2017 saw a mixed picture for the 34 reinsurance companies tracked in the Willis Reinsurance Index, according to the latest reinsurance market report from Willis Re.Shareholders’ equity in 34 reinsurance companies tracked in the Willis Reinsurance was up 7.8% to USD 371 billion at year-end 2017.


The increase occurred despite catastrophe losses, which led to a weighted combined ratio for the tracked reinsurers of 104.8%, up 10.4 percentage points from the previous year.


Alternative capital also increased to USD 88 billion (year-end 2016: USD 75 billion), despite the draw-down of some catastrophe bonds and collateralized reinsurance and retrocession layers in the wake of the 2017 Atlantic hurricanes.In a new combined ratio analysis, Willis Re compared 2017 with the severe catastrophe-affected years of 2005 and 2011.


The analysis shows that the reported combined ratio for 2017 was 107.4% compared with 108.2% in 2011 and 112.8% in 2005.


James Kent, Global CEO, Willis Re, said: “2017 was one of the worst years on record for insured natural catastrophe losses.However, today the global reinsurance market is able to deploy more capital than at the same time last year. When a few exceptional transactions are considered, total reinsurance capacity is roughly stable, despite the hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and other events which brought misery to millions of people in 2017. That’s a significant achievement for the reinsurance market, and a testament to its strength.”


He continued: “Comparing the 2017 natural catastrophe experience with 2005 and 2011 shows that a number of large global property catastrophe reinsurance accounts were not impacted by the events of 2017. The primary market retained more of the losses from the year’s numerous catastrophe events under higher retentions. T


“The pressure on traditional reinsurers from alternative capital suppliers is stronger  than ever, as many participants in this market cleared their first true major test. This increase in alternative capital, as well as the global reinsurance market having more capital to deploy, is continuing to dampen price increases in the mid-year renewals.”