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U.S., U.K. property cat rates may rise; report


LONDON— Property catastrophe rates from two major reinsurers are expected to rise next year for United Kingdom and United States policyholders but it is not yet clear whether property owners in Continental Europe will see increases, according to a recent report from a reinsurance intermediary.

The rate hikes are coming after a relatively benign 2006 hurricane season and strong performances by the reinsurers tracked in the survey conducted by Benfield Group Ltd. and released this week.

Hannover Re Group and Munich Reinsurance Co. indicated in the Benfield European Quarterly report covering the first nine months of 2006 that property catastrophe rate hikes were certain for U.S. policyholders but not yet determined for much of Europe.

Rates on Hannover Re programs impacted by 2005's hurricane season have increased by up to 100% or more and the reinsurer is "very confident" of further year-on-year increases for American policyholders, the report states.

Munich Re stated that 30% hikes in U.S. catastrophe business this summer likely will be maintained at the January 1 renewal.

Both reinsurers said price hikes are likely for U.K. property owners but increases for risks in continental Europe were not certain.

Hannover Re said that Europe outside the United Kingdom was "anybody's guess" in terms of where rates are headed.

The report, which also covers results by SCOR S.A. and Converium Holding Ltd., indicated that the reinsurers' premium volume showed little growth over the first three quarters as their appetite for U.S. catastrophe business was contained. They expressed optimism that full-year results would be strong, with Hannover Re anticipating a "vintage year," according to the report.