WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18: Bermuda and the Cayman Islands have gone head-to-head at the biggest insurance convention in North America.

It is the first time the two offshore jurisdictions have been looking for business at the same venue since Caymans Premier McKeeva Bush warned earlier this year that his country was out to take on the island in a bid to win reinsurance business.

Rick Manuel, vice-president in corporate banking at the Bank of Butterfield, said that the island faced stiff competition in attracting the cream of international business – particularly from the Cayman Islands, which has made no secret it is targeting the reinsurance industry.

Mr Manuel said: “It’s a very competitive environment and we are competing with so many other domiciles, so we have got to fly the Bermuda flag pretty high.

“Cayman has a large presence here – they have a large booth and have had for years. Bermuda feels we are ahead of the game in terms of the reinsurance sector, but Cayman is the second-largest offshore domicile. It is a competition we’re in – people here have talked about it. It’s a bit of a hot topic.”

He was speaking on the second day of the annual Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) conference in Philadelphia.

More than 10,000 professionals from 50 countries are expected to attend the five-day conference, which started on Monday.

Mr Manuel added that attendance at RIMS was up this year compared to last year — when economies in the west were struggling to cope with the worldwide recession.

He said: “We have one day down and traffic has been reasonable. We got a huge downturn in attendance last year, but it’s better this year.

“You always want to see a lot of traffic through the Bermuda booth and we have seen that.”

Peter Willitts, chairman of the Bermuda Captive Conference and former president of the Bermuda Insurance Management Association, said that the strength of the insurance and reinsurance industry in Bermuda was a major plus factor for the island.

He added: Quite frankly, Cayman can’t offer anything we don’t have and the reinsurance industry wants to be seen in an environment regulated to the best international standards, which Bermuda is aggressively addressing.

“Cayman really doesn’t have the infrastructure or passed the legislation which would make that possible there.”

Mr Willitts added: “I have spoken to three people who are thinking about Bermuda and forming captive companies on the island and I know the people working on the Bermuda booth have seen a lot of interest.

“Profits do seem to be on the upswing and when you have profits, you can start taking a long-term attitude to controlling losses. Last year was a good year for incorporations in Bermuda which is, to some degree, a bellwether of what you’re doing.

“It would not surprise me to see us doing even better this year. There has been a lot of activity at RIMS and the general buzz in the city means there is a lot happening.”