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JIF Panel Gives Industry High Performance Marks During Financial Crisis

Source: Business Insurance

Posted on 14 Jan 2009

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This year's participants at the Property/Casualty Insurance Joint Industry Forum iterated that the P/C industry performed well during the current financial crisis. The event took place on Tuesday in New York.

Charles Kavitsky, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Allianz of America Corp. in Novato, Calif., said during a CEO panel that despite the industry facing a "double whammy" of natural catastrophe losses and the financial crisis in 2008, "I think the industry did great."

Participants in another panel of industry experts offered similar views. "The property/casualty industry actually did quite well last year on a relative basis," said Vincent J. Dowling, managing partner of Farmington, CT-based Dowling & Partners Securities L.L.C. "The industry…on a relative basis comes out with its model unbroken."

Michael S. Pritula, a director at McKinsey & Co. in New York, agreed, saying that recent turmoil in other areas of the financial services industry such as life insurance, wholesale and retail banking and the securities industry make the P/C industry appear "a relative isle of calm."

Pierre L. Ozendo, chairman and CEO of Swiss Re America Corp. in Armonk, N.Y., and a member of the executive board of Swiss Re Group, credited the property/casualty industry's resilience to its conservative risk management and the fact that the industry "is focused on a business model that has been proven over hundreds of years and continues to be proven today."

But, while agreeing with others' assessments of the P/C industry's recent performance, Michael S. McGavick, CEO of XL Capital Ltd. in Hamilton, Bermuda, cautioned those in the industry "whose eyes might occasionally wander" from the proven P/C business model to other riskier financial operations.

"The problems that we're working through at XL are a consequence of that wandering eye," Mr. McGavick said.

The annual Joint Industry Forum is sponsored by a group of 16 industry organizations.