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The State of the Wholesale Market

The wholesale property-casualty insurance market is neither a business entity nor an organization. The term "wholesale market" refers to how some types of insurance, especially those with higher risks, are sold, managed, and marketed. General Agents (MGAs), E&S brokers, and program administrators serve similar roles in providing insurance coverage to lines of business that traditional carriers avoid. Typically, the risks are specialized and have higher potential losses. The Growth of the Excess and Surplus Lines (E&S) Market The excess and surplus lines (E&S) market is one of those fast-growing insurance markets. The E&S market value in 2020 was $74 billion; projections are for $179 billion by 2030, and the estimates are due to a projected average rate of 9% per annum over the next five years. Total U.S. surplus lines and direct premiums rose to $82.65 billion in 2021. This increase was the largest since 2003. Best's data also showed surplus lines premiums growing to their current level. Businesses moving from the admitted (or insured) market to the E&S market because of the challenging market conditions of the last two to three years is one of the most important reasons for the growth. The reasons for change include high-interest rates, rising costs, regulatory uncertainty, and a lack of transparency. In addition, there is a shift away from traditional property coverages toward more complex risks such as cyber, data breach, fraud, and general liability. Because of these evolving circumstances, insurance companies are trying to come up with new products and services to meet the needs of consumers and businesses. This development has led to several trends in the E&S market. First, due to the rise of technology, more insurance companies are using digital platforms to help them manage risk and give better customer service. For example, online portals allow customers to compare quotes and purchase policies without speaking to a human being. In the same way, mobile apps let policyholders check their coverage levels, pay their premiums, and get information about claims at any time, day or night. Second, insurance companies now offer "green" policies to protect against climate change and natural disasters because people are becoming more interested in sustainability. They also attract younger clients because of their perceived appeal to environmentally conscious individuals. Third, the number of regulations, rules, and guidelines impacting the insurance industry means many insurers need help to keep pace. Some insurance companies are making custom software apps that automate processes and make compliance easier. Others are working with third parties to provide solutions across multiple business lines. Fourth, the rise of innovative technology enables insurers to make smarter decisions about how they price and sell policies. For example, AI algorithms can predict potential losses and adjust the pricing accordingly. Machine learning also lets insurers build predictive models based on past data to determine how likely certain events will happen again. A Conning study found that premiums collected by banks, a key distribution channel for U.S. property and casualty insurers, went up significantly in 2021. The growth rate was faster than the P&C market. Conning thinks that direct premiums written by MGAs in 2021 will be more than $70 billion. This statistic includes business written for Lloyd's syndicates and non-U.S. insurance companies. Growth drivers included a strong rebound in the U.S. economy after lockdowns caused by pandemics and a continued rise in premium rates across the board. Rate increases were robust for some of the more difficult lines of business, like cyber, which the excess and surplus lines (E&S) market generally covers, which means MGAs are very active in it. How MGAs Benefit Fronting insurers have assumed a more prominent role in helping MGAs get money from the global reinsurance markets. William Pitt, a director of insurance research at Conning, said, "Fronting companies play a key role in securing capacity for MGAs today, and we expect this to continue to grow." Many fronting companies retain some risks to align interests with their reinsurers. Some larger MGAs have also become risk-bearing entities by creating reinsurance captives. Since the beginning, the Lloyd's market has been the most significant source of capacity for MGAs in the U.S., which was still true in 2021. In its most recent study, Conning measures for the first time how strong Lloyd's syndicates are to the market. Lauryn Kothavale, an Assistant Vice President in Insurance Research at Conning, said, "The economic rebound that followed the Covid-19 pandemic helped MGAs and program administrators, especially those that had been hit the hardest by the pandemic." In the past, insurance companies looked to MGAs to get more premiums in slow markets. But their ability to price risks has grown, and in today's demanding market, it is just as crucial for them to find attractive niche businesses for insurers. Wholesale commercial insurance markets are seeing increased business as policyholders, brokers, and prospective buyers seek alternatives to continuing firm primary market rate conditions and capacity constraints. Cyber attacks, the weather, pandemics, and even inflation are unpredictable factors that make people feel more at risk. These concerns increase the demand for more specialized coverage, which is good news for the overall managing general agent (MGA) segment. AM Best found that the total premium written in the United States through the MGA market reached $60 billion in 2021, up from $51 billion in 2020. This situation happened after the economy grew in 2021 when lockdowns were lifted and monetary policies were relaxed, which led to a 5.7% growth in the gross domestic product. As soon as businesses reopened, business got back to normal, and the insurance industry saw a 9.5% rise in premiums due to a hardening of market conditions and pricing. Reactions and Shifts In conclusion, the current environment is an opportunity for investors and companies. The wholesale and energy markets are two of the fastest-growing parts of the insurance business. Both have grown by more than 10% in the last five years. The reasons for this growth include the following: 1) A shift from traditional to alternative risk transfer vehicles (e.g., reinsurance). 2) Increased demand for higher margin products such as catastrophe bonds and other forms The wholesale insurance and E&S markets are growing because more customers, competition, and new technologies make business easier. But the industry is also changing because insurance companies are trying to cut costs and become more efficient. These changes have created opportunities for brokers and agents who can provide innovative solutions that help their clients succeed.    
