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Insurance's catastrophic year impels it onto banks' terrain

The insurance industry is at a turning point. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, capacity shrank, rates rocketed, and losses mounted. Some cover is still hard to come by. Yet a dramatic resurgence is under way as new capital floods in and as insurers adopt alternative risk transfer, dubbed insurance-based investment banking. It's now evident that the terrorist crisis has not simply served to highlight the notoriously cyclical nature of the industry but has greatly accelerated long-term changes in the sector. So what role will the capital markets play in providing capacity? And how will the latest and largest calamity hasten the convergence between the distinct cultures of insurance and banking?


January 1 2002 may turn out to have been a timely moment to switch the regulation of Bermuda's fast-growing insurance sector

from the finance ministry to the Bermuda Monetary Authority. In the final weeks of last year, Bermuda was in the spotlight as more than $10 billion of capital poured into new and existing Bermudan insurance companies as part of a rapid recapitalization of the industry worldwide.

Home to a growing number of highly sophisticated insurers and reinsurers (which provide insurance to insurance companies), Bermuda is fast becoming a principal engine of change in the insurance industry. And, after last year's experiences, it is an industry that could be entering a period of profound change.

Bad years are nothing new in the insurance world. Just ask anyone who has been a member of an insurance syndicate - either in a private capacity or as a corporate member - at Lloyd's of London in recent times.

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