Swiss Re Expects Recent Disasters to Drive Rate Gains

Swiss Re predicts renewal price gains last month will be followed by further increases due to large-scale natural catastrophes in the second half of last year.

Source: | Published on February 25, 2019

“While the January renewals were dominated by non-loss-affected regions, we improved the price quality by 1%,” CFO John Dacey said in an earnings briefing last week.

“We expect further price improvements during the remainder of the year as more loss-affected Japanese and US property businesses will be renewed.”

Mr Dacey says Swiss Re grew its natural catastrophe book “substantially” in the January renewals, driven by attractive opportunities in the US.

Premium growth in casualty was driven by large US SME transactions, with a relatively short duration and low expected volatility.

Swiss Re says full-year net profit grew 27% to $US421 million ($588 million) despite a high level of natural catastrophes and man-made losses.

Property and casualty reinsurance earnings of $US370 million ($516 million) were affected by estimated large claims of $US2.3 billion ($3.2 billion).

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions reported a net loss of $US405 million ($565 million), with the division affected by an estimated large claims burden of $US700 million ($977 million).

The Swiss Re Institute estimates last year was the fourth-costliest year for the insurance industry after a relatively benign first half.

The final six months included typhoons Jebi and Trami in Japan, hurricanes Florence and Michael, US wildfires, a windstorm in Canada, the Australia hailstorm and several man-made disasters.

Swiss Re continues to take action on climate change and last year announced it will not cover businesses with more than 30% exposure to thermal coal across all lines of business.

“At the current rate of action, climate change will likely lead to more natural disasters, with implications for every aspect of society and everyone – not to mention the consequences that could spill over to future generations,” CEO Christian Mumenthaler said.

“It will take a ‘whole of society’ approach to limit global warming before time runs out. I’m optimistic that this will be possible, building on the current momentum.”