A Rendez-vous on the Riviera
Mon 10 Sep 2012
The annual insurance industry conference opens in Monaco.
It’s a place synonymous with motor racing, sun tanning and fine dining; and once a year Monte Carlo plays host to an important event in the insurance calendar.
The annual Monte Carlo Rendez-vous has welcomed insurance professionals from across the globe for more than 50 years. This year, more than 2,600 delegates from over 80 countries are expected to descend on the famous coastal principality along the French Riviera to discuss the latest trends affecting the world reinsurance market.
Launched in 1957, the event was the brainchild of a small group of insurers led by Andre Roux, President of Assurances Générales. Its key aim then - as it is now - was to enable key players in the reinsurance market to meet and exchange information.
So why Monte Carlo? Aside from the agreeable climate there are several reasons it was chosen as the conference location. Monaco, the second smallest independent state in the world, had no local insurance company and was therefore perceived as ‘neutral’ in terms of insurance.
Organisers of the first Rendez-vous were also attracted by its intimate setting (allowing delegates to walk with ease to most appointments from their accommodation), and - later - its proximity to Nice International Airport. And it seems the citizens of Monte Carlo are more than happy to play host to the annual gathering - so much so that in 1986 a stamp was produced to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
More recently, topics of discussion at ‘Monte’ have very much been influenced by the major global events that have occurred at that time - or lack thereof. Writing for Lloyd’s, insurance blogger Garry Booth suggested there are two types of Rendez-vous:
“There’s the type that coincides with a big loss event, such as 9/11 or Katrina, or a financial crisis like the fall of Lehman. In those years, the atmosphere around the hotel lobbies and cocktail parties is charged by the possible implications of the cataclysm that just took place.
“Then there is the other kind of Monte Carlo: Where people become anxious believing things are so good that something must come along soon and change it all. For reinsurers it means they should be basking in the glow of good results but they’re actually fretting about what form the next event will take - and when it will happen.”
This year’s Monte Carlo comes after a relatively benign first six months, but at a time when the industry is still absorbing the major natural catastrophe events of 2011, which demonstrated the value of reinsurance.
Recent data from the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR) showed that global reinsurers covered 96% of the reinsurance cost of the 2011 events in New Zealand earthquake, Australian and Thai floods and Japanese earthquake and Tsunami. This is a clear demonstration of how global capital flows can work to assist regions hit by disaster, spreading the financial impact of an event.
So what’s in store for 2012? Well, this year's conference debate is titled "Capital management and allocation of capacity to face the demand for insurance and reinsurance" and is led by Denis Kessler, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Scor. There will also be a strong Lloyd’s presence, with Chairman John Nelson hosting a cocktail reception on behalf of the London market on the 10 September. Joining him at the event will be Richard Ward, CEO of Lloyd's and Tom Bolt, Director of Performance Management.