Tag Archives: Eamon Comerford

Collateral management for reinsurance

In July 2020, Milliman professionals published the research report ‘Reinsurance as a capital management tool for life insurers.’ This report was written by our consultants Eamon Comerford, Paul Fulcher, Rosemary Maher and myself.

Capital management is an increasingly important topic for insurers as they look to find ways to manage their risks and the related capital requirements and to optimise their solvency balance sheets. Reinsurance is one of the key capital management tools available to insurers. The paper investigates common reinsurance strategies, along with new developments and innovative strategies that could be implemented by companies.

This blog post is the fifth in a series of posts about this research. Each one gives an overview of a section of the Milliman report.

Collateral

Many reinsurance transactions are collateral-backed to mitigate against counterparty default risk in respect of the reinsurer. The amount of collateral required to back a reinsurance transaction will depend on the type of reinsurance and the reinsurer’s creditworthiness. There are several different types of collateral which may be used to back reinsurance transactions, including:

  • Letters of credit
  • Funds withheld
  • Trust arrangements
  • Cash or other securities
  • Other assets, such as those that directly back the liabilities
  • Other third-party sureties

The Solvency II regulations outline various requirements that must be met for collateral arrangements to be recognised in the Solvency Capital Requirement (SCR) calculation. Some of the key requirements are that the:

  • Insurer should have access to the collateral assets in a timely manner in the event of default
  • Collateral should provide protection by being of sufficient credit quality and stable in value
  • Value of the collateral should not be materially dependent on the credit quality of the counterparty.

Collateral invested in fixed income assets can, for instance, be highly correlated with the credit risk of the counterparty. If this is the case, the collateral placed will not effectively mitigate the counterparty default risk. These requirements can be quite onerous in practice, further emphasising the need for careful consideration as part of the treaty negotiations and design.

Insurers should set strict limits and investment guidelines on the collateral account when financial investments are involved. Also, insurers should understand how any remaining uncollateralised exposure can move over time and under different possible scenarios.

It is often desirable by insurers and/or by regulators that collateralised assets do not leave the jurisdiction in which the insurer is domiciled. This is typically possible through the use of custodians operating in the insurer’s home territory.

Collateral management is a very important component of a reinsurance arrangement and is sometimes the most critical part, particularly for asset-intensive reinsurance such as a full risk reinsurance cover. Not only is collateral management an important part of obtaining regulatory approval, it is also important to maintain the effectiveness of the risk transfer because collateral can be used to reduce counterparty risk without restricting the balance sheet optimisation mechanism of the reinsurance cover.

Milliman research paper

The full research paper can be found on Milliman’s website here, where you can also find an executive summary version that notes some of the key highlights of the research and acts as a guide to the full paper.

Regulatory considerations for reinsurance

In July 2020, Milliman professionals published the research report “Reinsurance as a capital management tool for life insurers.” This report was written by consultants Paul Fulcher, Rik van Beers, Rosemary Maher, and myself.

Capital management is an increasingly important topic for insurers as they look to find ways to manage their risks and the related capital requirements and to optimise their solvency balance sheets. Reinsurance is one of the key capital management tools available to insurers. The paper investigates common reinsurance strategies, along with new developments and innovative strategies that could be implemented by companies.

This blog post is the fourth in a series of posts about this research. Each one gives an overview of a section of the Milliman report.

Regulatory considerations

Demonstrating that a reinsurance deal is genuinely used as a risk-mitigating technique as part of a firm’s overall risk strategy is key for regulatory approval. Engaging with regulators early in the process is important, especially when considering reinsurance contracts that are highly bespoke in nature. Demonstrating enhanced policyholder protection is also paramount for most regulators.

The main criteria for accepting reinsurance transactions that a regulator will expect to see are:

  • A clear business rationale for implementing a reinsurance deal.
  • A strong understanding of the risks that are being transferred, the risks that remain and any new risks that emerge as part of the transfer, particularly counterparty risk. It is not necessary to have reinsured every component of the risk, but a clear understanding of what is and is not transferred is imperative. Furthermore, a genuine transfer of risk is expected to take place rather than arbitraging regulations to reduce capital requirements.
  • A low level of basis risk and a clear understanding of this basis risk.
  • Clear analysis and consideration of different possible outcomes, including scenarios where the reinsurance may not be effective.
  • A financially strong (and preferably large) counterparty and stringent security in the arrangement, particularly using collateral or other risk-mitigating measures. The reinsurer’s jurisdiction may also be relevant to the regulator.
  • Regulators are sometimes keen to see that assets transferred as part of a reinsurance transaction are held in local custodian accounts. This is very relevant for insurers that are considering entering into deals with reinsurers that operate outside of their jurisdictions.
  • Recapture plans in case of reinsurer financial distress or default.

The above criteria are typically important considerations for most insurers as part of their internal governance and risk management in any case. Early engagement with regulators is often the best way to achieve a positive outcome in terms of getting regulatory buy-in for a material new reinsurance arrangement.

Milliman research paper

The full research paper can be found on Milliman’s website here, where you can also find an executive summary version that notes some of the key highlights of the research and acts as a guide to the full paper.

Evaluating reinsurance strategies

In July 2020, Milliman professionals published the research report “Reinsurance as a capital management tool for life insurers.” This report was written by consultants Eamon Comerford, Paul Fulcher, Rosemary Maher, and myself.

Capital management is an increasingly important topic for insurers as they look to find ways to manage their risks and the related capital requirements and to optimise their solvency balance sheets. Reinsurance is one of the key capital management tools available to insurers. The paper investigates common reinsurance strategies, along with new developments and innovative strategies that could be implemented by companies.

This blog post is the third in a series of posts about this research. Each one gives an overview of a section of the Milliman report.