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Swiss Re: Disasters Caused a Total of $122B in Insured Losses in 2022

According to Swiss Re, Hurricane Ian and other natural disasters have caused an estimated $115 billion in insured losses so far this year, far exceeding the 10-year average of $81 billion. Natural and man-made disasters caused $268 billion in economic damage, of which $122 billion was covered by insurance, making 2022 one of the most expensive years in the sector's history, according to the report. Ian, a category-4 hurricane that hit Florida in September, was the year's single largest loss-causing event, with an estimated insured loss of $50-65 billion. That would place it only second to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. According to Swiss Re, 2022 will be the second consecutive year in which estimated insured losses exceed $100 billion, following a 5-7% average annual increase over the previous decade. Secondary perils such as floods and hailstorms resulted in more than $50 billion in insured losses, according to the report. Flooding in Australia caused by torrential rains in February and March caused an estimated $4 billion in damage, making it the country's most expensive natural disaster. France experienced the most severe hailstorms ever recorded, with insured losses estimated at 5 billion euros ($5.2 billion). Swiss Re estimates that over 11,000 people have died in natural and man-made disasters this year, excluding the death toll from Europe's severe heat waves. In January, Munich Re will publish its annual catastrophe report.
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U.S. to Investigate Cyberattacks Linked to Lapsus$

The Biden administration announced on Friday that it would investigate recent hacks linked to Lapsus$, an extortion-focused hacking collective that has victimized some of the world's largest technology companies and broken into critical infrastructure systems over the last year. The U.S. Cyber Safety Review Board, a panel of experts from various government agencies and the private sector, will investigate the group's recent high-profile hacks, which researchers say have included extortion demands at times but also appear to be motivated by a desire for notoriety at other times. According to the companies, high-profile victims include Uber Technologies Inc., chip maker Nvidia Corp., Microsoft Corp., online access-management vendor Okta Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., and others. "Lapus$ has targeted some of the world's most sophisticated companies," said Robert Silvers, chair of the board and undersecretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the board's activities. "We will advise on how to repel and respond to these types of cyber-enabled extortion attacks as a collaborative effort between government and industry." Lapsus$ is an amorphous team that hides behind anonymous online aliases, but members of the group have left enough digital breadcrumbs for law enforcement and private researchers to identify some of them. According to security researchers and law enforcement officials, the group likely includes members from Brazil and the United Kingdom, with several of them being teenagers. Although some members have been apprehended, security experts believe the group continues to pose a threat. Lapsus$ has developed a set of techniques that, while not technically sophisticated, have proven to be devastatingly effective at breaking into the networks of global tech firms that spend millions on cybersecurity each year. To breach a variety of networks, the group has frequently relied on circumventing widely used security tools used across industries, exposing major, overlooked security gaps in interwoven software ecosystems. Some of its high-profile hacks have proven to be more of a nuisance than a crippling breach. In the case of Uber, the company stated that Lapsus$ gained access to its internal systems and sent messages to employees, including a graphic image. However, the intrusions have been disturbing at times. According to statements released in March by Samsung, Nvidia, and Microsoft, the group stole source code or proprietary information from them. The board, which has no regulatory authority and no authority to levy fines, was established earlier this year by the Biden administration to review significant national cybersecurity events affecting government, business, and critical infrastructure. The cyber board, which is loosely modeled after the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates plane crashes and train derailments, publishes reports on its findings and makes security recommendations. It issued its first report on the Log4J bug in July, concluding that a major flaw in the widely used logging software was a "endemic vulnerability" that could persist as an avenue for hackers to infiltrate computer networks for more than a decade. Mr. Silvers stated in a media briefing that the board wanted to complete its review of the Lapsus$ criminal group as soon as possible, but he did not provide a timetable for when the report would be completed. "Lapsus$ actors have targeted multiple critical infrastructure sectors, including healthcare, government facilities, and critical manufacturing," said Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. "Because of the variety of victims and tactics used, we need to understand how Lapsus$ actors carried out their malicious cyber activities so that we can mitigate risk to potential future victims."
