Risk warehousing within insurance firms and the role of securitization
Author(s)Strydom, Johann J. (Johann Jurie)
Sloan School of Management.
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Insurance firms perform two key economic functions. First, they intermediate risk by marketing, selling and administering insurance policies. Second, they warehouse the risks underlying those policies. If viewed as separate businesses, intermediation and warehousing have very different risk profiles and characteristics. While intermediation is a function essential to the firm's role, the warehousing of those risks is mostly optional. It involves deciding to retain risks for the insurance firm's account rather than hedge the risk and thereby pass it on to a third party. The decision to retain or hedge risks is critical to a firm's financial outcomes. Insurance risks include underwriting factors like longevity, mortality and exposure to natural disasters. They also include economic factors like interest rates, currencies, counter-party default and equity markets. The consensus in the academic theory is that since insurance firms face significant frictional costs in raising capital, value-maximising firms will hedge all risks where the spread costs of the hedging instrument are low. This would seem to include most or all economic risks. As for underwriting risks, where hedging spreads are high, the decision will be a trade-off The firm will weigh up the reduced Risk-Bearing Costs offered by the hedging counter-party versus the Risk Transfer Costs incurred in these transactions. In practice it seems many firms hedge less than might be expected, retaining more economic and underwriting risk than may be explained by the theory. Factors which may be driving a bias towards risk are briefly explored, including regulatory drivers and an expectation of beating the market. Insurance-linked securitization offers benefits as a means of hedging risk and enhancing shareholder value through reduced Risk-Bearing Costs, although it faces informational problems that increase Risk Transfer Costs. Catastrophe Risk Bonds appear to have achieved a critical mass on the back of some historical capital shortages in the reinsurance industry. The life insurance securitization market could be poised for growth, but based on the history of Catastrophe Risk Bonds it may also require capital shortages in the life industry as a catalyst. Regulatory capital requirements will play a pivotal role in this regard.
Thesis (M.B.A.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, 2011.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 55-58).
DepartmentSloan School of Management
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sloan School of Management.