It hardly seems a year since the last Rendez-Vous de Septembre. As delegates gathered in the Monagasque sun on the first day of the meeting, talk was of hardening rates, tighter conditions, and a market which had taken too much pain and just couldn't take any more. Then on Tuesday afternoon, knowledge of events that would shift the business started rippling through the cafés and hotels of Monte Carlo. Alongside the delegates' horror at the pictures beamed from across the Atlantic was the realisation that this was an event which would change the industry. In the ensuing few hours, loss estimates ranged from $5bn to global economic meltdown.
One year on, and the re/insurance sector generally has weathered the storm. In this issue, Global Reinsurance has revisited the September 11 losses. Using companies' official loss announcements and commentator estimates, we have identified about $26bn in losses to date. This list is by no means exhaustive - though we have tried to be as accurate as possible - and as the reinsurance community issues its half-year reports, these sums are more than likely to increase. Where there are slight anomalies - post-tax or pre-tax loss figures, for example - we have highlighted this, and most of the re/insurers' postings are net rather than gross. Separately, we have broken down the Lloyd's losses on an agent-by-agent basis, to give an indication of how the WTC-related claims are spread around the market.
Post-September 11, a new wave of capital entered the re/insurance sector in the wake of not just the WTC losses but also past-year problems, such as asbestos reserve strengthening. Other re/insurers exited the market as corporate strategy or capital inadequacy dictated. In this issue of Global Reinsurance, Adrian Leonard charts the CEO roller coaster, identifying who has jumped off the train and who has changed carriages. New capital has proved a draw for some of the market figures that had dropped off the radar screen in recent times, and it will be interesting to see how the new capital fares in the run-up to the next renewals season.
The glamour of capital-raising from the investment community may have overshadowed a major source of cash available to almost all re/insurers, argues Peter Wolf of REL Consultancy in his article on page 30. The new zeitgeist is `cash is king', writes Mr Wolf, but re/insurers are ignoring "a ready source of cash on their own doorstep - working capital." Accounts receivable in the form of premiums written and amounts due as claims from reinsurers and retrocessionaires can total more than 15% of gross balance sheet assets, he contends, and this cash currently is tied up in the "extended paper chain" of cedants, brokers and reinsurers. "The average number of days' premium billings outstanding in accounts receivable among the top 20 global reinsurers exceeds 150," he calculates. "This is far in excess of typical terms of business. It is estimated that an improvement of only 10% would release net ¤20bn of much-needed additional liquidity to the reinsurance sector." A sobering thought indeed, and one which the industry would do well to address.
The hardened market conditions of recent months have thrown a different light on various sectors of the industry. The role of the broker in these turbulent times is examined by Grahame Millwater. On top of the events of September 11, a tighter regulatory environment, shorter market cycles and consolidation are all taking their toll. "These recent market developments have re-emphasised the broker's role in a hard market - to identify sources of capacity to deliver the best possible price for their clients at appropriate levels of credit security," he writes. "Hence while the `new model' skills have become an essential part of the reinsurance broker's armoury, they have by no means superseded the transactional skills; long-standing business relationships retain their enormous value."
This is set against a background of unbundling of multiline offerings, and widespread withdrawals from certain classes, particularly on the liability side. Post-Enron and WorldCom, US directors' and officers' business is increasingly tough to place. "The situation for US D&O has been incredibly difficult," comments Jonathan Fahie. "There have been some horrendous losses in recent years, and an enormous increase in both severity and frequency of securities class action claims, including distortion from laddering claims." Although European D&O has not, thus far, had the same experience, the current climate for UK employers' liability has sparked confusion, with businesses suggesting they may be forced to close since they cannot afford the new premium levels being quoted.
Another area causing major problems is workers' compensation reinsurance. The events of September 11 proved that workers' comp needed real underwriting, and Beverley Porter explains in her article how modeling companies are approaching this area. Terrorism models, based on the property catastrophe models developed since the 1980s, are now being developed, and Rick Clinton explains the methodology behind EQECAT's new offering. We will be examining another of the US terrorism models in this year's Global Reinsurance TV, to be broadcast from Monday, September 8 to Wednesday, September 11, at the Rendez-Vous de Septembre. Interviews with industry heads, and a roundtable on systems and risk will also feature during the broadcast. For those unable to attend Monte Carlo, certain items will be available on the Global Reinsurance website, www.globalreinsurance.com and on video after the event.
So one year on, and the market battles on. The void left by the tragic loss of life on September 11 will never be filled, and our sympathies go out to all those in the industry personally touched by those dreadful events.