Bermuda's insurance sector eschewed its early 2002 malaise, and kept up the frantic activity inspired by the September 11 loss. Late 2001 saw the quick formation of several companies, generally with high levels of capitalisation and strong, well-respected management teams. The following year saw these new players strengthen their positions internationally through acquisitions, as well as setting up new operations.

Acquisitions were high on the list of several of the class of 2001, as they aimed to increase their market positions. On the property catastrophe side, Endurance picked up LaSalle Re's business in May 2002 from the troubled Trenwick, which subsequently stopped writing specialty US program business. Towards the end of 2002, Trenwick set up an underwriting facility through Chubb Re, but was forced to close it down soon after because of its weak trading position. The Trenwick accounts for 2002 carry a strong health warning from its auditors.

Further augmenting its reinsurance business, Endurance picked up HartRe's property casualty reinsurance business in 2003, picking up the renewal rights on selected contracts and the quota share reinsurance of unearned premium reserves associated with those contracts from the beginning of April. It did not, however, take on HartRe's past loss reserve liabilities.

Endurance spread internationally through the formation of a UK subsidiary, FSA-authorised Endurance Worldwide Insurance Ltd, in December 2002, followed quickly by a US subsidiary, Endurance Reinsurance Corp of America.

One of the notable withdrawals of 2002 - the closure of Overseas Partners Ltd - led to Renaissance Re increasing its catastrophe book as it assumed the OPCat reinsurance business it had previously written for OPL. The addition of DaVinci Re post-9/11 and the ramping up of Glencoe both boosted Ren Re's operations over the course of 2002.

AXIS spent 2002 following the acquisition trail, picking up Commercial Underwriters Insurance Co and Newmarket Underwriters Insurance Co in July 2002, and setting up its European office in Dublin, Ireland the following October. It also spread its net further through the acquisition of New York-domiciled reinsurer Royal & SunAlliance Personal Insurance Co, as well as picking up the D&O business of Kemper's Financial Insurance Solutions Group.

To download a PDF of this article as it appears in the magazine click here pg30