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The Market for Catastrophe Risk: A Clinical Examination

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  • Kenneth A. Froot

Abstract

This paper examines the market for catastrophe event risk -- i.e., financial claims that are linked to losses associated with natural hazards, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. This market is in transition as new approaches for transferring risk are being explored. The paper studies several recent transactions by USAA which use reinsurance capacity from capital markets rather than only from reinsurers. We identify two puzzles concerning the cat protection purchased in these transactions: there is no coverage for the largest, most severe events; and premiums appear well above actuarial value. We demonstrate that both features deviate from what theory would predict, yet are characteristic of many transactions, not simply those of USAA. We then explore a number of possible explanations for the facts. The most compelling are combinations of capital market imperfections and market power on the part of reinsurers. Conclusions for broader capital market and risk management issues are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth A. Froot, 1999. "The Market for Catastrophe Risk: A Clinical Examination," NBER Working Papers 7286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7286
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David M. Cutler & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 1999. "Reinsurance for Catastrophes and Cataclysms," NBER Chapters,in: The Financing of Catastrophe Risk, pages 233-274 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Kenneth A. Froot, 1999. "Introduction to "The Financing of Catastrophe Risk"," NBER Chapters,in: The Financing of Catastrophe Risk, pages 1-22 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Dwight M. Jaffee & Thomas Russell, 1996. "Catastrophe Insurance, Capital Markets and Uninsurable Risks," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 96-12, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
    4. Mayers, David & Smith, Clifford W, Jr, 1983. "The Interdependence of Individual Portfolio Decisions and the Demand for Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 304-311, April.
    5. Kenneth A. Froot, 1999. "The Financing of Catastrophe Risk," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number froo99-1, January.
    6. Lee, Charles M C & Shleifer, Andrei & Thaler, Richard H, 1991. " Investor Sentiment and the Closed-End Fund Puzzle," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(1), pages 75-109, March.
    7. Froot, Kenneth A. (ed.), 1999. "The Financing of Catastrophe Risk," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226266237.
    8. Neil A. Doherty & Clifford W. Smith, 1993. "Corporate Insurance Strategy: The Case Of British Petroleum," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 6(3), pages 4-15.
    9. Froot, Kenneth A. & O'Connell, Paul G.J., 2008. "On the pricing of intermediated risks: Theory and application to catastrophe reinsurance," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 69-85, January.
    10. Doherty, Neil A & Schlesinger, Harris, 1983. "The Optimal Deductible for an Insurance Policy When Initial Wealth Is Random," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(4), pages 555-565, October.
    11. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1997. " The Limits of Arbitrage," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 35-55, March.
    12. Gur Huberman & David Mayers & Clifford W. Smith Jr., 1983. "Optimal Insurance Policy Indemnity Schedules," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 415-426, Autumn.
    13. Anne Gron, 1994. "Capacity Constraints and Cycles in Property-Casualty Insurance Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(1), pages 110-127, Spring.
    14. Paul Kleindorfer & Howard Kunreuther, 1999. "Challenges Facing the Insurance Industry in Managing Catastrophic Risks," NBER Chapters,in: The Financing of Catastrophe Risk, pages 149-194 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Froot, Kenneth A & Scharfstein, David S & Stein, Jeremy C, 1993. " Risk Management: Coordinating Corporate Investment and Financing Policies," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(5), pages 1629-1658, December.
    16. Mayers, David & Smith, Clifford W, Jr, 1982. "On the Corporate Demand for Insurance," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 281-296, April.
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    JEL classification:

    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies

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