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(Reuters) – Half of the chief financial officers at property insurance companies say they are near their limit for investment risk, yet roughly a third expect to become more aggressive in the next year, according to a study released on Monday that underlines the challenges that low interest rates pose to insurers.

The Towers Watson survey of 32 CFOs from North American property and casualty companies broadly mirrors a similar survey the consultancy conducted of life insurers this summer, where 40 percent said they had already breached the risk limits they had set.

Interest rates have become a preoccupation for the insurance industry, which relies on steady long-term returns to fund its obligations. With rates stuck at historic lows and little prospect of change in the next few years, insurers are pushing their limits to find sufficient returns.

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