Jonathan Morris, Managing Director of the BMS Retro team, considers the hot topics for debate at the upcoming Baden Baden Meeting.

I have been going to Baden Baden for the last four years and although relatively internationally focused, it has become an increasing important conference where after the early discussions of Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous; we finally get down to business and focus on client/contract specific topics. This concentration of market players in one location all with a focus on the renewal season ahead, to my mind makes Baden the real beginning of the new season.

BMS Re will be represented this year by myself and Georgina Glander. We will be hosting meetings between our clients and their markets. We also plan to see other existing and potential retro markets form Europe, Bermuda, Barbados and Scandinavia. These markets include hedge funds as well as traditional reinsurance.

I think the key discussions at Baden Baden will be focused around the poor results relating to the sizeable losses experienced in New Zealand and Japan earlier in the year and how these losses will impact throughout the market and potentially drive change. It is obvious that it will take more than one year to recoup such exceptional losses and to get clients’ portfolios back into the black.

Capacity is always a hot topic and this year talk will be around whether traditional or less-traditional forms of capacity emerging from capital-based market will be used to complete programs. These new players in the retro scene are good for clients, as a buyer they need a mix of traditional and capital markets to try to smooth out any volatility in pricing each year. There is an increase in choice for clients overall, be it Insurance linked securities (ILS), Industry Loss Warranties (ILW), traditional cover or capital markets.

In terms of the retrocessional market, it is early days regarding 1/1 renewals, but Baden will set the scene for the latter weeks in December when the decisions are made. Our biggest competitors are ‘net retentions’ and deductibles. For me, if retro reinsurance is too expensive; people will buy less of it and stay out of the marketplace for longer, which is not what we want.

I foresee loss reporting from cedants as growing concern for reinsurers and their retro reinsurers. Earthquake losses, in particular, take a long time to gather reliable data from, so both the Japanese earthquake and New Zealand have taken a long time to get accurate loss estimates to base any sort of pricing around.

Overall it is definitely going to be a tough renewal season for all concerned and I believe the above themes will dominate the industry conferences for some time to come.