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Four questions for the class of 2005

Dear Friend,

Maybe I’m just repeating an incumbent player’s fantasy — but who’d want to be a class of 2005 player trying to make a living in today’s market?

People only seem to want you to write stressed business in the Gulf of Mexico . Of course, Gulf of Mexico business is looking great on paper, with about half the cover being sold for at least double the price, but the weather forecast looks pretty rotten for next summer.

The sea hasn’t begun to cool down — and there was even a tropical disturbance (one notch below a depression) down in the Caribbean last week. At this rate a full-blown hurricane in May wouldn’t surprise anyone. And if the big wind blows, no amount of wordings tightening is going to make any difference — a total loss is a total loss.

Lloyd’s US windstorm realistic disaster scenarios are going to be upgraded to $100bn insured loss events — that’s an eye-popping 42% increase from the previous $70bn. Where Lloyd’s leads, others tend to follow — if the new number became an industry consensus, what would that do to your projected rate of return?

And that guy from the ratings agency is coming next week — how happy is he going with the shape of your book as it stands? How long is he going to give you to diversify before asking you to raise more capital?

And if you need to raise more capital what are you going to tell your investors?

I’m heading off to Bermuda for the World Insurance Forum in a few week’s time — maybe I’ll get to ask my big questions then.

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