Stricter rules likely to increase insurance, reinsurance pricing: IIS panelPosted On: Jun. 21, 2012 12:00 AM CST
RIO DE JANEIRO—International regulatory changes will bring some advantages to reinsurers, but ultimately they are likely to lead to higher prices for insurance coverage, a panel of reinsurance executives said Wednesday.
While measures such as the European Union's Solvency II regime will put a sharper focus on risk management, which will benefit everyone in the insurance chain, the costs of complying with the conservative capital requirements will be pushed on to insurance consumers, they said.
Solvency II is a new insurance regulatory regime that incorporates stricter capital, risk management and governance requirements for insurance entities in the European Union.
“For reinsurers, it's back to basics because we've been we've been using capital models for a while to measure underwriting risks,” said Pedro de Macedo, chairman and CEO of Mapfre Re, a unit of Mapfre S.A. in Madrid. He spoke Wednesday during a session of the International Insurance Society Seminar in Rio de Janeiro.
The risk management requirements of Solvency II will help insurers and reinsurers better understand their risk profiles, he said.
That could lead to more business for reinsurers, said James E.D. Vickers, chairman of Willis Re International & Specialty in London.
“It will force primary companies to look at risk in a different way and they may buy more reinsurance,” Mr. Vickers said.
For reinsurers to run their businesses properly, they need to match their capital with the risks they are taking on and “we were founded with that concept,” said Neill A. Currie, president and CEO of RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd. in Pembroke, Bermuda.
He said, though, that while rating agencies were criticized during the financial crisis when rated institutions in the mortgage business had financial problems, the rating agencies “do a pretty good job in the reinsurance business.” In addition, reinsurance is a sophisticated business and cedents can differentiate between the reinsurers in the market, Mr. Currie said.
Solvency II has implications for reinsurers outside the European Union, noted Joseph E. Consolino, president and chief financial officer of Validus Holdings Ltd. in Pembroke, Bermuda.
“Operating in Bermuda, Solvency II is very much a reality for us; so whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, we have to be involved,” he said. It’s very important for Bermuda-based reinsurers that Bermuda is classified as an equivalent regime to avoid complex regulatory challenges for the companies domiciled there and operating internationally, he said.
While Solvency II will have some benefits, “maybe it has gone a bit too far in terms of complexity,” said Mr. Macedo of Mapfre. “We could end up having more people controlling business than practicing business.”
And higher capital requirements that will result from the regime are likely to lead to higher premium rates as reinsurers and insurers pass on the associated costs to their policyholders, he said.