Reinsurance brokers are in total disarray and will not be able to meet the renewal season deadlines, warns the managing director of BMS Harns & Dixon.
Speaking at Baden-Baden, Steve Higginson said: "Reinsurers are very uncertain where they are going and no decisions are being made for a couple of weeks."
Tough times are ahead and this could leave many companies without insurance when renewing their policies, as insurers are spending up to a week assessing quotes.
Higginson said: "This is going to be a late renewal season and many insurers say they are going to take four to five days minimum to reply with a quote.
"The time requirements on January 1, 2002, will be enormously intense, as most people are saying they will not talk until November 9. That does not leave much time."
He said uncertainty about capacity and retrocession meant reinsurers could not commit firmly to any price or risks.
Reinsurers were working with a "hardline mentality", waiting for someone to lead pricing and many "do not know what the hell's going on", he said.
"It is going to be extremely difficult and complicated," he said.
"The brokers' role is going to be increasingly about giving quality information to answer all insurers' questions so they can make a decision as quickly as possible."