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Highlights on Reinsurance History

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Edited By André Straus and Leonardo Caruana de las Cagigas

    Despite being one of the main pillars of the insurance industry, reinsurance is little known by the general public and is rarely the focus of academic study. In this book, the authors – economic historians and experts in the field from across Europe and Japan – seek to address this by shedding light on one of the most globalized of all economic activities. In a clear and engaging manner, they reveal the history of reinsurance in both national and international contexts, aiming to illuminate this vital, but often overlooked, aspect of insurance.

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    From Actuaries to Scientific Research (Christopher Kopper)

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    From Actuaries to Scientific Research

    The Evolution of Risk Assessments at the Munich Re

    Christopher Kopper

    Already before World War I and during the first 30 years after its establishment in 1880, Munich Re became world biggest reinsurance company and gained a global range encompassing Europe and North America. In 1895, the premium income from the Russian insurance market (2.7 million mark) even exceeded the income from the home market in Germany (2.5 million RM)1. The management of Munich Re decided to engage in Russia after they had gained a favorable impression of how the Russian primary insurers were managed. But confidence in the managerial abilities of their foreign counterparts was not everything. In the fire insurance branch, Munich Re had to accept different risk structures than in western and central European cities. The centers of many Russian cities except St. Petersburg and Moscow were still dominated by wooden houses that generated high fire risks. As a consequence of frequent town fires, British insurances had retreated from the Russian fire insurance market.

    Many files of Munich Re were destroyed after World War II because of storage problems and as a consequence of ignorance and indifference. Therefore, Munich Re’s risk assessment strategy of this time is difficult to reconstruct. The first strategy was monitoring the underwriting habits of direct insurers. Munich Re’s senior managers traveled to Russia regularly and examined the underwriting principles of their Russian clients. The second strategy was based...

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