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Argo Group eyeing cheaper reinsurance rates

Reinsuranceprices may be falling enough to entice Argo Group International Holdings Ltd.

Respondingto an analyst question during a conference call to discuss first-quarter results,Argo Group President and CEO Mark Watson III said the company has felt less ofa need to buy reinsurance in recent years because its underwriting portfoliohas become more diversified.

But"with reinsurance pricing continuing to decline, we've been looking atwhether or not we shouldn't turn the dial back the other way and buy a bit moreand lay off a bit of risk," he said.

Watsonalso noted that Argo Group has little exposure to the wave of bankruptcies andclosures in the coalmining industry, but layoffs at mining companies present risk toits workers' compensation premiums. Rockwood Casualty Insurance Co., the Argo Group subsidiarythat covers mining, has been moving away from underwriting coal businesses, hesaid.

"It'lljust require us to continue transitioning away from a declining market, and ofcourse depending upon what White House administration we have next year, thatmay change things even more quickly," he said.