Court of Appeal overturns Prudential/Rothesay verdict

On 2 December 2020 the Court of Appeal in England handed down its judgment to uphold the appeal that had been brought in relation to the Part VII transfer of annuity business from The Prudential Assurance Company Limited (Prudential) to Rothesay Life Plc (Rothesay), (collectively “the Appellants”).  

The appeal was brought by the Appellants following the decision of the High Court, delivered by Mr. Justice Snowden on 16 August 2019, to decline to sanction the transfer of approximately £12 billion of non-profit annuity liabilities from Prudential to Rothesay. The annuities in question had already been 100% reinsured to Rothesay and therefore the purpose of the Part VII transfer was to formalise the transfer of risk that had already taken place.

In his oral remarks when handing down the judgment, the Chancellor of the High Court, the Rt. Hon. Sir Geoffrey Vos, noted the following areas of disagreement with Mr. Justice Snowden’s original judgment:

  • Mr. Justice Snowden’s decision to disregard the conclusions of the Independent Expert in relation to the likelihood of future capital support being required by Prudential and Rothesay. The Court of Appeal took the view that basing conclusions in this area primarily on the Solvency II financial strength of the transferor and the transferee was justified, notwithstanding that the Solvency II capital requirement is based on a one year time horizon rather than a time horizon consistent with the lifetime of an annuity, given the role of the regulatory regime in protecting future solvency and the speculative nature of any assumptions about the future availability of parental support.
  • Mr. Justice Snowden’s decision to disregard the non-objection to the transfer of the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).  The Court of Appeal was mindful of the PRA’s and FCA’s views. 
  • Mr. Justice Snowden’s decision to assign significant weight to the argument by objecting policyholders that they had specifically chosen Prudential based on its age and venerability; the Court of Appeal concluded that the relevant consideration was whether the transfer would have a material adverse effect on policyholders, and that this rested principally on the impact of the transfer on the likelihood that obligations to policyholders would continue to be met.

The decision to uphold the appeal does not mean that the transfer has been sanctioned. The appeal was focused on the question of whether the original judgment in the High Court, delivered by Mr. Justice Snowden, was legally sound based on the information available to the High Court at the time.  The Court of Appeal elected not to consider the question of whether it was appropriate to sanction the transfer based on current circumstances, and therefore the question of whether the transfer should be sanctioned will now be remitted to the High Court for a fresh round of hearings, in effect starting the Part VII transfer process again.

Milliman to expand Data Science & AI capability in the Benelux

Milliman announced that it has expanded its data science and artificial intelligence capability by taking on the data science consulting team of Ortec Finance.

The new team, in combination with Milliman’s existing data science competence, will continue to support its current customers with data science consultancy projects in the Benelux to generate value from their structured and unstructured data, and to advise them on their strategic journey to become data driven. Ortec Finance will concentrate on the use of data science in their software solutions.

“Due to digitization, companies across a wide range of industries see their data volume explode. This in combination with rapid progress in AI technology, leads to a substantial demand for consulting services in this field. We are at the forefront of the era of AI disruption,” says Raymond van Es, who will serve as Lead Data Science & AI of Milliman in the Benelux.

Peter Franken, Milliman Principal, sees it as an important step in strengthening Milliman’s predictive analytics and modelling capabilities in the Benelux. “Having Raymond and his team joining allows us to accelerate expanding our service offering outside the financial industry as well as our technical capabilities in the area of data science and predictive analytics.”

New U.S.-based insurance restructuring mechanism approved

Oklahoma has now made good on its promise to become the leading domicile for a new U.S.-based insurance restructuring mechanism—the Insurance Business Transfer (IBT). In late November 2019, the Oklahoma Insurance Department approved the IBT application (or IBT Plan) of Providence Washington Insurance Company to transfer policies to Yosemite Insurance Company – both companies are part of Enstar Group.

With Commissioner Mulready’s approval, the IBT Plan was sent to the District Court of Oklahoma County with a request for its approval. Despite court delays resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, on October 15, 2020, the District Court of Oklahoma issued its order of approval and implementation for the first-ever U.S. IBT, allowing for the novation of insurance policies to an assuming insurer without policyholder consent. Enstar worked diligently to push this “intracompany” business transfer forward and has now set the stage for future transfers in this space.

In this article, Milliman consultant Stephen DiCenso, who served as the Independent Expert on this transaction, discusses the benefits to restructuring mechanisms such as the IBT.

Report quantifies flood risk for residential properties in the U.S.

Despite recent efforts to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), most U.S. homeowners do not carry insurance to protect their properties against the risk of flooding. For most homeowners, the purchase of this coverage is mandatory only if they live in certain specified high-risk areas. However, significant risk exists in areas where the purchase of flood insurance is rare. Even in areas where flood coverage is required, data from the NFIP and private flood insurers do not indicate high degrees of coverage. 

Beyond direct damages to property and communities, the flood insurance protection gap could have many downstream financial impacts. Homeowners insurance is integral to protecting the collateral that underpins the U.S. mortgage system. As a result, coverage gaps could create adverse financial exposure to bearers of mortgage risk including mortgagees, insurers, reinsurers, federal underwriting agencies, and bondholders. 

In a new Society of Actuaries report, professionals from Milliman and catastrophe modeling firm KatRisk examine the countrywide residential exposure to flooding and downstream implications including its impact on mortgage default risk. They also consider how flooding may be affected by rising sea levels and evaluate how it could affect the financial health of residential householders.

Mortgage default risk drops in Q2 2020, despite pandemic, due to home price growth and refinance volume

Milliman today announced the second quarter (Q2) 2020 results of the Milliman Mortgage Default Index (MMDI), which shows the latest monthly estimate of the lifetime default risk of U.S.-backed mortgages.

During Q2 2020, the economic component of default risk for government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) acquisitions (purchased and refinanced loans backed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) defied expectations, decreasing for the first time since at least Q3 2019 as a result of home price growth and robust refinance volume. In Q2, approximately 70% of mortgage volume was refinance loans, which are considered lower risk relative to purchase loans. Because of this, and an increased demand for housing, overall default risk for GSE loans decreased, from 1.99% in Q1 2020 to 1.74% in Q2.

Low interest rates have driven homeowners to refinance in record numbers, with 2020 refinance volume exceeding $1 trillion and totaling more than the volume of 2018 and 2019 combined. That, coupled with home price growth, has resulted in an improvement in mortgage default risk in Q2, despite the economic stressors from the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Ginnie Mae acquisitions, the MMDI rate increased from 10.33% in Q1 2020 to 10.61% in Q2 2020, driven mainly by increased refinance volume. Many of these loans were originated through streamlined refinance programs, where a credit score is not provided. A credit score of 600 is conservatively assigned, which increases borrower default risk during heavy refinance periods

The models used in Milliman’s MMDI analysis rely on home prices to forecast default rates, and do not rely on unemployment rates, nor do they have specific adjustments for special legislative actions or programs such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

For more information, click here.

Enhancing ERM frameworks based on learned lessons from COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 has illuminated the wide-ranging impact that emerging risks can have on insurers across the globe. It has focussed attention on a grey area that exists in recognising when an emerging risk has fully “emerged” and how it should be treated. It would seem logical that once an emerging risk is realised, its subsequent monitoring and management should fall under a pre-existing risk management framework.

In this briefing note, Milliman professionals discuss how traditional enterprise risk management (ERM) frameworks may not fully capture the complexity of an emerging risk event, and reflect on some lessons that can be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.