The Intelligent Quarterly from the publishers of The Insurance Insider

Autumn 2017

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The Insurance Insider Monte Carlo 2017 Day 2

Over the weekend, a huge bloc of Rendez-Vous-ers found that what seems very simple on paper can be fiendishly difficult in practice.

Normally, getting to and through Nice airport is a refreshing breeze compared with the congested hubs most delegates have departed from, but this year was different.

Thunderstorms effectively shut Nice for long periods and the delays started to rack up. My plane confidently pushed back from the stand in London, only to wait on the tarmac for over two hours before finally taking off.

My TripAdvisor-sourced 9pm dinner reservation in Nice was (soggy) toast.

By the time I got into town I had just 45 minutes before the last train left for Monaco.

In no time the unhurried classic French dîner I had been dreaming of all week had turned into a snatched kebab.

Some of my team had it worse. For them Nice became Marseille, which may look similar in broad geographical terms, but is nothing of the sort when you are tired, hungry and just want to get to your hotel.

It put my kebab-dinner swap into perspective.

Before the weekend it looked like we were going to get something from Irma that was going to shake and test our industry to its very core. We seem to have swapped that for something less spectacular - a three-course French meal for a Sunday roast, if you will.

Irma has chosen west coast over east and has weakened as she has moved over the western Florida peninsular.

If you had offered to trade Miami for Tampa at our Honours dinner in London on Thursday night, most underwriters would have happily taken the deal.

That night John Charman predicted that Irma would bring a night of the long knives and a time of reckoning for our business.

Maybe today the knives are shorter and less sharp? But as any keen chef will tell you, blunt knives still cut through flesh, and are far more likely to slip and cause mishaps.

And the fact remains that there is still a maniac running around with a knife and she's called Irma.

At the time of writing Irma has caused heavy flooding in central Miami, despite its westerly trajectory, and triggered widespread storm surge warnings. And its strike in the Tampa Bay area is bound to be a big loss and will deplete the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (FHCF) to some degree.

When Florida carriers have had a big hit to their programmes and see the FCHF weakened and at the mercy of politics, they will feel a little naked.

Their behaviour will change drastically and demand for back-ups will rocket. Some won't be able to afford it, even at pre-loss pricing. They will just have to rely on hope.

Because there's one fact we can't swap for an alternate reality.

There is a long way of a very active 2017 hurricane season to go, plenty more letters in the alphabet and more knives in the drawer.

To read the second of our daily issue from the Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous 2017 please click here.

Mark Geoghegan,
Managing Director,
Insider Publishing

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