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Another year of costly natural catastrophes—including the worst U.S. tornado season in 50 years, massive insured losses arising from the floods in Thailand, the Japan earthquake and consequent tsunami, and further seismic activity in New Zealand—is causing many insurance-industry stakeholders to wonder just how many more unexpected levels of loss they can tolerate.

Concurrent with these events is continuing pressure on bottom-line results from the soft market and historically low investment yields. The volatility of global equity and bond markets is providing additional challenges, particularly to P&C insurers that have adopted aggressive investment strategies.

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