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Insurance Against the Credit Crunch

Wednesday, 15 Aug 2007 | 10:08 AM ET

While the rest of the market is struggling with liquidity issues, at least one sector isn't having trouble generating cash: the insurance industry.

Every month, insurance holders pay their premiums, and the companies take that cash flow and invest it.

Insure Thing
Mad Money host Jim Cramer takes a look at insurance companies and tells you why you should pay attention to them.

"They make investments. They like to buy bonds," Cramer said. "These companies are gigantic cash machines. That's why a guy Warren Buffett loves to buy insurance companies."

That cash is coming in handy as high-quality, mortgage-backed bonds hit the market right along side all the other bad bonds in the midst of this credit crunch. Hedge funds are unloading their better bonds to raise money as clients demand redemptions.

So a great way to play this trend is to own an insurance company, and Cramer likes Travelers, the number-two U.S. commercial insurance company.

CEO Jay Fishman has proved himself a great manager and investor, Cramer said. While AIG's investing side has been bad, Travelers has done well.

Despite four straight quarters coming in ahead of expectations, TRV is down 5.7% for the year. Cramer called this a "baby with the bath water" story. When home values sink, that's actually good for Travelers - and all insurance companies - because it means it pays out less in the event of damage. So while most people are freaking out about the housing market, Travelers has less reason to.

Not to mention, Cramer said that in a weakening economy property and casualty insurers have outperformed, especially when credit was bad.

"When it comes to cash, the insurance companies will be the last man standing," Cramer said. "And Travelers may be the smartest of the bunch."

Questions for Cramer? madmoney@cnbc.com

Questions, comments, suggestions for the Mad Money website? madcap@cnbc.com

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