than the reductions seen on US property catastrophe earlier this year.
For international markets, rate reductions across most lines followed the ameliorating trend seen in January and April renewals with a strong demand from ILS investors where ILS markets’ pricing is now matching or, in a few selected cases, more competitive than traditional reinsurers.
Underlying loss and expense ratios for many reinsurers are showing a worrying trend, with combined ratios for many classes now looking unattractive, according to the report.
The report also highlights that as a result of stubbornly soft pricing, cost control measures are being applied widely and more aggressively across the entire reinsurance chain. Market initiatives to contain and reduce costs, such as the London market Placing Platform Limited initiative, are seeing increased impetus and support as the importance of the promise of greater efficiency is recognised.
Looking at 3Q and 4Q activity
Mr John Cavanagh, Global CEO of Willis Re, said: “Yet again, we’re in a position where the weakening in the global reinsurance industry’s performance has not reached an unacceptable level. Reinsurers across the board do not yet feel compelled to take a stronger stance over conceding further modest rate reductions and walking away from clients. Much now will depend on loss activity in the traditionally more active third and fourth quarters and on any instability in investment returns.”