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'Asymmetric' renewals; Argo strikes deal with Voce; IAG boosts reinsurance


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'Asymmetric' renewals; Argo strikes deal with Voce; IAG boosts reinsurance

Guy Carpenter & Co. LLC's global property-catastrophe rate on line index rose by 5% at the Jan. 1 renewals, based on preliminary calculations. Like Willis Re, Guy Carpenter said it witnessed an "asymmetrical market" at the Jan. 1, 2020, renewals, shaped by "deteriorating loss experience, a lack of new capital inflows and increasingly challenged environments in the primary insurance and retrocession markets."

Rates on line for non-marine retrocessional reinsurance contracts increased between 20% and 40% in the renewal season, with the segment experiencing significant volatility, Artemis reported, citing Hyperion X data.

Insurance Australia Group Ltd. increased its gross reinsurance protection to up to A$10 billion for 2020 from A$9 billion in 2019.

And, the National Flood Insurance Program's 2020 traditional reinsurance placement has been made, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency transferring an additional $1.33 billion of the program's financial risk to the private reinsurance market. The reinsurance covers portions of losses of more than $4 billion arising from a single flood event.

U.K. insurers will resist attempts to expand the remit of the country's government-backed flood reinsurer, the director general of the Association of British Insurers said.

Argo Group International Holdings Ltd. entered into a cooperation agreement with activist investor Voce Capital Management LLC to change the composition of the insurer's board. Carol McFate will join the board, subject to regulatory approval and completion of due diligence. She will succeed Mark Watson, Argo's former CEO, as a director.

First American Financial Corp. fully acquired Title Security Agency LLC, which becomes part of the direct operations of unit First American Title Insurance Co.

In other deals, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. acquired Walsdorf Agency Inc., a Huntington, N.Y.-based commercial and personal lines insurance agency. Two key states have signed off on a proposal for J&A Alliance Trust to acquire beneficial ownership of approximately 7% of Aflac Inc.'s common shares. Tower Insurance Ltd. completed its purchase of Youi NZ Pty Ltd.'s insurance portfolio. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Inc. acquired Steward Health Choice Arizona Inc. after securing all regulatory approvals.

Health Insurance Innovations Inc. signed an agreement with Washington's insurance commissioner to settle an investigation into the company, and will pay the state $1.5 million. The settlement was concluded Dec. 31, 2019.

Church Mutual Insurance Co. completed the conversion of its corporate structure to a mutual holding company, effective Jan. 1.

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In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Australian fires force bank branch closures; Korean digital bank stops lending

Europe: Credit Suisse launches new CHF1.5B share buyback; HSBC hit by Hong Kong protests

Middle East & Africa: Equity, Atlas Mara still in talks over deal; Nigerian banks could be fined

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng declined 0.32% to 28,451.50.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.46% to 7,569.23, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.66% to 1,150.59.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

On the macro front

The motor vehicles sales report, the ISG Manufacturing Index, the construction spending report, the EIA Natural Gas Report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count report are due out today.

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