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Fitch says strong results will curb reinsurance rate hikes


MONTE CARLO, Monaco—Reinsurance buyers will likely see lower rates in 2007 and 2008, in the absence of any major catastrophic losses, according to Fitch Ratings.

The reinsurance industry is expected to produce a strong operating profit for 2006, noted Chris Waterman, a senior director at Fitch in London, in a presentation at the 50th annual Rendez-Vous de Septembre reinsurance meeting in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

The combined ratio for the overall reinsurance industry for the 2006 will likely be in the range of 95% to 106%, he said, which reflects the technically profitable rates currently being charged in most lines, the large rate increases seen on many lines of business in 2006 and limited adverse reserve development, among other factors.

The market remains cyclical, despite reinsurers' attempts to better manage their risks on an enterprise-wide basis, Fitch noted in a report on the reinsurance sector that it published at the Rendez-Vous.

In 2006, there has been a divergence in rating trends, with prices for catastrophe-exposed property risks increasing sharply in many cases—particularly at July 2006 renewals—while rates for liability business have, in some instances, begun to decline, noted Mr. Waterman.

That divergence is expected to continue in 2006, he noted, and average rates are expected to decline modestly in 2007 with a continued downward trend in rates predicted for 2008.