In the 1990s, Buffett bought insurers Geico and General Re (the latter for $17 billion) because he liked that the companies kept a handle on debt. More than that, however, Buffett likes the "float" that insurance companies offer. (The float is money collected as premiums but not yet paid out as claims.) In March 1999, Buffett enjoyed a float of nearly $23 billion. Until policyholders collect on their policies, Berkshire can invest those billions as it sees fit, and who better to invest that money than Buffett himself?
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