ABIR’s big contribution


This Willis Re graph shows property catastrophe pricing trends since 1990.

1,516 employees in Bermuda.

$886.8 million spent in Bermuda.

Those are the two standout numbers form the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers’ annual report, and there’s good news and not so good news associated with them.

The good news is that the $886 million figure is an increase of almost $70 million from a year earlier – no small potatoes these days.

The not so good news is that the 1,516 employees are 73 fewer than a year earlier. However, ABIR points out that this is partly due to its own membership changes. When the 17 members who reported in 2013 are compared directly to the same members in 2012, the decline is much smaller – six.

Among Bermudian employees, there were 992 in 2013, down 86 from 2012. Again, when apples are compared with apples, the decline is only 16. So that’s not good, but not catastrophic.

The other number worth noting is this one: “In 2013, 24 employees left Bermuda to work for their companies outside of Bermuda, of which 20 were Executive/Senior/or Middle Management positions. In 2012, 32 employees left Bermuda to work for their companies outside of the country.”

That’s a sign that the trend is slowing, but it’s disappointing that it has not been reversed. Keep in mind it’s senior executives who spend the big money.

But Mike McGavick, Chair of the ABIR Board, and CEO of XL Group, has some positive things to say about this: “The Government’s action to ease business travel restrictions, lengthen work permits and foster long term residence opportunities will bear fruit over time in employee location decisions.

“For every employee we bring to Bermuda, more jobs for Bermudians are created. The trend towards consolidation and the soft market conditions, however, will continue to affect our local employment.”

The latter point is important.

The reinsurance industry is going through a once-every-few-decades soft market, with rates declining rapidly. ILS has contributed something to this, but the bottom line is that this is not a hiring market, so giving insurers more reasons to base executives here will be offset to some extent. But not taking these measures means things would be worse.

One further point: ABIR members are a big chunk of the re/insurance market in Bermuda, not the whole shooting match. So their contribution is only a part of the insurance industry’s contribution.

Final, final point. Ask yourself what Bermuda would look like without that $880 million a year and 1,500 foreign exchange earning jobs.  Very scary.

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