W.R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE:WRB) Q1 2018 Earnings Conference Call - Preliminary Transcript

Apr 24, 2018 • 05:00 pm ET


W.R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE:WRB) Q1 2018 Earnings Conference Call - Preliminary Transcript


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Good day, and welcome to the W.R. Berkley Corporation First Quarter 2018 Earnings Conference Call. Today's conference call is being recorded. The speakers' remarks may contain forward-looking statements. Some of the forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking words including, without limitation, beliefs, expects or estimates. We caution you that such forward-looking statements should not be regarded as representation by us that the future plans, estimates or expectations contemplated by us will be, in fact, achieved.

Please refer to our annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2017, and our other filings made with the SEC for a description of the businesses environment in which we operate and by the important factors that may materially affect our results. W. R. Berkley Corporation is not under any obligation and expressly disclaims any such obligation to update or alter its forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

I would now like to turn the call over to Mr. Rob Berkley. Please go ahead, sir.

Rob Berkley

Brian, thank you very much and good afternoon all and welcome to our first quarter call. Joining me on this end of the phone as in the past is our Executive Chairman, Bill Berkley; and Rich Baio, our Chief Financial Officer. And the agenda for today again the following suite is I'm going to kick it off with a few general comments about the industry, give you a few high level observations about our quarter and then pass it over to Rich, who will be getting into the details of the quarter and then following his comments we will be opening it up for questions for as long as you like within reason.

So, inflation from our perspective clearly the topic of the day, I think it is the topic of the day across many industries and the insurance industry is certainly included in that. I think for some it is a moment that people have been speculating or waiting for some extended period of time and it is upon us. Some of the obvious questions are how much, how quickly is it going to get here and how long will it stay. Obviously from our perspective there is -- the impact that will come along is with a rising interest rate environment.

Other questions for the industry, what is the impact on loss cost is going to be and ultimately reserves and of course as well what is the impact going to be on investment portfolio and investment income. Having said this, we think there are a couple of other questions that one needs to be grappling with when they think about inflation in a higher interest rate environment. One of them clearly is will targeted returns be moving up with a higher benchmark, will people be looking to think about the risk free rate and as a result of that the hurdle or the delta above the risk free rate that they should be