Swedish marine insurance between the World Wars

University dissertation from Umeå : Institutionen för Ekonomisk Historia

Abstract: The present licentiate thesis analyses developments in Swedish marine insurance during the interwar period, including both direct marine insurance and marine reinsurance. This is done in order to provide insights on how companies of a highly internationalised and vulnerable line of insurance were affected by and responded to new risks during a period of far-reaching international financial and economic crises. Finally, the consequences of new risks and strategies are assessed.This thesis argues that during the interwar period Swedish maritime trade and Swedish marine insurance greatly depended on each other for marine insurance cover and marine insurance premium incomes. The business results in Swedish marine insurance partly depended on the development of Swedish trade. These business results were also vulnerable to currency risks. Swedish marine insurers faced no similar trade or currency risks during the two decades preceding World War I, and accordingly the returns on Swedish marine insurance were lower during the interwar period than during the last two pre-war decades. These factors probably bore their most severe consequences during the early 1920s when Swedish marine insurance on average induced losses to insurers. The remaining years of the period constituted a long-run recovery, and the Great Depression of the early 1930s caused no difficulties of the same order.This thesis also indicates that interwar Swedish marine insurers responded to new risks by increasing the level of cession to reinsurers. Another response was to increase the level of differentiation among insurance lines.This thesis describes the consequences of new risks and strategies in interwar Swedish marine insurance, focusing on the development of the Swedish marine insurance market structure and on the business results of Swedish marine insurers. Though this market shrunk and grew excessively, the relative importance of stock and mutual insurers showed only minor fluctuations. The importance of specialised marine reinsurance companies, however, fluctuated greatly. Also, cooperation between interwar marine insurers and the formation of insurance groups set new trends of concentration for the future. Finally, even though Swedish marine insurance during some years induced losses the Swedish marine insurers never experienced true losses on their total businesses.

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