Insuring Brazil

Everyone seems to be excited about Brazil, and where there’s economic growth, there’s more to insure. According to speakers at an ACE Group client briefing at Lloyd’s, which I covered for Strategic Risk magazine earlier this month, massive government investment and a fast-maturing insurance industry mean great opportunities for foreign companies. The Brazilian insurance industry almost quadrupled in value over the last 10 years to reach US$49.65m in 2009, with even more staggering growth of 409% in the life and pensions sector. Audience members were worried about state intervention in business following the election of  former Marxist guerrilla Dilma Rousseff as the country’s first female president. But Rear Admiral Chris Parry, a strategic forecasting specialist, reassured them: “The Brazilian government knows it’s got to show a level of fiscal responsibility and political predictability, or it will be lumped in with the other South American countries…You won’t see nationalisation, but you may see the odd demonstration of state power to show they can do something if the electorate wants them to.” He also encouraged them to look elsewhere in South America – Costa Rica and Chile are both good bets apparently.

Good news for the ambulance chasers

Before Lord Young of Graffham became infamous as the Tory Peer who thinks we’ve “never had it so good” and that the recession doesn’t exist, he wrote a rather more sensible report about the compensation culture, warmly welcomed by insurers and, in happier times, David Cameron. I assessed the chances of his recommendations becoming law for Insurance Times. Back then, the fact that he’d been invited to stay on and implement them was a hopeful sign. So now what’s going to happen?

“There’s no question: this would be disastrous”

Depending on where you’re standing, legal expenses insurers are either bloodsucking ambulance-chasers hiking up premiums for everyone, or fearless defenders of justice for all, providing a much-needed service. One thing is certain: if Lord Justice Jackson’s recommendations for reforming the compensation market are implemented in full, their days are numbered. As the government’s verdict looms, I assessed their chances of survival.

Big brokers do cry

We all knew the FSA was on a mission following the scalding criticism it received over the banking crisis. But now, as its inspectors storm the corridors of the fastest-growing insurance brokers, firms are fuming over greater demands for information and stricter deadlines. As only the largest 5% of brokers receive these intensive site visits, they complain that the FSA is creating a two-tier market where smaller firms get away with light-touch regulation at a distance. In this piece for Insurance Times, I asked whether these bigger brokers are under unfair pressure – or whether they should just deal with it and stop moaning.