But the company said the news has to be tempered by the fact the extent that hardening insurance market conditions diminish into 2013, it would expect less overall utilisation of capital market reinsurance alternatives than recent experience in 2011/2012.
The report said it views “the growth and acceptance of alternative reinsurance as a mixed benefit to reinsurers”.
Favorably, it represents an option to manage reinsurers' exposure and capital and serves as a source of fee income. Negatively, it represents competition for traditional reinsurers that, in conjunction with the strong overall capitalization of the reinsurance industry, has worked to notably dampen reinsurance pricing momentum in 2012.
Fitch believes that the comparatively high potential returns of catastrophe bonds and sidecar investments, and the lack of correlation between catastrophe losses and returns on other major asset classes should continue to contribute to strong demand from certain investors, including hedge funds, private equity, and institutional investors.
Convergence of the reinsurance market and capital market through cat bonds continues as 2012 is likely to have the highest total dollar amount of issuances since the prior record year of 2007. However, Fitch believes that several structural issues inherent in the market will likely keep cat bonds as a niche asset class in the near term, supporting $5 billion-$8 billion of annual volume and up to $20 billion of outstanding issuances.
Over the last decade the sidecar vehicle has emerged as a more efficient and flexible preferred option to traditional start-up (re)insurers. This is especially the case for the retrocessional property catastrophe market, where near-term pricing opportunities can be very advantageous post-catastrophe event, but also short lived.
Fitch also notes that most of the recent start-up reinsurers were created and funded by several well-known hedge fund managers seeking a more long-term asset management vehicle. Fitch believes that the long-term future of this approach ultimately depends on its relative success over the entire market cycle.