How we reported on Japan

The Japanese earthquake and tsunami have of course dominated the (re)insurance pages for the last 10 days or so. I have mentioned before on these pages the slightly odd nature of being a business journalist at a time like this and having to focus on the financial consequences of what is essentially a human tragedy.

So how did the (re)insurance press cover this extraordinary catastrophe?

Reinsurance Magazine was on the cusp of going to press when the quake struck. It still managed to get a striking image of a boat trapped in a whirlpool onto the cover and include some thoughts that this may be the event that finally turns the soft market on the inside.

Others with more time at their disposal have managed to analyse some of the myriad aspects of this disaster.

Business Insurance has been looking at the estimates for the total economic losses caused by the catastrophe, with the help of the cat modelling firms.

BI reports that at present RMS are still hedging their bets and have a spread of $200bn-$300bn on the economic loss while rivals AIR and EQECAT estimate that insured losses are $15-$35bn and $12-$25bn respectively.

This “guessing game” over the exact nature and totality of the losses is discussed in Michael Loney’s comment piece in Reactions.

The article goes on to highlight the uncertainty now afflicting investors, which (re)insurers will take a hit and why it is unlikely that this loss, even taken in conjunction with events in Australasia, will harden global (re)insurance rates.

One reinsurer that definitely will take a hit is Munich Re, as Post reported, the German giant has revealed it expects losses of EUR1.5bn and that means it won’t hit its profit target of EUR2.4bn for 2011.

One area that stands out for its lack of coverage in contrast to that of the mainstream news is the ongoing travails of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactors.

This is because the vast majority of the loss will be retained by the Japanese government, although Post reports that nuclear rates may increase regardless.

Meanwhile The Review highlights the possible impact on ratings and the moderate affect on the Life market.

And The Insurance Insider reveals that Lloyd’s has assigned the event its own loss code, the code 11D, helping the Franchise Board keep track of the size and volume of claims.

The Insider also discusses the knock-on affect the disaster may have on aspects as diverse as the personal accident market, Industry Loss Warranties and catastrophe bonds.

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