Tuesday, September 16, 2014 11:31pm
North Adams, MA now: 48 °   
Send news, tips, press releases and questions to info@iBerkshires.com
The Berkshires online guide to events, news and Berkshire County community information.
SIGN IN | REGISTER NOW   

Home About Archives RSS Feed
The Independent Investor: Who Pays for Japan?
By: By Bill Schmick On: 09:02AM / Friday March 25, 2011
Important
0
Interesting
0
Funny
0
Awesome
0
Infuriating
0
Ridiculous
0

It appears that the ongoing disaster in Japan will not end up on the doorstep of the world’s insurance industry. Total damage estimates now range from $200 to $300 billion but insurers will “only” be saddled with 10 to 20 percent of those costs. That still makes it one of the costliest disasters in the history of the insurance sector and there are some nagging details that could cost them even more.

Considering the spate of natural disasters so far this year (New Zealand’s earthquake and Australia’s flooding), not to mention the wave of calamities since 2004, Hurricane Katrina, erupting volcanoes in Iceland, earthquakes in Chile and Haiti – it is a wonder the insurance industry is still around to pay anyone.

The earthquake claims alone (excluding the tsunami and radiation damage) against reinsurers (insurance companies who insure insurance companies) are estimated to run as high as $35 billion. This just may further deplete an industry whose capital is dwindling daily and just about guarantees a first quarter loss for most companies in that industry with exposure to Japan.

Big reinsurance companies are starting to total up their exposure. Swiss Re says they face $1.2 billion in claims, while AIG allows for at least $700 million. Munich Re and Hannover Re, two large European insurers, aren’t ready to guess and the French reinsurer, Scor SE, believes its losses will total no more than $262 million. Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. also has some exposure through its reinsurance companies, but has not yet released estimates.

One reason the big insurers have escaped the majority of catastrophe claims is the insular nature of the Japanese. Unlike most countries, the Japanese prefer to insure their own property and businesses against catastrophes and other risks. Unfortunately, analysts believe that Japan historically has tended to under-insure most of its productive assets such as auto factories, semiconductor plants, consumer manufacturers, farm land and everything in between.

Nuclear risks like the present fallout from the Fukushima plant tend not to be insured by private companies. The quasi-government-owned Japan Earthquake Reinsurance Company will most likely bear the brunt of those losses (although this government agency might only insure half of the losses or less).

Actually, few if any insurance companies worldwide will insure against a nuclear accident, which makes the ongoing concern over the Indian Point nuclear unit in New York that much more serious. The reactor sits atop a fault line, that if worst came to worst could conceivably expose radiation to 6 percent of the nation’s population and a comparable amount of this nation’s assets.

Of far more serious concern to the insurance industry are supply chain disruptions that are occurring, and will continue to occur thanks to the devastation in Japan. The prospects of long-term supply disruptions are highly probable as Northern Japan’s factories have been shut down by limited power supply and are failing to produce and ship parts and products that are essential to high tech, electronic, auto and other industries worldwide. By some estimates, Korea, for example, depends on Japanese parts for 23 percent of its finished products.

On Thursday, for example, Toyota told its plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico to prepare for a possible shutdown due to the lack of parts availability. General Motors has already stopped production of a truck plant in Louisiana and a related engine plant in New York.

Business interruption coverage is a routine insurance product which insures a business against just such an interruption. Just about every business worth its salt has such a policy or policies. While a business’s supply chain  generally has a few weeks of safety stock supplies, there isn’t a lot of time for companies to find new suppliers, shift production or try to make spot purchases before they run out of parts. Costs skyrocket as several companies in the same line compete for scarce parts.

Possible shortages of Japanese-made components can significantly impact profits across the globe as businesses fail to deliver products to market on time. You can be sure that some insurance company somewhere will be on the hook to make up for that cost of lost production. It is this supply chain problem that has the managements of insurance companies staying awake at night.

The insurance industry is keeping mum about this potential problem. I can understand their reticence, but until we get all the facts I would not go bottom fishing in that sector.

Bill Schmick is an independent investor with Berkshire Money Management. (See "About" for more information.) None of the information presented in any of these articles is intended to be and should not be construed as an endorsement of BMM or a solicitation to become a client of BMM. The reader should not assume that any strategies, or specific investments discussed are employed, bought, sold or held by BMM. Direct your inquiries to Bill at 1-888-232-6072 (toll free) or e-mail him at wschmick@fairpoint.net. Visit www.afewdollarsmore.com for more of Bill's insights.



