UCL News


Press cutting: Underwriters face a storm of protest

28 November 2006

Pretty much every year, we hear the same old moan.

"Underwriters have hit a stalemate with their clients about reinsurance premiums" and "this year's all-important renewal season will be the latest on record". …

With massive premium hikes following last year's unprecedented hurricane season, and few tropical storms this year, underwriters know they are on the way to posting enviable figures. …

There is always a minuscule risk that a freak storm could yet blow profits off course, but with the hurricane season traditionally running from the start of June until the end of November, it looks certain that underwriters are well and truly on the home run.

Mark Saunders, professor of climate prediction in UCL Space & Climate Physics, explains just how kind 2006 has been to the underwriters.

"This year ranks as the 22nd quietest hurricane season since 1950 for Atlantic basin activity and the 16th quietest since 1950 for US landfall activity. It is the quietest season since 2002," he comments.

"To date there have been nine tropical storms in the Atlantic basin as a whole with five of these being hurricanes and two of these intense hurricanes. Activity has been below average, compared with long-term averages of 10 tropical storms, six hurricanes and three intense hurricanes a year." …

Professor Saunders, who is also head of weather and climate extremes at the Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre, puts the calmer season down to factors such as the presence of considerable African dry air and Saharan dust during August and September. "This would have inhibited thunderstorm occurrence and thus tropical storm development," he explains. …

Yvette Essen, 'The Daily Telegraph'