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The size of the traditional U.S. life reinsurance market is shrinking, and so is the number of significant players in that market, according to a team of rating analysts at Moody’s Investors Service.

Bob Garofalo and other analysts at Moody’s assessed the U.S. life reinsurance sector in a recent commentary.

The analysts found, after looking at data from the Society of Actuaries (SOA), that the total value of traditional recurring U.S. life reinsurance fell to about $500 billion in 2017, from about $1 trillion in 2002.

The top five players handled about 90% of that business in 2017, up from 66% in 2002.

Reinsurers are trying to cope with weak demand for traditional U.S. life reinsurance by selling other types of products and services, and by expanding sales of traditional life reinsurance outside the United States, the analysts write.

(Related: Reinsurers Have Traded $60 Billion in Longevity Risk: Rating Agency)

The top five suppliers of traditional life reinsurance in the U.S. market are now Scor Global Life (US), Swiss Re, Munich Re (US), Reinsurance Group of America, and Hannover Life Re, according to the Moody’s analysis of SOA data..

A reinsurer is an entity that insures a “direct writing” insurer against the direct writer’s own risk.

In the past, life reinsurers focused mainly on protecting the direct writers against “mortality risk,” or the risk that flu epidemics, outbreaks of other diseases, or other tragic catastrophes could cause death rates to spike.

In recent years, life reinsurers have worked to increase sales of traditional life reinsurance to direct writers in the hot life markets in Asia and Latin America, the Moody’s analysts write.

Life reinsurers are also working to increase sales of arrangements that help insurers dispose of unwanted blocks of business; “longevity risk” arrangements, or reinsurance that protects annuity issuers against the risk that annuity users will live longer than expected; and life insurance sold through automated underwriting programs and direct marketing programs.

Efforts to reinsure life insurance sold through the new automated underwriting programs and direct sales programs have helped to increase the percentage of new life business reinsured in the past few years, but, ”despite the recent increase in overall cession rates, we believe there are limited growth opportunities in traditional mortality risk transfer business for life reinsurers in the U.S.,” the Moody’s analysts write.

Moody’s posts its life insurance and reinsurance behind a paywall. The life reinsurance market comment is available here.

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