Reinsurers are rushing to implement major changes to their strategies and altering business models as rates continue to decline, broker Willis Re said.
Reinsurance catastrophe prices for property in the U.S. were down 10-15 percent in April as companies sought to renew their insurance policies, the Willis report showed Wednesday. “Abundant” excess capital has continued to drive competition and push prices lower.
“There is urgency among reinsurers who are looking at new business models,” James Vickers, chairman of Willis Re International, said in a phone interview. “Insurance is a cyclical business where people assume that rates will hit a bottom and will go up again. This particular cycle is different.”
Willis Re said the April renewal season continued to favor buyers of insurance and reinforced current market trends, including a flurry of mergers and acquisitions in the last 12 months as companies sought to increase in scale and diversify into speciality insurance.
Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd. agreed to buy Montpelier Re Holdings Ltd. for about $1.83 billion in cash and stock on Tuesday, the latest deal in the industry. Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. announced a plan in January to combine with PartnerRe Ltd. Catlin Group Ltd. and Brit Plc also agreed to be bought by competitors.
“The last couple of years people have been talking about what needs to change and the need to do M&A,” said Vickers. “What’s happened in the last 12 months months is they’ve gone from talking about it to doing.”