Evaluating reinsurance strategies

Insurers can typically choose between several reinsurance strategies, each with its own benefits and trade-offs. When deciding on which reinsurance strategy to implement, the key areas of consideration can be broken down further into the following characteristics:

Capital requirement considerations
  • Impact on required capital: An effective reinsurance cover transfers risk from the insurer’s balance sheet, generally lowering the capital requirement for the risk transferred. The overall impact on required capital depends on (i) the amount of risk transferred, (ii) the diversification benefits, (iii) the additional risk introduced by the reinsurance cover and (iv) the basis risk.
  • Additional risk introduced: Additional risks might be introduced by the reinsurance cover, requiring the insurer to hold capital against them. Examples are (i) counterparty default risk, (ii) expense risk due to a changing expense basis and (iii) a loss in diversification benefits.
    • Counterparty default risk can be substantial, depending on the credit rating of the reinsurer and the scope of the treaty. This can even lead to the Solvency II Standard Formula not being appropriate to capture the counterparty default risk. Additional capital buffers might be required in this case to protect the insurer against adverse scenarios, such as a downgrade of the reinsurer in combination with a decrease in interest rates. These buffers can be substantial and additional mitigation might have to be put in place.
  • Renewals required: In cases where reinsurance covers are short-term (e.g., five years) there can be a duration mismatch compared to the liabilities. This requires the cover to be rolled forward at maturity. Replacements can impose additional risks due to, for instance, the absence of liquidity in the market or increased reinsurance costs. This might cause an issue for recognition as a risk mitigation technique as per the requirements under Solvency II.
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Decision process for reinsurance implementation

In July 2020, Milliman professionals published the research report “Reinsurance as a capital management tool for life insurers.” This report was written by Eamon Comerford, Paul Fulcher, Rosemary Maher, and myself.

Capital management is an increasingly important topic for insurers as they look to find ways to manage their risks and the related capital requirements and to optimise their solvency balance sheets. Reinsurance is one of the key capital management tools available to insurers. The paper investigates common reinsurance strategies, along with new developments and innovative strategies that could be implemented by companies.

This blog post is one of a series being released in relation to this research. Each blog post will give an overview of a certain section of the Milliman report.

Decision process for reinsurance implementation

There are several ways reinsurance can be used as a capital management tool. In practice, their efficiency is dependent on a lot of factors and, when implementing a reinsurance arrangement, several choices therefore need to be made.

Before deciding on which arrangement to implement, it is important to decide:

  1. What key performance indicators (KPIs) and key risk indicators (KRIs) the company wants to improve using the reinsurance strategy. Examples of KPIs are return on capital, stable dividend payments, new business growth and operating profit. Examples of KRIs are the solvency coverage ratio, liquidity of the portfolio, credit exposures and capital requirements.
  2. What the trade-offs of the strategy are and whether they are acceptable.
  3. How these trade-offs evolve during the run-off period of the insurer’s portfolio.

If an insurer is well capitalised—there is enough capacity to write new business, volatility in the coverage ratio does not cause serious issues and the company favours a higher profit margin over lower and/or more stable capital requirements—then the need for capital management actions might be less urgent. This does not mean that reinsurance strategies are completely out of the picture. Instead, the company can take preemptive measures by putting capital management actions in place to prepare for situations where the coverage ratio is not at an acceptable level.

An example of such a preemptive measure is so-called ‘just-in-time’ reinsurance cover. Here, the insurer implements a reinsurance treaty with minimal risk transfer that can be scaled up relatively easily and quickly when needed, because most of the preparations required for the scaled-up treaty have already been carried out as part of the initial due diligence process.

Therefore, a fourth factor to consider when deciding on capital management actions relates to timing:

  • When to implement the capital management action.

Based on the answers to these questions the board of an insurer can decide on which reinsurance cover and strategy to implement. It is important to reach this conclusion in the early stages of the process as due diligence of the reinsurance implementation can require quite some time and significant resources. Furthermore, once a reinsurance arrangement is implemented, it can be challenging to recapture it or to transfer it to a different counterparty.

Milliman research paper

The full research paper can be found on Milliman’s website here. At the same site, you can also find an executive summary version that notes some of the key highlights of the research and acts as a guide to the full paper.

Capital management and reinsurance considerations

Life insurance companies face multiple risks that evolve over time and they must hold capital as a buffer against these risks. Capital management is an increasingly important topic for insurers as they look to find ways to manage their risks and the related capital requirements and to optimise their solvency balance sheets.

Given the traditionally long-term nature of the insurer’s liabilities, effective capital management can be complex. Insurers may face capital pressure due to their solvency coverage level, shareholder demands, regulatory concerns, etc. Reinsurance is one of the key capital management tools available to insurers. Several reinsurance structures are available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages and requiring experience and expertise to make optimal decisions.

In this paper, Milliman professionals explore a range of reinsurance strategies that could be used by life insurers for capital management purposes. They investigate more common reinsurance strategies along with new developments and innovative strategies that could be implemented by companies.

Making better use of available internal data

Data science is a term given to the broad array of activities used to gain insight and extract value from existing data sources, including techniques such as data analytics, predictive analytics, machine learning, data mining and artificial intelligence. The use of data science techniques enables the extraction of value from increasingly diverse sources of data.

The cost of storing data has been falling exponentially for decades, and many companies have started storing lots of potentially valuable internal data. Computing speeds have been increasing exponentially for decades, and data analysis software has been steadily improving, making it feasible for companies to analyse and gain insight from these larger data sets.

In this briefing note, Milliman’s Donal McGinley, Bridget MacDonnell and Eamon Comerford provide a high-level overview of how insurers can make better use of internal data to gain insight and drive competitive advantage.