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Reinsurance for Catastrophes and Cataclysms

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  • David M. Cutler
  • Richard J. Zeckhauser

Abstract

This paper examines the optimal design of insurance and reinsurance policies. We first consider reinsurance for catastrophes: risks which are large for any one insurer but not for the reinsurance market as a whole. Reinsurance for catastrophes is complicated by adverse selection. Optimal reinsurnace in the presence of adverse selection depends critically on the source of information asymmetry. When information on the probability of a loss is private but the magnitude of the loss is public optimal reinsurance employs a deductible-style deductible-style excess-of-loss policy, and when is is private but the proba- bility of a loss is common, optimal reinsurance covers small and large risks, but makes the primary insurer responsible for moderate risks. There is a dramatic divergence between these designs, which suggests that traditional approaches to design may be misguided. We then consider reinsurance for cata- clysms: risks that are so large that a loss can threaten the solvency of re- insurance such as a major earthquake, while others derive from common risks-changes in conditions that affect many individuals-such as the liability revolution or or escalating medical care costs. We argue that cataclysms must be reinsured in either broad securities markets or by the government. Beyond their one- period loss potential, cataclysms pose another risk: risk levels change over time. A simulation model traces the implications of evolving risk levels for long-term patterns of losses and premiums, where the latter reflect learning learning about loss distributions. Premium risk emerges as an important part of risk, which reinsurance and primary insurance markets do not adequately diversify."

Suggested Citation

  • David M. Cutler & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 1997. "Reinsurance for Catastrophes and Cataclysms," NBER Working Papers 5913, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5913 Note: AP PE
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    8. David Cummins & Christopher Lewis & Richard Phillips, 1999. "Pricing Excess-of-Loss Reinsurance Contracts against Cat as trophic Loss," NBER Chapters,in: The Financing of Catastrophe Risk, pages 93-148 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Torben Andersen, 2001. "Managing Economic Exposures of Natural Disasters: Exploring Alternative Financial Risk Management Opportunities and Instruments," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 8934, Inter-American Development Bank.
    2. Harrington, Scott E. & Niehaus, Greg, 2003. "Capital, corporate income taxes, and catastrophe insurance," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 365-389, October.
    3. Cutler David M. & Zeckhauser Richard J., 1998. "Adverse Selection in Health Insurance," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, pages 1-33.
    4. Froot, Kenneth A., 2001. "The market for catastrophe risk: a clinical examination," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2-3), pages 529-571, May.
    5. John Lewis, 2010. "Reinsurers as financial intermediaries in the market for catastrophic risk," DNB Occasional Studies 802, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    6. Glismann, Hans H. & Schrader, Klaus, 2001. "Ein funktionst├╝chtiges System privater Arbeitslosenversicherung," Kiel Working Papers 1076, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    7. Skees, Jerry & Hazell, P. B. R. & Miranda, Mario, 1999. "New approaches to crop yield insurance in developing countries:," EPTD discussion papers 55, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Skees, Jerry R., 2000. "A role for capital markets in natural disasters: a piece of the food security puzzle," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 365-378, June.
    9. Jakob Eberl & Darko Jus, 2012. "Evaluating policies to attain the optimal exposure to nuclear risk," RSCAS Working Papers 2012/50, European University Institute.
    10. Anonymous & Roe, Terry L., 1999. "Policy Reform, Market Stability, And Food Security; Proceedings Of A Conference Of The International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium," Policy Reform, Market Stability, and Food Security Conference, June 26-27, 1998, Alexandria Virginia 14538, International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium.
    11. Meuwissen, Miranda P. M. & Van Asseldonk, Marcel A. P. M. & Huirne, Ruud B. M., 2003. "Alternative risk financing instruments for swine epidemics," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, pages 305-322.
    12. World Bank, 2003. "Financing Rapid Onset Natural Disaster Losses in India : A Risk Management Approach," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14649, The World Bank.

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