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NASA Predicts Rising Sea Levels Could Swamp the U.S. Coastline by 2050

According to a NASA study, sea levels are likely rising faster than previously thought, which means that low-lying coastal cities in the United States may flood far more frequently in the coming decades. The study, which analyzed three decades of satellite data, shows that sea levels along the contiguous United States' coastlines could rise as much as 12 inches (30 centimeters) above current waterlines by 2050, the research team said in a statement (opens in new tab). According to the study, published Oct. 6 in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, the Gulf Coast and Southeast are expected to be the most severely impacted, with increased storm and tidal flooding in the near future (opens in new tab). The findings back up the "higher-range" scenarios outlined in the multi-agency Sea Level Rise Technical Report released in February (opens in new tab). According to the report, "significant sea level rise" is expected to hit US coasts within the next 30 years, with 10 to 14 inches (25 to 35 cm) of rise on average for the East Coast, 14 to 18 inches (35 to 45 cm) for the Gulf Coast, and 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) for the West Coast." The NASA study expanded on methods used in the previous multi-agency report, and was led by a team of researchers and scientists based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, which is dedicated to both exploring the deepest recesses of space and using satellites to "advance understanding" of Earth. NASA's study used satellite altimeter measurements of sea surface height and correlated them with tide gauge records from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) dating back over 100 years. As a result, NASA can confidently state that its satellite readings are not anomalous and are fully supported by ground-based findings. While the findings of the new study are undoubtedly concerning, Jonathan Overpeck, an interdisciplinary climate scientist at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the research, suggested that the projections did not come out of nowhere. "NASA's findings appear solid and unsurprising." "We know that sea level rise is accelerating, and we know why," he wrote in an email to Live Science. "More and more polar ice is melting, on top of the oceans warming and expanding." Clearly, sea level rise will worsen as long as we ignore climate change." David Holland, a physical climate scientist and professor of mathematics at New York University who was not involved in the study, agrees. "The quality of the satellite data is excellent, so the findings are reliable," Holland wrote in an email to Live Science. "The study demonstrates that the global ocean is rising, and that the rise is accelerating." The projected rise for the Gulf coast of about 1 foot by 2050 is enormous, and it has the potential to make hurricane-related storm surges even worse than they are now." Other factors may also play a role in rising sea levels along the United States' coastline. According to the study, by the mid-2030s, the issues associated with rising sea levels could be "amplified by natural variations on Earth," such as the effects of El Nio and La Nia, with every U.S. coast set to experience "more intense high-tide floods due to a wobble in the moon's orbit that occurs every 18.6 years." El Nio — a warming of surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near South America that can lead to increased rainfall — and La Nia — a cooling of surface ocean waters in the Pacific — can make accurately forecasting sea level rise difficult, and can potentially skew readings. Ben Hamlington, the NASA Sea Level Change Team's leader, noted that natural events and phenomena must always be taken into account, and that all forecasts will inevitably be refined as satellites collect data over time. Despite the study's bleak findings, some experts are optimistic that high-profile, impactful research like this will compel decision-makers to focus on addressing the ongoing climate crisis and encourage the public to demand effective measures be implemented. "It is impossible to dismiss. "I believe that this [increased flooding] is catalyzing action because many coastal communities are discussing these issues and how they will respond," said Robert Nicholls, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the study. "We have the means to address this challenge in terms of mitigation to stabilize global temperatures and slow — but not completely stop — sea level rise, which will unfortunately continue for centuries due to the warming we have already experienced." Finally, as climate change alters our planet's oceans and seas, humanity will need to adapt. "This could involve retreat in some places, raising land in others, and defenses in others," Nicholls explained to Live Science. "There is no single solution that will work everywhere." If we continue on this path, the future will be manageable. Likewise, if governments and society ignore these issues, the future will be a complete disaster."
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