Alternative Risk Transfer (ART)


As we head into August and the weekend, here are some of the stories from around the insurance blogosphere that piqued our interest:

Bertha: Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and other nearby islands as Tropical Storm Bertha – the second named storm of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season – approaches the Caribbean. Early Friday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports that Bertha’s winds are near 45 mph with no significant change in strength expected in the next few days. The latest 5-day forecast track for Bertha via the NHC has it staying well off the U.S. East Coast – let’s hope it stays that way.

Commercial Rate Increases Slow: Prices for commercial property/casualty insurance continued to slide in the second quarter of 2014, according to the latest quarterly survey from the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers. On average, prices for small, medium and large accounts eased by a modest -0.5 percent during the second quarter, compared with 1.5 percent in the first quarter. Competition continued to drive the market, the Council said. Of note, pricing for property fell into negative territory with a -2.6 percent drop last quarter compared with flat pricing in the first quarter.

CAT Bond, ILS Market Dashboard: Looking for real-time metrics of the growing insurance-linked securities (ILS) and catastrophe bond market? Look no further than the just-launched Artemis Dashboard, an easy-to-use tool that allows you to access the data behind the transactions. You can view the current size of the market, issuance for the current year, top sponsors in the market as well as analyze outstanding cat bond and ILS market by key metrics such as the mix of perils, triggers, expected loss levels and pricing, and also data about the development of the market over time.

The I.I.I. has additional resources on these topics. Check out I.I.I. facts + statistics on hurricanes and catastrophe bonds.

Superstorm Sandy highlighted the enormous risk of storm surge along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, so we’re interested to read that the captive insurer of the New York Mass Transit Authority (MTA) has accessed the capital markets to cover it in the event of storm surge resulting from a named storm.

Artemis blog reports that this is the first time in the history of the catastrophe bond market that a transaction has provided cover just for storm surge:

Hurricane and tropical storm induced storm surge is included in many U.S. wind cat bonds, so it is not particularly diversifying, but it has never been structured into a cat bond as the sole peril in this way and is an interesting addition to the market that could spur more issuance of storm surge cat bonds. It’s another sign of the increasing maturity and flexibility in the cat bond market, as well as the increasing appetite investors are showing for catastrophe risk.”

Artemis adds that the sponsor, the captive insurer of the New York Mass Transit Authority (MTA), has significant exposure to storm surge, as evidenced by the losses it faced from last year’s hurricane Sandy:

The MTA suffered a loss in the region of $5 billion from the storm, predominantly from surge due to flooded transit tunnels and subways, so it is encouraging to see it turn to the catastrophe bond market for a new source of reinsurance protection.”

The $125 million catastrophe bond will be issued by First Mutual Transportation Assurance Co. (FMTAC), the MTA’s captive insurer and sold via MetroCat Re Ltd, a Bermuda domiciled special purpose insurer.

Artemis says the deal offers protection against named storms that generate a storm surge event index that equals or exceeds 8.5 feet for Area A or 15.5 feet for Area B. Area A includes tidal gauges located in The Battery, Sandy Hook and Rockaway Inlet, while Area B includes tidal gauges in East Creak and Kings Point.

Business Insurance has more on this story.

Check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on catastrophe bonds.

As Hurricane Isaac hit the Gulf coast as a Category 1 storm, an interesting tidbit came across the wires regarding state-run property insurer Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

In a press release, think tank R Street Institute noted that Pelican Re – a $125 million catastrophe bond issued by Louisiana Citizens – would be triggered if the storm produces more than $200 million in losses for the residual market entity.

If these conditions are met, Isaac would be the first storm ever to trigger a catastrophe bond issued by a state-run insurer.

Over at Artemis blog, there was more discussion:

Pelican Re does not cover pure flood damage so that is in its favour, however we believe storm surge caused by hurricane is covered and wind damage most certainly is. Louisiana Citizens has a great amount of exposure in the coastal areas where hurricane Isaac is currently making the greatest impact. As Pelican Re is an indemnity cat bond it is unlikely we will understand whether there has been an impact for some time as claims come in and losses to Louisiana Citizens are quantified.”

An updated paper on the residual market property plans from the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) notes that a growing number of plans are accessing the capital markets as part of their reinsurance strategy, bolstering their ability to fund losses during hurricane season.

As well as Louisiana Citizens, Florida Citizens also accessed the capital markets in 2012, issuing a $750 million catastrophe bond – making it the largest single peril catastrophe bond in the history of the insurance-linked securities market.

They join a growing list that includes North Carolina’s Beach and Windstorm Plan and the Massachusetts Fair Plan.

For more information on the catastrophe bond market, check out this I.I.I. backgrounder on alternative risk-financing options.

Reports on the H1N1 virus continuing to cause illness, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. during the normally flu-free summer months and newly issued vaccination guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are raising concerns on pandemic risk. This may prove an area of future growth for the capital markets as life insurers increasingly look to alternative risk financing as a way to raise additional capital and transfer pandemic risk. For example a new report from Swiss Re suggests that securitizations of extreme mortality risk will continue to expand as more large global life insurers and reinsurers adopt these tools to hedge exposure to pandemic risk. Swiss Re notes that the combined volume of extreme mortality bonds issued so far is $2.2 billion, a miniscule amount compared to the face amount of mortality risk insured globally. “It is difficult to estimate precisely the market potential for this type of securitization because it refers only to extreme mortality, but it will likely fall in the range of $5-20 billion by 2019,” Swiss Re says. Mortality securitizations are simpler than other life securitizations and investors are more comfortable with the underlying insurance risk, it adds. Check out I.I.I. information on alternative risk financing options.

