24 Nov 2008

Insurance premiums likely to increase with financial crisis

9:08 am on 24 November 2008

Two insurance heavyweights will be increasing premiums to combat the turmoil in financial markets.

Insurance companies use investment portfolios to offset any losses in their underwriting businesses, and the financial market turmoil means they cannot rely on investment gains in the year ahead.

Vero Insurance chief executive Roger Bell said it is a tricky balance for insurance companies to manage customers' expectations and their own profit.

He said the cost of reinsurance has gone up around the world because the cost of capital has risen, which is likely to drive higher premium increases.

Insurer and fund manager Tower expects to increase premiums over the next six months, as the cost of repairing buildings has risen.

Chief executive Rob Flannagan said more people want to protect their assets during a recession, but he does not expect that to drive up growth in policy holder numbers.

He said consumers face many financial pressures so the company is not expecting massive growth.