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18th January 2012

Fitch reviews Bermuda market prospects

According to a new Fitch Ratings report, Bermuda (re)insurers overall have been able to weather the recent storm of heightened catastrophe losses, and should be well-positioned to take advantage of improvements in the underwriting environment.
Near record catastrophe losses incurred in 2011 have significantly reduced Bermuda (re)insurance market earnings that were already under pressure from lower investment yields, pricing adequacy, limited growth prospects in non-property business and declining reserve redundancies. As such, an uncertain earnings outlook places greater emphasis on Bermuda (re)insurers to preserve existing capital, as Fitch regards maintaining focus on profitable underwriting as the key factor in achieving capital preservation.
Favourably, recent market pricing information indicates a shift to a slight increase and stabilization in pricing, particularly in property business driven by recent losses. While a near-term increase in pricing is beneficial, it is questionable whether recent favourable pricing activity can develop into a longer-term shift to a broad, hard market into 2012.
The shifting regulatory landscape presents both opportunities and threats for Bermuda, as the island continues to face competition from other jurisdictions and tax status scrutiny. Furthermore, while the Bermuda market sector may be ripe for consolidation, there was limited M&A activity in 2011 as stock market prices for (re)insurers remain pressured.
The full report, 'Bermuda 2012 Market Update' is available at www.fitchratings.com.