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Snowball says insurers have learned lessons of last crash

Towergate Financial chairman Patrick Snowball is confident that the insurance industry can ride out the banking crisis after learning lessons from the last market downturn.

In an interview with Money Marketing, the former Aviva UK group executive director says the FSA and insurers are in much better shape after learning from previous falls.

Snowball says: “The Government, the regulator and the International Accounting Standards Board have all very much learned the lessons of 2002 to 2003 in terms of solvency and selling down equities. They are being a lot more realistic in their expectations.

“Then the downturn and the economic pressure was led by pressure on the insurance industry. So far, that has not been the case. If you look at the insurance companies in this country, they are still reporting big surpluses of capital, even at this level, and giving indications of what the surplus would be even if the FTSE went down another 400 points.”

In response to the recent Dutch government support for Aegon, Snowball quest- ions the effect of state help on competition.

He says: “You saw with Northern Rock that once it was underwritten by the Government, it had an unfair competitive advantage against the rest of the market. What does that do to the competitive landscape?”

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