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Archive for September 2009
Transport Sector heading in the right direction?
By Insurance Blogger Kris Oldfield
Call it a credit crunch, an economic downturn or just a plain old recession the current financial situation is impacting in some form or another upon just about every single one of us and in many cases we having to adapt to survive. A recent survey by Marsh has highlighted the changes in attitude and strategy that are moving through the transportation and haulage insurance sector with nearly three quarters of Europe’s leading transportation firms set to review their approach to risk management in the near-term.
With just over half the respondents admitting that the Transportation sector had been hit harder than others the general mood is one of caution. Tellingly the research also shows that more than 80% of those questioned felt that Risk Management was of a much higher priority amongst senior management at their organisations since the economic downturn.
However despite the overwhelming majority of respondents seeing the need for re-assessing their risk management strategies, the research suggests that there is not necessarily a reduction in risk appetite as one may assume. The amount of respondents who felt that their board had become more risk adverse was equally matched by those who saw no change in their risk appetite (40%). Interestingly there was also a sizeable faction (14%) who believe that their organisations have actually increased their risk appetite as they look to prosper, by boldly maximising the opportunities created by their competitors caution during the downturn.
Unsurprisingly the biggest concerns in the sector are customer debt and in the near-term, credit risk. Nearly two thirds of the respondents stated that customer debt was their most significant concern with many citing the increased risk of credit lines and delayed or non payment as some of the key challenges they face. Over a quarter of all respondents also admitted that credit risk was a concern for their organization and one in six admitted that their company was either ‘fairly’ or ‘significantly’ affected by the reduced levels of trade credit available at present.
Mark Pollard, head of industry practices for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Marsh, commented that it was unsurprising that the European Transportation sector felt that it had been hit particularly hard by the recession as the industries primary function is the delivery of goods and passengers – demand for which historically has been shown to decline in periods of recession.
However in addition to this Pollard added that the fact that firms have been able to use the recession as a springboard to make essential reviews to their approach to risk management and improve upon their existing resilience was “extremely encouraging”.
With nearly a third of those surveyed confirming that they anticipate increasing their risk management spend, the signs seem to indicate that Pollard may well be correct – especially as this comes at a time when many other areas of business are being subjected to ruthless budget reviews and cost cutting measures. In fact less than 10% of Transportation companies have indicated that they believe that they will be reducing the expenditure of their risk management budgets, a statistic that seems a clear indicator of the direction in which the sector is now heading.
InsuranceBlogger is not surprised that Risk Management in the Transport sector is thriving despite the recession. The recession itself has led to an increase in haulier cargo insurance and marine cargo insurance claims through piracy and modern day Dick Turpin highwaymen.
The old adage ‘it fell off the back of a lorry’ appears to never has been as true, as the rise in cargo and goods in transit theft continues despite major Police offensives. InsuranceBlogger believes that the ‘black economy’ is the main driving force behind this as consumer spending polarises to the ‘boot sale’ economy. Watch this space for a detailed look at risks to the haulage industry!
Transport, Marine Insurance and Marine Cargo Insurance – The Oldest Profession
By Insurance Blogger Paul Magus
Insurance brokers were already an established feature of the London Commercial and Finance scene by the time of Queen Anne. At the beginning of the Eighteenth Century Stuart and Hanoverian England controlled most of the trade runs around the Globe and the British Empire was in its early heyday.
Insurance Brokers came into existence because the marine insurance of ships (hulls and cargoes) emerged slowly as the part-time occupation of a large and disorganised group of private individuals, some with specialised knowledge such as merchants, ship owners and bankers, but including a wide range of people whose only common characteristic was that they had capital to speculate and large profits were available for risk seekers during these enterprising times of discovery. The first insurance broker was a Marine insurance broker and came into being as a response to a need at the time.
This miscellaneous group of individuals included, at one time or another, such diverse figures as Samuel Pepys, the Admiralty civil servant and famous diarist, and Daniel Defoe, the celebrated journalist and novelist, but no doubt there were hundreds if not thousands of others who, in the gambling spirit of the age, were willing to put their signature to, that is to underwrite, a list of people sharing a risk.
Because of the hazardous nature of marine insurance, no one would gamble more than a fraction of his (or her) fortune on any particular vessel, and so someone had to run round the City to assemble a list of names to provide cover for each of the ships leaving port, the so called Lloyds List provided by an early bookies runner.
As Gibb writes in his Lloyds of London, the brokers were the fixed point in a floating market.
It was they who were the professionals, the full-time men who depended on insurance for their daily work and livelihoods, who kept recognised offices, knew the responsible underwriters and, through long experience, were best informed on the nature of marine risk.
Over the next 300 years of so until the present day, the evolution of insurance broking saw many ups and downs, but was characterised by three outstanding features: the growth, diversification and, most recently, amalgamation of insurance broker firms. Insurance products themselves have followed the insurance broker evolutionary path and likewise responded to the needs of the times.
How Mr Pepys would marvel at the way Insurance is now transacted everywhere across the Internet. Marine Insurance is readily available online today for global cover and risks and can as easily be obtained by the small boat owner seeking boat insurance cover as the large shipping magnate looking for cruise ship insurance. Equally available, Freight Forwarders Insurance and Marine Cargo Insurance< advice, risk information and quotes can also now easily be obtained online, as can tracking the progress of shipments.
