Exclusive insight and analysis from Insurance Times, Global Reinsurance and Strategic Risk.

The UK is now officially in recession and the insurance industry is bracing itself for a tough year. Insurers and brokers are positioning their businesses to weather the storm, and this month Insurance Agenda has put together an eight-point guide to beating the downturn (page 2).

Despite the economic gloom, comfort can be drawn from the fact that premium rates are beginning to harden in some lines of business. But the upward progress of rates may not be a foregone conclusion (page 3).

Trade credit insurers have come under fire in recent months for pulling cover from businesses. The government plans to intervene in the sector to help struggling companies. But while state aid will help the economy, it could threaten the industry (page 4).

Efforts are also being made to tighten up the regulation of credit rating agencies, a sector that has been strongly criticised for its role in the financial crisis. Although the new measures are helpful, they do not go far enough (page 5).

Global insurance programmes bought by multinational companies are also in the spotlight. It appears that some programmes may not be compliant with local laws. This is an issue that the insurance industry must address urgently (page 6).

Finally, offshore financial centres are being targeted by a number of governments, including our own. David Sandham argues that these centres are being unfairly maligned (page 7).