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LIRMA EXAMINES DERIVATIVE USE

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DUBLIN, Ireland-The London International Insurance & Reinsurance Market Assn. expects to report later this year on ways its members can use financial derivatives to hedge risks, according to LIRMA Chief Executive Marie-Louise Rossi.

Speaking earlier this month right before the opening of LIRMA's biannual seminar-the first outside Great Britain-Ms. Rossi said the association has been studying the use of derivatives in insurance for about two years and expects to announce its findings in the next few months.

She said commissioned consultants are "pursuing a different line of inquiry from anything which exists at the moment." The association is looking at ways to use derivatives in sectors of insurance other than the catastrophe risks, such as earthquakes or severe weather, to which they presently apply.

A LIRMA member said it would be in areas where premiums are volatile.

Robert Miller, an independent consultant involved in the work being done for LIRMA on derivatives, said in a separate seminar address that the products being researched can be useful in addressing the underwriting cycle.

Although the Chicago Board of Trade offers insurance futures contracts, they are U.S.-oriented and are modeled after conventional insurance policies, Mr. Miller said.

Such products will remain limited to U.S. exposures until other loss indices can be developed, which likely will take a considerable length of time, he added.

The work being done for LIRMA, which wants a mechanism for dealing in derivatives but has not decided how it might be done, is intended for the London insurance market and its customers, to offset the fluctuations of the insurance cycle.

It will complement activity in the catastrophe risk area, providing a means of mitigating some of the volatility in mainstream pricing, Mr. Miller said.

Meanwhile, LIRMA is exploring closer cooperation with the Institute of London Underwriters, which represents marine insurance companies in the London market.

The fact that LIRMA held its biennial seminar in Dublin is also a milestone in the association's attempts to portray itself as an international insurance organization.

LIRMA's previous 12 seminars have all been in Great Britain. About 150 delegates attended the seminar.

Ms. Rossi said LIRMA hoped the Dublin venue "emphasizes that we are an international organization." LIRMA has members in about 40 countries, including QBE Insurance & Reinsurance (Europe) Ltd., which is the first full-fledged member from the Republic of Ireland.