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July 17, 2024
PI Global Investments
Alternative Investments

US Insurers to Embrace Investment Risk, Seek Variety of Fixed, Private, Alternative Investments

U.S.-based insurers are preparing themselves in 2024 for potential market volatility stemming from fiscal/monetary policy, inflation, and the domestic political environment. Generally considered risk averse, these investors are preparing to embrace riskier investments this year, according to a report from institutional insurance asset management firm Conning, which oversees $214 billion in insurance and pension assets.

According to the firm, which surveyed 300 property and casualty and life insurance executives, 62% said firms are willing to take on more investment risk in 2024.  

Insurers remain concerned about volatility. Among those surveyed, inflation (92%) was the biggest concern. The domestic political environment (88%) ranked second, based on uncertainty over how the markets will react to the U.S. presidential election. 

Fiscal policy (88%), monetary policy (87%) and market volatility (87%) were also issues on the top of insurers’ minds, leading them to increase their risk tolerance across asset classes, according to Conning.    

Concerns Vary by Area  

Depending on the type of insurer, concerns differed, according to Matt Reilly, managing director and head of insurance solutions at Conning. P&C insurers were more concerned about liquidity risk, as they have higher exposure to the risk, especially due to rising insurance claim costs, while life insurers were more optimistic about 2024 and more open to embracing investment risk in their portfolios. Because of uncertainty following 2023’s inflation, rising interest rates and declining bond portfolio values, insurers are expected to seek investments in new asset classes, increasing their allocations to alternative investments and rethinking how they invest in the public markets. In embracing risk, insurers also seek to embrace more complex portfolios. 

Of those surveyed, approximately 63% said they plan to further increase investments in public fixed income, and 66% of insurers plan an increase of from 10% through 25% in private asset investments in the next two years. 

One area in which Conning noticed a renewed interest was traditional core fixed income. After a year of elevated interest rates, this asset class gained the most attention from insurers across all asset classes. Insurers were willing to increase their allocations to traditional core fixed income for the first time, says Reilly.  

Among private asset classes, 61% of insurers responding said they plan to increase their allocations to private equity. Slightly fewer (56%) reported planning to increase their exposure to private credit. Conning found that those increasing their exposure to private assets already had pre-existing exposure.  

AI Both a Tool and a Risk 

Insurers also reported interest in artificial intelligence. Among surveyed insurers, 75% reported using or piloting the use of AI in the investment process, specifically within investment research, portfolio management, investment accounting and trading.  

AI also was named as a risk factor by 85% of the insurers surveyed. The biggest concerns were potential market changes as a result of AI (89%), cybersecurity and data privacy risks (87%), ethical considerations in the use of AI (86%), and a potential lack of human oversight of AI (77%). 

Despite these risks, an overwhelming majority of insurers (89%) reported that benefits from the implementation of AI will outweigh risks of its use in the investment process.  

Related Stories: 

Conning Acquired by Italian Insurer Generali 

Insurance Investors Rethink Approaches Near End of 2023 

Blackstone Creates Corporate Credit, Asset-Based Finance, Insurance Group 


Tags: Asset Management, Conning, insurance, Matt Reilly

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