North American insurers and reinsurers may take a more aggressive position in investing company assets over the next year.

Consultants at the investment arm of Towers Watson & Company, New York (NYSE:TW), have made that prediction in a summary of results from a survey of 38 large insurance company investment managers conducted in May.

About 46% of the participants said they plan on using more aggressive investment strategies, and only 9% said they plan on using more conservative strategies, the consultants say.

But the consultants found that the investment managers are still leery of risk.

Only 20% said total return is their top investment objective; 28% ranked liquidity first, and roughly the same percentage ranked principal preservation first.

The investment managers said current ultra-low interest rates are pushing their companies to considering taking on more risk in an effort to increase returns: 83% said low rates are the greatest investment challenge, and 54% said the possibility that rates could surge higher is the second greatest investment challenge.

- Allison Bell

Other Towers Watson study coverage from National Underwriter Life & Health: