From the March 19-26, 2012 issue of National Underwriter Property & Casualty • Subscribe!

RMS Version 11.0: Impact on Jan. 1 Renewal Rates ‘Noticeable but Not Dramatic’

But pricing changes could be more pronounced in spring, summer negotiations

Those who were anticipating rates to harden due to substantial updates to Risk Management Solutions’ (RMS) U.S. hurricane model say the impact has—so far—turned out to be less than expected.

RMS Version 11.0 “wasn’t the driving factor that many people thought it would be when it came to renewals in January 2012,” says Insurance Information Institute President Robert Hartwig.

The updates to the cat model, which were based on analysis of billions of dollars in claims and reams of other data, increased wind-related loss estimates for noncoastal areas and even inland states.

It was widely assumed that as those changes filtered through risk portfolios, the impact on reinsurance rates for property exposures would be significant, especially for those with risk concentrations in Texas and the Gulf States.

So far that has not been the case, says James Few, president of Aspen Reinsurance in Hamilton, Bermuda: “The impact at Jan. 1 [renewals] was noted and was noticeable, but not dramatic.”

Few tells NU that Aspen Re, which has a close relationship with RMS, completed an analysis of Version 11.0 in 2011—and that the reinsurer believes the new model’s impact will be more evident with April, June and July renewals.

Why? “The changes of risk for U.S. wind are really quite significant—both in terms of frequency and severity,” Few notes, adding that RMS’ analysis is “very thorough. We think the vast majority of it is very valid, and we believe the market is about to come to that conclusion as well.”

Few says the market has taken longer than he expected to analyze and determine just how much of Version 11.0 will be accepted in their business strategies.

But since January, he adds, “more primary insurance companies and reinsurers are finally deciding that they do want to take on board the new science that RMS is bringing to the table.”

So the shift that was expected at the end of last year, Few explains, is just happening now: A number of companies are discovering they need to buy more reinsurance, he adds, which he believes will accelerate with April, June and July renewals.

So what took so long? Few believes it was because Version 11.0 was such a “dramatic change in science” for many companies. “A change of that magnitude, you can’t just accept at face value.”

Few adds: “An increase in the perception of risk makes it difficult to stay within your tolerances without either buying more reinsurance—which is what we’re seeing from primary carriers—or reducing your overall aggregate.”

Aspen Re CEO Brian Boornazian said during a conference call in January that rates at Jan. 1 renewals rose between 7.5 percent and 15 percent for larger property insurers and excess and surplus-lines writers in the U.S. More increases were seen on contracts affected by losses.

But Hartwig believes that Version 11.0 “was just one of many factors, including market conditions,” behind those increases. RMS Version 11.0’s influence on pricing has probably been overestimated, at least to date, he adds.

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