Reinsurers Face Insolvency Risk As Analysts Fear Dorian's Insured Losses Could Top $40 Billion

Insurances companies could be in serious trouble now that Hurricane Dorian has spent a full day dragging across the Bahamas, according to a team of analysts at UBS. After battering the Caribbean island nation with gusts of up to 220 mph, the unprecedented Category 5 storm looks to be one of the most damaging storms in recent memory.

Now that Dorian has officially cemented its position as the second-strongest storm to form in the Atlantic in modern history, UBS analysts have updated their models to reflect a broader swath of losses. It's now believed the storm could cause total insured losses in the range of $5 billion to $40 billion, with a 'base case' of $25 billion, up from $15 billion a few days ago.

This could put solvency capital at risk for some firms, the team of analysts said, according to Sputnik.

The analysts estimate the 2019 hurricane season could cause about $70 billion of natural catastrophe losses, which could erode excess capital and lead to higher premiums.

Though they got some relief last year, insurers faced record bills from hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires in 2017, as Hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Irma hammered Puerto Rico and the Continental US...

...and wildfires in California led to the most destructive season on record.

Of the big reinsurance names, UBS named Swiss Re as its least preferred stock to hold during the 2019 hurricane season, adding that a second buyback was unlikely. Meanwhile, Lancashire, Beazley and SCOR were set to see the biggest gains from an increase in premiums across the industry.

Mandatory evacuation orders are expected to be issued in several counties in Florida, as well as the Carolinas, later Monday evening. Dorian's eye had finally reached Great Bahama, though officials warned residents who had opted to remain in the area to remain wary. Even under the eye, meteorologists still expect wind speeds of around 165 mph.

Fortunately, as of Monday morning, a 'direct' hit in Florida was seen as less likely, thought it's impossible to say with any degree of certainty how the storm will make landfall in the US.