Bermuda officials said reinsurers and primary insurers incorporating there last year totaled 82–a three-year high for the island.

This was an almost 10 percent increase in the number of new companies incorporated in the jurisdiction over 2005, the Bermuda Monetary Authority reported.

A majority of the new companies were large, highly capitalized reinsurers, BMA said, adding that captive insurance companies also formed a significant proportion of the new incorporations.

BMA said the 82 incorporations compare very favorably with numbers from other jurisdictions such as Cayman Islands, 50; Vermont, 37; and South Carolina, 29.

Jeremy Cox, BMA supervisor of insurance, said his operation is pleased by “a clear indication of the continued confidence the market has in Bermuda as a leading global insurance and reinsurance center and the practical, effective regulatory framework in place here.”

Mr. Cox added that Bermuda remains focused on maintaining its leadership position as a captive domicile: “There is a collective recognition and commitment to the fact that captives remain a key element of the mix of high quality (re)insurance business conducted in Bermuda.”

By example, he said, BMA is very supportive of initiatives such as the Bermuda Captives Conference and being part of Bermuda’s presence at other international events focused on captive business.”

Bermuda continues to attract large commercial reinsurers and captives, as well as the primary market, he noted, pointing to the recent establishment in Bermuda of Class 4 insurer Ironshore Ltd., “as well as the wave of reinsurance companies from the UK, including Hiscox Re, Omega Re and Amlin Re…”

Shanna Lespere, deputy director at the BMA, said, “Over the past year on the captive side we have continued to see interest surrounding Bermuda’s servicing of the health care industry, as well as renewed interest in employee benefit program solutions.”

She said on the commercial side the most significant trend was the formation of a number of reinsurance sidecars, which entered the market to take advantage of capacity gaps in the property and catastrophe arena. “Even in the early part of 2007 we continue to see interest in this area,” said Ms. Lespere.

The incorporations are a success for Bermuda not just in number, Ms. Lespere said, “but also the high quality of the sponsors behind these companies, as well as the continued increases in premium volume written we have been recording over the years.”

Statistics for 2005, the latest available, show a total of $100.7 billion gross premiums written by the Bermuda market, compared with $95.3 billion the previous year.