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Reinsurance capacity in 2024 – what will be the primary source? | Insurance Business UK

Report suggests that there will be competition

Reinsurance capacity in 2024 – what will be the primary source?


By Kenneth Araullo

A recent report from Bloomberg Intelligence (BI) suggests that alternative-reinsurance vehicles are poised to remain the dominant source of new capacity in the reinsurance market for 2024, continuing to exert pressure on pricing within the industry.

This trend emerges in a landscape where traditional balance-sheet reinsurance capacity has seen negligible growth, with the notable exception of a capital increase at Everest Re.

In 2023, the issuance of catastrophe bonds surged to an unprecedented $16.4 billion, with anticipated returns maintaining a position above long-term averages. Matthew Palazola, a senior insurance analyst at BI, highlighted that the reinsurance sector might see continued expansion due to the allure of high returns from alternative capital sources, such as catastrophe bonds, insurance-linked securities (ILS), and sidecars.

“Alternative reinsurance capital dates back to the mid-1990s and has risen to about 16% of the market from 10% in 2014,” Palazola said. “Smoother capital-market transactions have made it easier for funding to enter the industry, which has limited price gains after large catastrophes.”

Despite significant price hikes during the 2023-24 period, there was virtually no addition to balance-sheet reinsurance capacity beyond Everest Re’s capital infusion. Historically, robust markets have seen the establishment of new companies, notably in 2001 and 2005.

Catastrophe bonds experienced a strong inflow in 2023, recording over $16 billion in issuances, a stark increase from the $10 billion in 2022 and $14 billion in 2021. The uptick in issuances could continue as enhanced pricing and rising money-market rates, which secure the collateral, amplify yields, offering more attractive expected returns.

This, coupled with insurers’ higher attachment points and retentions, may further fuel interest in cat bonds.

The BI report also notes the potential for increased capital flows into the ILS market due to reduced capacity in traditional reinsurance and higher premium rates. The public issuance of 144a catastrophe bonds reached $16.4 billion in 2023, with investor demand for property/catastrophe exposure soaring post-Hurricane Ian, as evidenced by a 37% price increase globally at the January 1, 2023, renewals according to Howden.

These higher prices, along with money-market returns, offer significant yield enhancements, providing insurers with capital to cover more risks. However, the ILS market’s structure, which permits cedents to extend maturities, may lead to investor caution. Instances of capital being trapped, such as in 2022 following Hurricane Ian, have occurred when cedents secure collateral post-maturity while assessing potential losses.

Palazola pointed out that the expected returns on catastrophe bonds, net of anticipated losses and excluding money-market fund yields, are at their highest since 2012.

“The current catastrophe-bond multiple, as measured by, is at around 4.54x, 34% higher than 2022’s 3.38x and 144% better than 2017,” he said. “Multiples compressed in the 2010s as capital entered both the ILS and traditional reinsurance market, creating a supply-demand imbalance and dampening pricing across reinsurance products. Coupon rates in 2023 averaged 8.9%, the highest since 2012, and expected losses fell to 1.8%, the lowest since 2014’s 1.6%.”

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