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Reinsurance Rates Won’t Rise in January, Allianz Re Says

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Property and casualty reinsurance rates won’t increase in January when the industry renews the majority of its annual contracts with clients, the head of Allianz SE’s reinsurance arm said.

“Rates will probably be flat to a little down in January,” Amer Ahmed, chief executive officer of Allianz Re, said in an interview in Munich. “Compared to last year, 2012 has been a quiet catastrophe year and reinsurers will be eager to keep their volumes on the back of good results.”

Reinsurers, which help primary insurers shoulder risks in return for a share of the premiums, pushed through higher prices on the back of last year’s record $105 billion of claims for disasters including the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan and floods in Thailand. They will struggle to boost prices next year after losses from natural catastrophes declined in 2012 and reinsurers accumulated record levels of capital.

Allianz Re posted an operating loss of 101 million euros ($131 million) last year and would expect a profit of 300 million euros to 400 million euros in a “normal year,” Ahmed said in March. With no significant catastrophe losses except those from superstorm Sandy, 2012 has been an “abnormally good” year, he said this week, while declining to give further details on the outlook for earnings.

Highly Uncertain

Sandy may result in insured losses of as much as $25 billion according to Swiss Re Ltd., the world’s second-biggest reinsurer, making it this year’s most expensive event for insurers and reinsurers. The storm made landfall in New Jersey in October, damaging property and interrupting business in states including New York.

“While Sandy was more significant than what was initially imagined, estimates on its costs are still highly uncertain,” Ahmed said. “It will be interesting to see the impact of it on the U.S. catastrophe reinsurance programs that are up for renewal in January.”

Insured catastrophe losses totaled $12 billion in the first half of this year, according to Munich Re, the world’s biggest reinsurer. That compares with about $82 billion in the same period of 2011.

This year’s low claims bill has helped reinsurers accumulate a record $480 billion of capital by the end of June, according to a report by Aon Benfield, the largest reinsurance broker.

Allianz Re, which gets about 80 percent of its business from other units of Allianz, Europe’s biggest insurer, began to clean up its third-party reinsurance business last year to boost profitability. Property and casualty reinsurance contributed 88 percent of Allianz Re’s premium income of 3.8 billion euros last year.

“Going forward, we will focus our third-party business on key clients across their reinsurance portfolio and on key markets such as Asia and agricultural reinsurance,” Ahmed said. “We would rather have a consistent relationship with a customer than being an insignificant provider of reinsurance capacity.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Oliver Suess in Munich at osuess@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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