Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Surfeit of Natural Disasters: Good for Insurance Companies?

It might seem counter-intuitive, but does the recent increase in the number of natural disasters provide profit opportunities for insurance companies?

By: Ringo Bones

Insurance company Lloyds had recently dubbed 2010 as “The Year of Natural Disasters”. In retrospect, even before the year is out, it does seem that 2010 could be the year of natural disasters. Like the tragic earthquake in Haiti at the start of the year, followed by months later a much stronger earthquake in Chile and the more recent one in New Zealand. Not to mention the extreme monsoon floods in Pakistan back in July and the wildfires brought about by a prolonged drought in Russia. Thus making 2010 a year of natural disasters, but how is this good for insurance companies?

The earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and New Zealand, the extreme monsoon floods in Pakistan and the prolonged drought that started a fire in Russia might have resulted in a 57% drop in forecasted profits this year for Lloyds of London due to insurance payouts. But the famed insurance company’s ability to pay it’s policyholders through thick and thin had resulted in more corporations availing themselves of more insurance policies against natural disasters. Doesn’t more policies – in other words capital input – usually translate to more potential profit?

Anyway you look at it, most of the existing insurance companies – if they play their cards right – could probably profit from the opportunities provided by the “Year of Natural Disasters” through increased capital input in the form of new clients / new policyholders. Corporations that avail themselves of natural disaster policies with guaranteed payouts can be one sure way to hedge their assets against potential risks. It is only logical that more issued policies usually translate themselves to more profits for the insurance company providing them.

No comments: