WEEKLY NEWS - 24 June 2005 << More of this week's news Cedants accuse reinsurers of irrational approach to German industrial business
Sharply different views on the state of the market were voiced by industrial customers, primary insurers and reinsurers during apanel discussion organised by the insurance faculty of the Cologne University of Applied Science.
Hermann Jörissen, board member in charge of liability at industrial insurer Gerling, criticised reinsurers for their underwritingpolicy in the pharmaceutical and chemical market. While the need for capacity was about Eu5bn ($6bn) to Eu10bn, the insurancemarket could only offer Eu1bn to Eu2bn. "To me, this is a proof of poverty," said Mr Jörissen.
Some reinsurers were dominated by fear, particularly in the pharmaceutical market, Mr Jörissen said. "Meanwhile, irrationalismhas run rampant," he said.
Ludger Arnoldussen, chief executive of Swiss Re Germany, defended the underwriting policy of his company, which is trying toenforce much stricter conditions, especially for pharmaceutical risks. "There are risks. We can bear some of them; others are notcontrollable," he said.
Arnoldussen said customers were not giving reinsurers enough information, for instance when a pharmaceutical companywanted coverage for $1bn when the risk was likely to run up to $10bn. "For us, this poses the question whether this is the totalrisk which has to be covered or whether there is an imbalance of information? Does the customer have more information than thereinsurer?"
Ralf Oelssner, risk manager for Lufthansa and head of the German risk managers association DeutscherVersicherungsschutzverband, criticised the approach of reinsurers to the needs of their customers and demanded a change inthe way insuerers and reinsurers do business. "In the beginning, there is always the exclusion," said Oelssner. "It's high time thatall players in the market try to re-establish faith in the market."
He said it is very difficult for customers to evaluate the market, for instance with regard to insurers' ratings. "Sometimes youcannot catch up with the speed ratings change," he said, adding that reinsurers were carrying their rating like a "phallus symbol". "But in reality, they have taken Viagra," said Oelssner. He added: "For the customer, the cover is more important than the price."
Wilhelm Zeller, chief executive offficer of Hannover Re, said that discussions about finite reinsurance were wrongly mixing abuseby some with perfectly legitimate finite reinsurance, which he said plays an important role. Seven supervisory bodies around theworld have asked the reinsurer to provide details of finite reinsurance deals. Hannover Re was in no instance accused ofwrongdoing. "We cooperate with the authorities," he said, adding that it takes a lot of highly qualified staff to do so.
Jan Störmann, head of the German operation of Guy Carpenter, said that the Marsh scandal in the US had not hit relationshipswith customers in Germany. "We learned a lot from Spitzer, and it was a painful experience," he said.
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