0 Comments
Tags: Japan, insurance      
News Headlines
Volunteers Sought for Humanitarian Mapping Projects
North Adams Cab Company Plans to Relocate
Pro Hockey Team to Hold Reception, Waiting on State's Blessing
North Adams School Project on Track, Under Budget
Developer Details Plans for Former Adams Mill
Pittsfield Historical Commission Invites Input on St. Mary's Demolition
Pittsfield Prepping For New School Costs Estimates
Williams Senior Harrier Wins National Honor
Williamstown's Friendship Club Raises Funds for Outings
Williams College Football Looks to Bounce Back
Bill Schmick is registered as an investment advisor representative and portfolio manager with Berkshire Money Management (BMM), managing over $200 million for investors in the Berkshires. Bill’s forecasts and opinions are purely his own and do not necessarily represent the views of BMM. None of his commentary is or should be considered investment advice. Anyone seeking individualized investment advice should contact a qualified investment adviser. None of the information presented in this article is intended to be and should not be construed as an endorsement of BMM or a solicitation to become a client of BMM. The reader should not assume that any strategies, or specific investments discussed are employed, bought, sold or held by BMM. Direct your inquiries to Bill at 1-888-232-6072 (toll free) or email him at Bill@afewdollarsmore.com Visit www.afewdollarsmore.com for more of Bill’s insights.

 

 

 



Categories:
@theMarket (144)
Independent Investor (196)
Archives:
September 2014 (3)
September 2013 (3)
August 2014 (7)
July 2014 (2)
June 2014 (6)
May 2014 (9)
April 2014 (8)
March 2014 (6)
February 2014 (6)
January 2014 (7)
December 2013 (8)
November 2013 (7)
October 2013 (6)
Tags:
Economy Banks Recession Metals Rally Debt Ceiling Energy Retirement Stocks Jobs Greece Fed Interest Rates Congress Markets Election Taxes Debt Japan Housing Oil Europe Europe Stimulus Stock Market Pullback Deficit Bailout Crisis Federal Reserve Euro Currency Commodities Fiscal Cliff Selloff
Popular Entries:
The Independent Investor: Understanding the Foreclosure Scandal
The Independent Investor: Don't Fight the Fed
The Independent Investor: Does Cash Mean Currencies?
@theMarket: QE II Supports the Markets
@theMarket: Markets Are Going Higher
The Independent Investor: General Motors — Back to the Future
The Independent Investor: How Will Wall Street II Play on Main Street?
The Independent Investor: Will the Municipal Bond Massacre Continue?
@theMarket: Economy Sputters, Stocks Stutter
The Independent Investor: Why Are Interest Rates Rising?
Recent Entries:
@theMarket: Waiting on the Fed
The Independent Investor: The United States of Scotland?
The Independent Investor: Europe Follows the U.S. lead
@theMarket: What's Up With Bonds?
The Independent Investor: Baby Boomers and Retirement
@theMarket: Labor on Their Mind
The Independent Investor: Financing ISIS
@theMarket: Geopolitical Risk Trumps Economic Growth
The Independent Investor: Beware the Russian Bear
The Independent Investor: Why Some Corporations Are Leaving America


View All
Volleyball: Lee vs Mount...
Lee 3, Mount Greylock 0, The visiting Wildcats won 25-23,...
Soccer: Mount Greylock vs...
Eric Hirsch scored twice and set up two goals to lead the...
Josh Billings RunAground 2014
The team from Pittsfield's Allen Heights Veterinary won the...
Football: Amherst vs Williams
Football: Amherst vs Williams in a scrimmage on Saturday...
Girls Soccer: Drury vs...
Taconic girls soccer team took a 3-2 win over Drury on...
Football: Wahconah vs...
The Wahconah Warriors tamed the Chicopee Colts 44-6 at home...
Football: Taconic vs...
The Taconic Braves ran over the Cathedral Panthers 20-8 at...
Youth Center Chair Reception...
Inspired seating was on display Saturday night in the...
Volleyball: Mount Greylock vs...
Mount Greylock bested Wahconah 3-2 on Wednesday night at...
Northern Berkshire Food Fest...
Hundreds flocked to Main Street on Sunday for the annual...
Williamstown Fun Run 2014
About 100 participants competed in the 5-kilometer and...
Soccer: Pittsfield vs Mt...
Friday night girl's soccer PHS wins over Mount Greylock...
Soccer: St. Joe s vs McCann...
McCann Tech defeated St. Joseph, 5-2, Wednesday afternoon...
Boys and Girls Cross Country
Lenox's girls went 3-0 on the afternoon, beating Hoosac,...
Soccer: Renaissance vs McCann
The McCann Tech girls soccer team lost to Renaissance, 2-1,...
Berkshire Trendsetter Awards...
The presenting of the fourth annual Berkshire Trendsetter...
Volleyball: Lee vs Mount...
Lee 3, Mount Greylock 0, The visiting Wildcats won 25-23,...
Soccer: Mount Greylock vs...
Eric Hirsch scored twice and set up two goals to lead the...
Josh Billings RunAground 2014
The team from Pittsfield's Allen Heights Veterinary won the...
Football: Amherst vs Williams
Football: Amherst vs Williams in a scrimmage on Saturday...
Girls Soccer: Drury vs...
Taconic girls soccer team took a 3-2 win over Drury on...
| Home | A & E | Business | Community News | Dining | Real Estate | Schools | Sports & Outdoors | Berkshires Weather | Weddings
Advertise | Recommend This Page | Help Contact Us | Privacy Policy| User Agreement
iBerkshires.com is owned and operated by: Boxcar Media 102 Main Street, North Adams, MA 01247 -- T. 413-663-3384 F.413-664-4251
© 2000 Boxcar Media LLC - All rights reserved