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Risk report

Principles for the handling of opportunities and risks

With a view to accomplishing our business objectives we enter into a broad variety of risks which, on the one hand, open up opportunities for profit but, on the other hand, can also have adverse implications for our company. Our goal is to make optimal use of opportunities while at the same time adequately controlling and managing the risks associated with our commercial activities. Crucial importance therefore attaches to the qualitative and quantitative elements of our risk management. The parameters and decisions of the Executive Board with respect to the risk appetite of Hannover Re are fundamental to the acceptance of risks. The risk strategy derived from the corporate strategy constitutes the basis for our handling of opportunities and risks. We act on opportunities only by weighing up the associated risks. The risk strategy and the guidelines derived from it, such as the framework guideline on risk management and the central system of limits and thresholds, are subject to regular review. In this way, we ensure that our assumptions and hence also our risk management system are kept up-to-date. Operationalisation of our corporate strategy takes place on multiple levels and ultimately leads into local guidelines, including for example the local underwriting guidelines used by our treaty departments.

Operationalisation of the risk strategy

Operationalisation of the risk strategy enlarge zoom

We manage our total risk such that we can expect to generate positive Group net income under IFRS with a probability of 90% and the likelihood of the complete loss of our economic equity and shareholders’ equity does not exceed 0.03% p.a. These indicators are monitored using our internal capital model. The necessary equity resources are determined according to the requirements of our economic capital model, solvency regulations, the expectations of rating agencies with respect to our target rating and the expectations of our clients and shareholders. Above and beyond that, we maintain an equity buffer in order to be able to act on business opportunities at any time. We manage the level of our shareholders’ equity in such a way that our targeted return of 750 basis points above the “risk-free” interest rate is not jeopardised. In order to optimise our cost of capital we use equity substitutes such as hybrid capital and the transfer of risk to capital and retrocession markets. Through the risk-appropriate allocation of the cost of capital to individual business areas we strive to maximise the risk-adjusted profit.

Opportunities for the Hannover Re Group are to be anticipated inter alia as a consequence of the impending adoption of riskbased solvency systems, such as Solvency II, in Europe. Solvency II is expected to be implemented on 1 January 2014, although the first regulations will enter into force in 2013. We have long practised a risk-based and value-based management approach of the type which regulators will then require and we began to make our preparations for the requirements of Solvency II at an early stage. This includes participating in all Quantitative Impact Studies (QIS) and entering the preapplication phase for approval of an internal capital model. We see Solvency II as an opportunity for the convergence of international regulatory and internal corporate approaches and, all in all, we believe that we are well-equipped to provide the markets with tailored products. We see market opportunities in the area of structured reinsurance solutions designed to reduce solvency requirements, individual financing solutions and in the transfer of risks to the capital market. Thanks to our broad Group diversification, we enjoy the advantage of being able to offer our clients attractive solutions for improving their solvency margin. For Hannover Re itself, the capital requirements imposed under Solvency II are unlikely to present an obstacle, since our internal capitalisation targets (confidence level of 99.97%) go well beyond the regulatory requirements (confidence level of 99.5%).

Stronger demand for reinsurance covers can also be expected as a consequence of content-based adjustments to the natural catastrophe simulation models used by many companies (including Hannover Re) as well as the vigorous growth recorded in various target markets. Furthermore, we anticipate rising demand for individual protection against biometric risks in major emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil. Business ideas and opportunities are systematically analysed by our Business Opportunity Management unit with the aim of generating new business and thereby enabling the Hannover Re Group to enjoy continued sustainable growth going forward. This is complemented by initiatives such as our “future radar”, a systematic analysis of relevant factors that will drive future success.

In this connection we aspire to a rating from the rating agencies most relevant to our industry that opens up and secures access for our company to all attractive business worldwide. The current financial strength rating from Standard & Poor’s is “AA-” (“Very strong”, stable outlook) and the rating from A.M. Best is “A” (“Excellent”, positive outlook). Hannover Re’s risk management is assessed by Standard & Poor’s as “strong”, the second-best S&P rating. This evaluation testifies to the quality of our holistic approach to risk management. We would additionally refer the reader to our remarks on the financial strength ratings of our subsidiaries in section “Financial position” of the management report.


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