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Customizing Reinsurance and Cat Bonds for Natural Hazard Risks

  • David C. Croson
  • Howard C. Kunreuther
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    This paper has the following two objectives: to examine how reinsurance coupled with new financial instruments can expand coverage to those residing in areas subject to catastrophic losses from natural disasters, and to show how reinsurance and the catastrophe-linked financial instruments can be combined so that the price of protection can be lowered from its current level. To address these two questions we define the key stakeholders and their concerns with respect to catastrophic risks. We then construct a simple example to illustrate the relative advantages and disadvantages of catastrophe bonds and reinsurance in supporting a structure of payments contingent on certain events occurring (e.g. a severe flood in Poland or a major hurricane in Florida). On the basis of this comparison we suggest ways to combine these two instruments to expand coverage to those at risk and reduce the cost of protection. We suggest six principles for designing catastrophic risk transfer systems, and describe how they may be put into practice. The paper concludes by raising a set of questions for future research. The unexpectedly large insured losses from Hurricane Andrew in the Miami, Florida area in 1992 ($15.5 billion) and the Northridge earthquake in California in 1994 ($13.5 billion) has forced the insurance industry to reevaluate whether it can provide coverage to all property in hazard-prone areas against catastrophic losses in the future. New institutions have been created such as windstorm pools in Florida and the California Earthquake Authority (CEA) to supplement or replace traditional reinsurance. At the same time the capital markets have developed new financial instruments such as Act-of God bonds to provide protection against these large losses from natural disasters. To date, these new instruments have only made a small dent in the market for protection against the financial consequences of catastrophic events, although there is the expectation by many that they will play a larger role in the future. Our approach is to examine whether the private market can offer ways to provide financial backing to deal with these risks. More specifically, the private market can provide hedges against catastrophic risks through catastrophe-linked securities, traditional excess-of-loss reinsurance and certain customized reinsurance coverage schemes. This paper has the following two objectives: (1) to examine how reinsurance coupled with new financial instruments can expand coverage to those residing in areas subject to catastrophic losses from natural disasters, and (2) to show how reinsurance and the new financial instruments can be combined so that the price of protection can be lowered from its current level. To address these two questions we begin our analysis by defining the key stakeholders and their concerns with respect to catastrophic risks. We then construct a simple example to illustrate the relative advantages and disadvantages of catastrophe-linked securities and reinsurance in supporting a structure of payments contingent on certain events occurring (e.g. a severe flood in Poland or a major hurricane in Florida). On the basis of this comparison we suggest ways to combine these two instruments to expand coverage to those at risk and reduce the cost of protection. We suggest six principles for designing catastrophic risk transfer systems, and describe how they may be put into practice. The paper concludes by raising a set of questions for future research.

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    File URL: http://fic.wharton.upenn.edu/fic/papers/99/9934.pdf
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    Paper provided by Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania in its series Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers with number 99-34.

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    Date of creation: Jun 1999
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    Handle: RePEc:wop:pennin:99-34
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