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Fitch: Bermuda insurers, reinsurers should see rate increases continue in 2020

After returning to underwriting profit in 2018, Bermuda insurers and reinsurers are expected to see earnings improve for full-year 2019, according to Fitch Ratings.

The 22 Bermuda-based companies that the rating agency sampled posted a combined ratio of 99% for 2018, down sharply from 108% in 2017. Net income only improved "moderately," however, due to "significant realized losses on investment" due to the performance of equity markets in 2018.

Earnings should strengthen this year, with pricing trends shifting "across the market" and catastrophe losses through the first nine months coming in at historically average levels, Fitch analyst Ryan Ostrowski said. Rate increases this year look to be sustainable in 2020, according to the rating agency.

Fitch said Bermuda companies have strong capital positions with operating and net leverage at 0.5x and 2.4x, respectively, in 2018. Capital management should stay conservative, but with net premium allocation moving toward U.S. affiliates at some companies, there may be corresponding capital reallocation in the future, the rating agency added.