The average return of the insurance-linked securities (ILS) fund market was dented in October 2020 by some selling pressure on certain aggregate catastrophe bond positions and reserve setting for potential losses to catastrophe reinsurance programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Catastrophe bond funds have faced pressure on positions in May thanks largely to increasing cat bond spreads, as the secondary market responded to primary issuance premiums, as well as high levels of liquidity that can impact values of positions.
Currently, the insurance-linked securities (ILS) and broader reinsurance market environment provides long-term investors with a good entry point into the catastrophe bond market, according to Florian Steiger, a portfolio manager at Twelve Capital.
Despite an overall slower level of issuance of non-life catastrophe bonds in the first-quarter of this year, broker Willis Re notes that yields are on the rise as investors and ILS funds demand higher returns after recent losses.
A number of at-risk of loss catastrophe bonds have been traded at rock-bottom distressed prices, suggesting investors have sought to offload bonds they believe will face a total loss, while a buyer (perhaps a single investor) is willing to bet there could be some improvement in the outlook.
The recent selling off of catastrophe bonds, which has largely provided a mechanism for ILS fund managers to free up capital to put towards renewal deals, has resulted in much higher secondary market trading volumes but this has added mark-to-market price pressure and as a result dented total returns.
Secondary market catastrophe bond price recovery helped the average return of insurance-linked securities (ILS) and reinsurance linked investment funds was 0.56% for January 2018, the highest January performance for a number of years, according to the ILS Advisers Index.
The catastrophe bond market has continued to trade through the recent losses, with activity in the secondary market relatively brisk in October 2017 and signs beginning to emerge that pricing uncertainty is gradually coming off, which combined with new issuance should help to stimulate more liquidity over the coming months.
Catastrophe bond fund managers have adjusted upwards their expectations of yields for their cat bond funds, both in terms of the anticipated yield to maturity and the future yields as they begin to communicate an expectation of a hard(er) reinsurance market going forwards.
The insurance-linked securities (ILS) and reinsurance market are set to be characterised by losses in 2017, with specialist consultancy Lane Financial LLC saying that “negative returns will be the order of the day in 2017,” but that the impact to the market will be muted by excess capacity.