U.S. property catastrophe reinsurance rates rise up to 50% on July 1-report

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. property catastrophe reinsurance rates rose by as much as 50% at a key July 1 renewal date, broker Gallagher Re said in a report on Monday, with states such as California and Florida increasingly hit by wildfires and hurricanes.

Reinsurers insure insurance companies, and have been raising rates in recent years because of steepening losses, which industry players put down in part to the impact of climate change. Higher reinsurance rates can affect the premiums which insurers charge to their customers.

U.S. reinsurance rates for policies which previously faced claims for natural catastrophes rose 30-50%, Gallagher Re said.

Reinsurance rates for similar policies in Florida rose 30-40%, the broker added.

Some insurance firms have pulled out because of the risk of heavy losses. State Farm said in May it would stop selling new insurance policies to homeowners in California.

In Florida, "all the major carriers (insurers) left and so you ended up with this market which is populated by a large number of very small, very thinly capitalised insurers which is exactly what you don't want," James Vickers, chairman international, reinsurance, at Gallagher Re told Reuters.

Reinsurers are raising the amounts which insurers have to pay themselves before reinsurance kicks in, Vickers added.

Risk modeling firm RMS said in a note last week that this year's hurricane season was likely to be "near normal". But the firm pointed out that last year's near-normal hurricane season included Hurricane Ian, expected to be one of the costliest U.S. hurricanes on record.

Reinsurance rate increases for U.S. and Florida property catastrophe policies averaged 25-35% at July renewals, broker Aon said in a note last week.

Reinsurance rates for some types of aviation war policies rose by up to 100% on the July 1 renewal date, Gallagher Re said.

Industry players point to ongoing liability claims following two Boeing 737 MAX crashes, legal battles over planes stuck in Russia and the destruction this year of aircraft at Khartoum airport as contributing to higher aviation war rates.

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn in London and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru, Editing by Louise Heavens)