Daily Willis Review | 11th April 2018

2017 global insured losses highest ever: Swiss Re
According to the latest Swiss Re sigma study, global economic losses from natural and man-made disasters were $337 billion in 2017, almost double 2016 losses and the second highest on record.

Global insured losses from disaster events reached $144 billion, the highest-ever recorded in a single year, with the majority of losses occurring from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria (HIM).

With global economic losses at $337 billion and insured losses at $144 billion, the worldwide catastrophe protection gap was $193 billion for 2017.

The HIM hurricanes resulted in combined insured losses of $92 billion, making 2017 the second costliest North Atlantic hurricane season since 2005.

2017 was also a record year for wildfires, the study found, with wildfires across the globe resulting in combined insurance losses of $14 billion, the highest ever.

In terms of sigma criteria, 2017 saw 301 catastrophes worldwide, compared to 329 catastrophes in 2016.

More than 11,000 people lost their lives or went missing as a result of a disaster event, with millions left homeless in 2017, the report said.

AXA to restructure its Swiss group life business
AXA Switzerland has announced plans to convert its main occupational benefits foundations (Foundations) business model from a full-value insurance model to a semi-autonomous model, by the end of 2018.

From 2019, death and disability pensions and administration services will be covered by AXA, while responsibility for asset allocation and investment returns to policyholders will be with the Foundations.

The company said that ongoing low-interest rates and strong regulatory requirements in Switzerland have resulted in full-value insurance becoming increasingly lower value for money.

As part of the model transformation, AXA will transfer most of its ‎€26 billion ($32 billion) in-force general account reserves backing the pre-retirement savings benefits in its group life portfolio to the foundations.

Thomas Buberl, Chief Executive Officer of AXA, said: “This model transformation, initiated and managed by our local teams, is a further important step in our ongoing in-force management program, systematically reassessing customer needs and taking proactive actions, to create value for our customers and shareholders at the same time.”

White Mountains to begin self-tender offer
White Mountains Insurance Group has announced plans to begin a “modified Dutch auction” self-tender offer to purchase 500,000 of its common shares.

The company will offer between $825 and $875 per share, net to the seller in cash, and the tender offer is expected to close May 7, 2018.

The “modified Dutch auction” self-tender offer will allow shareholders to indicate how many shares and at what price within the company’s specified range they wish to tender their shares.

Once the shares have been tendered and the prices specified by the tendering shareholders, White Mountains will determine the lowest price per share within the range that will enable it to purchase 500,000 shares.

The tender offer will not be conditioned upon any minimum number of shares being tendered but will be subject to certain conditions, as will be specified in the offer to purchase.

Neon appoints Contingency Underwriter
Neon Underwriting has announced the appointment of Jeremy Cooke as Contingency Underwriter.

In his new role, Mr. Cooke will be responsible for establishing Neon’s name within the event cancellation market, an area previously written on an opportunistic basis, the company said.

He joins the company from Barents Re, where he most recently served as Head of Contingency, and he has held underwriting roles at ProSight Specialty Insurance and Chubb.

According to the release, Mr. Cooke’s appointment is in line with the company’s plans to refresh its proposition and portfolio offering.

Darren Lednor, Chief Underwriting Officer at Neon, said: “We have made strong progress in consolidating our existing portfolio and this has given us an excellent platform from which to expand into new lines.

“Neon is a dynamic business and we are committed to attracting fresh, experienced talent as we continue to grow.”