Confidence returning to business but market still soft

The latest Lockton Market Update says that most markets continue to be stable, and prices are soft and capacity high but confidence appears to be returning to the business world, albeit cautiously.

Companies with strong financials, good loss histories and well-documented risk management procedures should benefit from the current market conditions, the broker says.

It warns that the benign market conditions could change this year because of the Haiti and Chile earthquakes. Highlights from the report include:

Product Recall

Ian Harrison from Lockton’s Global Casualty team said: “There is an increase in both supply and demand for recall cover, demonstrating the healthily state of the market. We now have potentially eight lead markets, primarily based in London, all with alternative wordings, response consultants, and different industry specialisations, providing a level of choise and competition not seen before for primary risks. On an excess basis, capacity remains available allowing programmes of $200,000,000 plus to be placed for catastrophic exposures if required.”

Professional Indemnity

Steve Holland, executive director of Lockton’s Risks Solutions team said: “Despite a challenging environment, market rates remained relatively stable, particularly for those firms able to demonstrate good risk management and better than-average claims experience. Be that as it may, the UK PI market continues to trade through a particularly challenging period. Many professions are experiencing intense competition, and the recession has decreased company fee income and increased claims frequency. On this basis, the UK PI market is facing mounting losses and will remain challenging for insurers for some years to come.”

International property

Brendan Scofield, regional MD of Lockton’s Global Property team said: “For clients with very small critical catastrophe exposures, rates are reducing by a significant amount, as underwriters are looking to grow their portfolio and maintain income. However, large global placements provide a different challenge, as there are very few insurers capable of issuing paper in multiple territories. Overall the global property market is soft with plenty of capacity, but the recent earthquakes have reminded us of the power of nature to undermine the best laid plans of individuals and corporations.”

Reinsurance

Stephen Hitchcock, Managing Director, Lockton Re said: “Reinsurers have maintained pricing discipline through the January and April renewals. Where we go from here depends essentially on how long this discipline will last in the absence of marketing-changing claims activity. Certainly, the current market is soft, but do not count on it getting softer. The roller coaster may just be gearing up for its next ascent.”

The Market Update also provides analysis of other markets including: Terrorism, Cargo, Marine Hull, Global Casualty, Contingency and Aviation.