Ellen Bennett reviews the state of the property market

These are tough times. The property industry is facing its biggest challenge since the crash of the late 1990s. The credit crunch has hit the market at the lowest point in its cycle, at its most exposed. Demand for new commercial property has plummeted, giving investors serious jitters. Residential is not far behind in the slowdown, with major housebuilders saying they will have to stop building new properties, and doomsayers suggesting house prices could fall by as much as 25% in the next two years.

But what does this mean for the insurance market? For an industry that specialises in risk, a downturn is not always bad news. Amid the flames, there are opportunities.

In this supplement, Insurance Times examines the pros and the cons of the current economic climate. We look at:

• The rise in fraud as the housing market cools off, and the consequences for contents, buildings and buy-to-let insurance products.

• The collapse in commercial property values. How can insurers and brokers help their business partners in property, and will the market ever harden?

• It may be all doom and gloom now – but what does the future hold? We asked three key players to predict the shape of the market over the next 12 months.

• Aon’s Bill Gloyn is bringing the worlds of property and insurance together through his chairmanship of the City Property Association. He outlines his vision.

• The market is still suffering the aftershock of last summer’s floods, but how has the supply chain adapted?

• The first quarter of 2008 saw the worst single risk property losses since 9/11. What were they, and what does it mean?