The past few years have not been good for reinsurers as a soft market, weak investment returns, lukewarm investor interest and sluggish consolidation activity have squeezed bottom lines, notes A.M. Best in its “Global Reinsurance Market Review” report.

Moreover, the favorable loss-reserve development that bolstered underwriting performance in 2010 is unlikely to be duplicated in 2011. Indeed, catastrophe losses–estimated as high as $60 billion for the first half of 2011–have diminished last January’s robust capital position. A glimmer of hope for the market is the possible improvement in pricing for property catastrophe business at January renewals, A.M. Best said. Gross premiums written also have remained fairly flat year over year.

As A.M. Best ranked the world’s largest reinsurers based on gross premiums written it found that there was relatively minor movement among the ranks in 2010. Within the top 10, Munich Re and Swiss Re reported the highest life and non-life gross written premiums—$31.3 billion and $24.8 billion, respectively. A.M. Best noted that Berkshire Hathaway has “moved against the tide of flat top-line performance for its peer group.” In 2010, it completed two large reinsurance deals, a large retroactive reinsurance deal with CNA and a life reinsurance deal with Swiss Re Life & Health America. These deals amounted to more than $4 billion in revenue. Berkshire Hathaway also has continued to participate on a 20% quota share with Swiss Re relative to property/casualty classes of business.

 

The full list ranked by gross premiums written in 2010 is as follows (U.S. millions):

1. Munich Reinsurance Company—$31,280

2. Swiss Reinsurance Company Limited—24,756

3. Hannover Rueckversicherung AG—15,147

4. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. —14,374

5. Lloyd’s—12,977

6. SCOR S.E. — 8,872

7. Reinsurance Group of America Inc. — 7,201

8. Allianz S.E. — 5,736

9. PartnerRe Ltd.— 4,881

10. Everest Re Group Ltd. —4,201

11. Transatlantic Holdings Inc. —4,133

12. Korean Reinsurance Company —4,114

13. China Reinsurance (Group) Corporation —3,796

14. London Reinsurance Group Inc. —3,266

15. MAPFRE RE, Compania de Reaseguros, S.A. —3,143

16. General Insurance Corporation of India —2,573

17. Assicurazioni Generali SpA —2,463

18. AEGON N.V. —2,391

19. QBE Insurance Group Limited —2,280

20. XL Group plc—2,255

21. MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc.—2,206

22. The Toa Reinsurance Company Limited—2,021

23. Axis Capital Holdings Limited—1,834

24. Caisse Centrale de Reassurance—1,814

25. Odyssey Re Holdings Corp.—1,625

26. Tokio Marine Holdings Inc.—1,466

27. Catlin Group Limited—1,290

28. RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd.—1,165

29. Aspen Insurance Holdings Limited—1,162

30. ACE Limited—1,146

31. Validus Holdings Ltd.—1,101

32. Flagstone Reinsurance aHoldings Limited—1,098

33. White Mountains Insurance Group, Ltd.—1,079

34. Amlin plc—1,004

35. Manulife Financial Corporation—972

36. American Agricultural Insurance Company—941

37. Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd.—941

38. Alterra Capital Holdings Ltd.—892

39. Arch Capital Group Ltd.—875

40. IRB - Brasil Resseguros S.A.—780

41. Platinum Underwriters Holdings Ltd.—780

42. ACR Capital Holdings Pte, Ltd.—752

43. Montpelier Re Holdings Ltd.—720

44. NKSJ Holdings Inc.—690

45. Ariel Holdings Ltd.—644

46. Sun Life Financial Inc.—554

47. Maiden Holdings Ltd.—554

48. Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, AG—524

49. Central Reinsurance Corporation—457

50. W. R. Berkley Corporation—425

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Corrected September 6, 2011 at 12:36PM: yes