Yield-starved European insurers look past risks to mull emerging bonds
* Insurers' emerging debt holdings remain relatively tiny
* But half of EMEA insurers plan increase in 2016 - survey
* Yields negative on 3 trillion euros of European debt
* Insurers can earn average 6.5 pct on emerging dollar bonds
* Emerging debtholders risk ratings downgrades, defaults
* Yield hunger especially acute among life insurers
By Carolyn Cohn and Sujata Rao
LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) - Starved of yield in Western bond markets and at risk of defaulting on future payments to policyholders, Europe's 10-trillion euro insurance industry is turning to emerging debt for the higher returns it desperately needs.
While emerging debt has mostly lost investors money in recent years and brings its own risks in the form of higher default rates, a survey by the world's biggest asset manager BlackRock found that half the insurers in Europe, Middle East and Africa planned to increase allocations to emerging debt in 2016. Continuación...