This week marks the Vermont Captive Insurance Association’s 24th Annual Conference where the economic downturn is likely to be the focus of discussions. Recent research from ratings agency A.M. Best noted that U.S. captive insurers’ net income declined by around 66 percent in 2008 for a composite of 186 captive companies. This reflects realized losses of $1.2 billion for the year, a large percentage of which resulted from one company’s investment losses. On the bright side, net underwriting income actually increased over the prior year – evidence of the captive industry’s typical underwriting discipline and its inclination not to rely on investment income, according to A.M. Best. Captive formations continue amid a softening commercial insurance market, but new captive domiciles are finding it challenging to establish a presence. A.M. Best reports that the outlook for the captive industry is stable as participants exercise their financial flexibility in a softening market. Check out I.I.I. information on captive and other risk financing options.

Despite a decline in the number of issuances the catastrophe bond market continues to advance helped by continued stabilization in the global financial markets, according to the latest review of the market from Guy Carpenter. It reveals that six catastrophe bond transactions were completed in the second quarter of 2009, down 25 percent from eight transactions in the second quarter of 2008, while risk principal issued was $808 million, off 54 percent from $1.75 billion issued during the year earlier period. This brings the tally for the first half of 2009 to nine catastrophe bonds issued, accounting for aggregate risk capital of $1.38 billion. Two quarters into 2009, total cat bond risk capital outstanding fell 7 percent to $11.2 billion, the second consecutive quarter in which total risk capital outstanding declined. However, Guy Carpenter says several factors may converge to make conditions more favorable to cat bond sponsors for the rest of the year, assuming no major catastrophes, including an improvement in broader capital market conditions as the general economy stabilizes and distance from last year’s financial crisis increases, and increased risk capacity as a result of reduction or restructuring in some traditional reinsurance programs. Check out further I.I.I. information on alternative risk-financing options.

What a difference a year can make…The catastrophe bond market, described as mainstream rather than alternative after a record-setting year in 2007, saw a sharp fall in issuance both in terms of risk capital and number of transactions in 2008. Guy Carpenter’s latest review of the market reveals that cat bond issuance volume fell 62 percent to $2.7 billion in 2008, from just under $7 billion in 2007 as a soft reinsurance market and the global financial crisis took their toll. Just 13 transactions were completed during the year, compared to 27 in 2007. At year-end 2008, total cat bond risk capital outstanding was $11.8 billion, a 14.5 percent decline from $13.8 billion in 2007. But a slow issuance year in 2008 masks a story of resilience and risk management flexibility, according to Guy Carpenter. For example, in terms of issuance volume it found that 2008 was the market’s third most active year since catastrophe bonds were introduced in 1997. Check out further I.I.I. information on alternative risk-financing options. 

Alternative risk financing and risk transfer has proven increasingly attractive to our industry over the years. Insurers and reinsurers have looked to the capital markets more and more to diversify their risks and expand capacity. So it’s not surprising that Allianz, Deloitte, State Farm, Swiss Re and Zurich Financial Services are among the co-sponsors of a new report published today by the World Economic Forum, titled Convergence of Insurance and Capital Markets. The report explores the growth of the market for insurance linked securities (ILS) and highlights potential next steps needed to continue its development and to further encourage investors’ strong appetite for catastrophe bonds and other forms of ILS products.

According to the report, the ILS market has seen strong growth since its inception in the mid 1990s. Issuance of ILS totaled $14.4 billion in 2007, up 40 percent from $10.3 billion in 2006. At the end of 2007, the notional value of outstanding ILS stood at $39 billion, a 50 percent increase from $26 billion at the end of 2006. Certain experts predict robust growth over the next several years. The report also notes that to accelerate the convergence of insurance with the capital markets, risk instruments must be made simpler and more attractive, and a wider investor audience must be courted. Check out background I.I.I. information on Captives and Other Risk Financing Options.   

Medical malpractice continues to be the dominant line of business for U.S. captives. The performance of this line therefore can have a significant impact on the overall captive insurance market. A new report by ratings agency A.M. Best notes that medical malpractice net premiums written fell 26 percent in 2007, leading to a 15 percent drop in net premiums written for a composite of 177 captive insurance companies. However, captives overall benefited from favorable underwriting trends. Solid underwriting results in medical malpractice helped the captive composite’s loss ratio to improve substantially in 2007 to 61.9, for example. Looking ahead, A.M. Best predicts that in spite of the soft market, the outlook for the captive industry is stable. Captive formations continue even as the commercial market softens and new domiciles have entered the market. A key advantage for captive insurers is also their ability to compete not just on price, but on customized services for their insureds. Check out I.I.I. updates on captives and other risk financing options and on medical malpractice. 

Captives owned by American firms are the most significant contributors to the overall growth of the global captive insurance market. According to a new benchmarking report from Marsh, approximately 75 percent of captives originate from six countries, with U.S. owned captives representing 53 percent. Whereas Bermuda was once the default choice for North American corporations, Marsh notes that many companies are now selecting onshore U.S. domiciles. Over 25 states have put in place some form of captive legislation. With this in mind it’s no surprise that within the survey sample group there is a significant concentration of risk in the U.S. However, in Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific regions over 65 percent of the exposure is written on a European or global basis. Marsh says this divergence perhaps reflects the fact that much of the new captive growth in the U.S. has been driven by firms with domestically focused risk financing issues, e.g. Gulf coast exposed property. Check out further I.I.I. info on captive insurers. 

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