Guernsey's annual Champagne Reception in Monte Carlo plants the island's insurance industry firmly in the centre of key discussions during Les Rendez-Vous de Septembre, the equivalent of Davos for the insurance industry. For 65 years Monaco has hosted the annual get together in Monte Carlo for all the major players in the global reinsurance and insurance market. The week also marks the beginning of the annual negotiation process prior to the renewal of reinsurance treaties, traditionally happening upon 31/12 or 1st January, which dictates pricing for protection from national catastrophes to personal lines of motor and household insurance.
Here, Paul Sykes, Chair of the Guernsey International Business Association and Managing Director of Aon Guernsey, shares his reflections on this year's trip.
To be at the heart of Les Rendez Vous de September during its 65th anniversary, surrounded by the elite of the insurance industry, as they zip around sun-soaked Monte Carlo to literally dozens of 30-minute meetings, topped off by dinners and receptions, is always a privilege. This year we were treated to an address by Monaco's Prince Albert II, who spoke passionately about the environment and sustainability - themes that resonated with the Guernsey delegation coming ahead of Sustainable Finance Week in Guernsey.
There is always an incredible energy and intensity to the Rendez-Vous, which this year showed no signs of abating. Over 4,000 stakeholders in the global insurance and reinsurance industry, from 155 countries and insurance centres, gathered in Monte Carlo for what proved to be another year of pivotal discussions.
Guernsey's Champagne Reception has become a vibrant staple of the annual Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous experience, with almost 200 attendees gathering at the exquisite Hotel Hermitage, including the event's keynote speaker and Founder of Replexus, Cedric Edmonds.
Cedric is an industry pioneer with over a decade of experience with Guernsey's service providers. His appreciation for the quality and receptiveness of Guernsey's finance sector became abundantly clear in his keynote speech. Cedric highlighted the can-do attitude of the regulator, and the innovative approach of TISE, the Guernsey-headquartered The International Stock Exchange to list blockchain-settled securities, something which had never been done before.
With a history of successful groundbreaking transactions, including the Lloyd's Central Fund cover in 2021, discussions turned to Guernsey's most recent success story, protecting the International Red Cross' Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF). The provision of this new risk transfer mechanism will allow the Red Cross to potentially reach an additional six million vulnerable people each year.
In another watershed moment for the reinsurance industry, this marks the first time an indemnity-based reinsurance model has been developed specifically within a humanitarian disaster risk finance context.
Aside from Guernsey's triumphs, other headlines stemming from this year's event surrounded a debate about the duration of the current 'hard market' which has seen successive years of price (premium) increases. Insurers highlighted that expected losses from natural catastrophes exceed $100 billion annually as the new normal. Consequently, investors in the sector have seen modest if any returns from the sector since 2016 although 2023 was looking more promising. Accordingly, brokers will advocate for price reductions for their clients.
In the face of this volatility, or perhaps because of it, the industry continues to evolve, and Guernsey continues to thrive. Guernsey has ascended to become the largest domicile for captive insurance in Europe at the same time as pioneering protection for Lloyds, the Red Cross and other clients. It has played a key role in filling protection gaps to meet corporate and humanitarian needs.
Guernsey continues to offer a compelling mixture of professional expertise, responsible regulators, and innovative vehicles, earning its place at the top table of the insurance industry in Monte Carlo.
For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit www.weareguernsey.com.
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