But 2010 could be more challenging, according to a Cooper Gay report

A general recovery in the global investment markets and an absence of major catastrophes ensured 2009 was a very profitable year for the reinsurance industry according to Cooper Gay's 2010 reinsurance market review.

While the primary market struggled under a number of factors including attritional losses, local competition pressurising rates and limited scope for premium income growth, the reinsurance sector proved to be more robust.

With 2009 being a year of low activity for major disasters, either man made or natural, the market review concluded that the plentiful supply of capital led to a general softening of reinsurance rates across most classes. Other trends saw capital market activity also picking up significantly in 2009 with 19 catastrophe bonds issued with a combined value of $3.5bn.

Seymour Matthews, chairman of reinsurance at Cooper Gay, said: "Couple the low loss levels with a better investment performance than expected and 2009 will go down as a very profitable year.

"2010 however has already been shaken by the terrible loss of life in Haiti although the financial impact is unlikely to affect regional pricing. Of more impact to the reinsurance sector is likely to be an expected increase in hurricane activity in 2010 with forecasts of an above average hurricane season."