“One event away from a hard market” says Willis CEO
By Insurance blogger Kris Oldland
It appears that somebody else has spotted some of those fabled green shoots as Tony Ursano CEO of Willis capital markets and advisory, a unit of Willis Group Holdings made bold predictions that their will be significant increase in Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) activity within the insurance industry as we move into 2010.
With the soft market creating a greater need for growth, diversification and specialization as insurers fiercely fight for every competitive edge, Insurance Mergers and Acquisitions deals may soon prove to be a much more valid alternative than perhaps they have been, throughout what has been a year of consolidation at best for most of the industry.
Citing key factors such as the increasing importance of the size and scale of companies for ratings agencies, investors and clients alike, Ursano sees the level of M&A activity increasing as financing capacity and terms begin to improve, more positive valuations increase confidence and markets begin to stabilize once again.
A bold statement indeed, especially when we consider that throughout the current year we have seen the average price of M&A deals fall to just 1.09 times the book value. It seems a lot longer than a year ago that M&A activity was a frequent occurrence and the average price in a deal was a whopping 2.46 times book value doesn’t it? The big question is can we really expect the market to come good again just as quickly as it fell apart?
Whilst maintaining such a positive outlook Ursano is no fool and he also remains cautiously realistic, as you would expect from a man in his position, as he reminds us that over 50% of insurance deals have “failed to create shareholder value”. Ursano again cited a number of factors including difficulties assessing the profitability of the target, the volatile nature of financing markets and of course the cyclical nature of the insurance markets as being responsible for the unsuccessful ventures.
However such caution is more to do with the nature of the M&A process rather than the external current external economic factors. If well thought out, thoroughly researched and expertly executed, an M&A deal can of course succeed on a shareholder level. The odds are further improved by a deal which has not only financial but also strategic benefits.
Companies looking to develop their position within the sector through acquisition need to ensure that the deal is positioned correctly and not just a reactionary move. Net earnings, return on equity and book value per share all need to be showing to justify the expense, but also there should be strong reasoned thought behind the strategic benefits to the acquisition. It is also imperative that there is total transparency of loss reserves available and committed financing placed upfront.
Of course one position that is often criminally neglected is ensuring that there is enough incentive to maintain appropriate staffing levels after acquisition – particularly the key management personnel that have made the target company such an interesting and compelling prospect in the first place.
Mr. Ursano certainly seems to think that the next chapter for the industry is not too far away. “We are one event away from a hard market” he said adding that the fantastic strains that are currently being placed on profitability and returns, alongside the reduced investment income now available in the sector and valuations being at an all-time low are creating a buyers market. With over 50 insurance and re-insurance companies trading at below their stated book value Ursano believes it could only take one major investment to “catapult the industry into a hard market.” We can but hope that he is right.
Whatever the next year holds however we can be certain of one thing in 2010 – the rules have changed this time round and it’s going to be one heck of an interesting year.
Thanks for that very useful insight Kris! You can find out more about what businesses are for sale in the Insurance world and register your interest by visiting Insurance Broker Buyers and Insurance Broker Sellers
Like me you are probably sick to death of the so called great offers being punted around every night on our TV screens by multi-national insurance companies, for car insurance and recently home insurance….
BRAND NEW CUSTOMERS ONLY
FREE CONTENTS INSURANCE
AND (beat this) YOU WON’T FIND US ON ANY COMPARISON SITES!
So lets look at these claims individually and in particular Aviva whose marketing department think they are being clever but whose tactics should actually see their book of business decrease!
BRAND NEW CUSTOMERS ONLY
Anybody who sees this despicable tactic (first used by that horrible fat bloke advertising Abbey National or whatever stupid name it is called now) used by their current insurance company should NOT RENEW their existing policy!
Why? Because they don’t give two figs about you or your business. They fail to realise that their existing customers are worth a lot more than ‘New business’ and quite frankly they don’t deserve you as a customer! You will end up paying much higher premiums at renewal than the ‘new’ policies and guess how they can afford these offers?
Yep! By overcharging their existing customers!
At Renewal MOVE!
FREE CONTENTS INSURANCE
Firstly they will overcharge you for your buildings insurance to cover the costs of the so called free cover, and you are only eligible if you pay the over inflated buildings cover as Minimum Premiums apply (in the small print at the bottom of the screen). There’s no such thing as a free lunch or contents insurance for that matter!
YOU WON’T FIND US ON ANY COMPARISON SITES!
Why? because you know as well as we do that your premiums and levels of cover will not stand up to the competition!
And finally while we are on the matter of Insurance Advertising, what the hell do those people? at AVIVA think they are doing by caricaturing with stereotypical mimicry certain elements of British society or in street parlance – taking the piss out of the Welsh, Plymouth Argyle Supporters and all those other stereotypes that are probably appearing in adverts, regionally up and down the country with those pathetic Bob Mortimer sketches.
Oi! Aviva! Don’t you realise the negative passions that are envoked every time an Exeter City FC or Torquay United fan sees that awful advert featuring yokels from Plymouth Argyle, will lead them to cancel their policies. Mind you what would you expect from a bunch of carrot crunching Delia Smith Supporters!
For both home insurance and car insurance, shop around and visit a comparison site if you want to save money!
Up the Gunners!