Category Archives: Alternative Risk Transfer (ART)

Catastrophe Bond Activity Update

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.

Cat Bond Market Resilient

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.  

Convergence: Insurance and Capital Markets

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.  Ã‚  Ã‚  

Captive Commentary

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.  

Captive Market

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.  

Increasing Coverage Options

After all the hearings that have taken place up and down the country on coastal property insurance, legislation introduced in the House earlier this week that would expand the coverage options for commercial property insurance has been welcomed by the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS). HR 5792, known as the “Increasing Insurance Coverage Options for Consumers Act†, would allow Risk Retention Groups (RRGs) and Risk Purchasing Groups (RPGs) to write property coverage. The issue is likely to be a topic of discussion at the upcoming 2008 RIMS annual conference in San Diego April 27 to May 1. For further information on RRGs and RPGs, check out the I.I.I. issues update on captives and other risk-financing options.

Cat Bond Activity Accelerates

Speaking of capital markets solutions as an alternative†¦Mainstream, rather than alternative is how the catastrophe bond market can now be described, according to Guy Carpenter. Its sixth annual review of the market reveals a phenomenal level of transaction activity in 2007, even as rates softened for traditional reinsurance capacity. At year-end, cat bond risk capital outstanding reached $13.8 billion, a 63 percent increase over 2006’s record-setting year-end total of $8.5 billion. Cat bond risk principal now accounts for 12 percent of property limits in the U.S., and 8 percent on a worldwide basis. A couple of other highlights: publicly disclosed cat bond issuances totaled $7 billion in 2007, a 49 percent increase over the record $4.7 billion in 2006; some 27 transactions were completed in 2007, up from 20 in 2006 and nearly tripling the 10 placed in 2005. Check out further I.I.I. facts.  

IRS Reprieve for Captive Insurers

A happy development for the domestic captive insurance industry today, with the news that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has dropped a proposed regulation that likely would have driven more business offshore. Issued September 28, 2007, the proposed IRS regulation would have eliminated the right of U.S.-sponsored captives to claim reserve deductions against their domestic tax for future claims and losses on consolidated, or related, business (see our November 14, 2007 posting). Apparently the IRS decided to withdraw the planned rule change after considering all the written comments received. The Coalition for Fairness to Captive Insurers has welcomed the move, saying it removes the uncertainty that has hung over the captive industry since the IRS regulation was proposed last fall. Check out National Underwriter’s February 20 online article by Caroline McDonald for more information on the decision. As many of you know, captive insurers are the oldest form of alternative risk transfer vehicle, dating back to the 1950s. Use of captives by corporations has grown exponentially during the last 30 years in the U.S. In 2006, the U.S. was the largest captive domicile – with 1,251 licensed captives – followed by Bermuda with 989. Check out further I.I.I. info on captive insurers.  

Financial Innovation

A new report on global risks from the World Economic Forum (WEF) highlights the growing role the financial markets are playing in the transfer of risk. For example, the WEF notes that the market in insurance-linked securities is broadening from natural catastrophe bonds to credit securitizations and mortality bonds. Besides insurance-linked securities, it points out that a wide variety of derivatives and other financial instruments are now being used to transfer insurance risks.  

Just how financial innovations could reshape the future of the insurance industry is the timely topic of a discussion being held tomorrow evening in New York City. Organized by the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York (CBSAC/NY), the panel will feature experts from Swiss Re, Zurich, Deloitte and UBS. The event will take place from 6-8pm at the UJA Federation of New York, 130 East 59th Street, 7th floor conference center. For further information, contact Sepp Ruchti at jpr2115@columbia.edu

Captive Groups Coordinate IRS Response

Those of you in the alternative risk transfer business may be interested in today’s item. Two prominent captive insurance associations have teamed up to form a coalition to battle a proposed Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rule change that would significantly alter the landscape for captive insurers in the U.S.   Issued September 28, the proposed IRS regulation would eliminate the right of U.S.-sponsored captives to claim reserve deductions against their domestic tax for future claims and losses on consolidated, or related, business. Instead, they would only be allowed to claim deductions when claims are actually paid. The change would essentially result in treating the transaction as non-insurance for tax purposes. We don’t need to remind you that captive insurers are the oldest form of alternative risk transfer vehicle, dating back to the 1950s. Use of captives by corporations has grown exponentially during the last 30 years in the U.S. In 2006, the U.S. was the largest captive domicile– with 1,251 licensed captives – followed by Bermuda with 989. If the IRS proposal goes ahead, it seems likely that it would drive more business offshore. The Coalition for Fairness to Captive Insurers (CFCI) has been formed by the Captive Insurance Companies Association (CICA) and the Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA). Those interested in joining the coalition should contact either association. Check out further I.I.I. information on captive insurers.