Canadian Underwriter

Mixed outlook for European insurers: Fitch

March 29, 2004   by Canadian Underwriter

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Signs of recovery are evident, but problems linger for European non-life insurers and reinsurers, says Fitch Ratings.
The rating agency is continuing its stable outlook for non-life insurers in most European countries, noting operating results should continue to improve over the next 12 to 24 months. Disciplined underwriting and a focus on technical profits are helping insurers recover, while insurers are focusing on profitable lines of business and withdrawing from unprofitable lines, or disposing of non-core lines of business. “Consequently Fitch does not expect to see a dramatic rise in the competitive environment in the near term.”
The only exception is France, which enjoys a positive outlook on the back of its reduction in non-life claims frequency and severity, the rate notes.
Reinsurers, however, continue with a negative outlook due to concerns over reserve adequacy, particularly amongst the large, established players, Fitch notes. Nonetheless, reinsurers with clean balance sheets who are not dragged down with legacy reserve issues should flourish in the hard market environment, particularly compared to established companies still trying to shore up reserves and produce an adequate return on capital.

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