Inquirers back off one step short of the Supercat Issuers
The arrival of Erin Brokovich (pictured) in Christchurch and her call for those at the wrong end of insurance compensation to “speak up” about the injustice of it all is a further reminder of the obscure role in the earthquake aftermath of the global re-insurers.
Among the most powerful forces force in reinsurance is Berkshire Hathaway. It is considered within the industry to be the leader in supercats which is the category of reinsurance involved in major disasters such as the Christchurch earthquake.
Berkshire Hathaway sells sell policies that insurance and reinsurance companies purchase in order to limit their losses when mega-catastrophes strike.
The company is therefore the major reinsurer of reinsurers.
Though Mr Buffett in New Zealand is frequently the subject of admiring, some might say, adulatory, media coverage the matter of his involvement in these supercats is ignored out of either ignorance or out of fear. Or both.
The matter has similarly been too complex for politicians to contemplate at least openly.
Hurricanes and earthquakes are the two primary factors in the probabilities of supercats.
It is said that Mr Buffett’s supercat exposure can weather at any given time the eventuality of the calculable risk of up to four such eventualities.
Supercat insurance shares with the rest of the insurance sector one quite literally priceless advantage. Payments are received prior to the issue of the policy. In other words, cash up front.
This payment-in-advance gives the industry its cash float which in the case of the supercat sector is immense.
Therefore the following questions need to be asked:-
1. Who are the Christchurch reinsurers?
2. Who reinsures them?
3. Are the ultimate reinsurers solvent?
4. If so why are they not compensating the Christchurch home owners?
Instead the various debates have circled around the role of the primary insurers, the known insurers.
Erin Brokovich, formerly a California legal clerk, and the centrepiece of the eponymous film that starred Julia Roberts is roving ambassador for an Australian-based legal compensation practice.
As an environmental advocate she transcends the routine geomantic abstract preoccupation with global warming/carbon levels and by her presence fixes it upon the unpleasantness of ordinary people in the face of ambitions of big business.
Can Miss Brokovich now force into the light the identities of the entity or entities that hold the supercats over Christchurch and who decline to pay out on them?
| FRom The MSCNewsWire reporters' desk || Tuesday 11 April 2017 |||