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Improving risk allocation through cat bonds


  • Nell, Martin
  • Richter, Andreas


Catastrophe bonds (cat bonds) often use index triggers, such as, for instance, parametric descriptions of a catastrophe. This implies the problem of the so-called basis risk, resulting from the fact that, in contrast to traditional reinsurance, this kind of coverage cannot be a perfect hedge for the primary's insured portfolio. On the other hand, cat bonds offer some very attractive economic features: Besides their usefulness as a solution to the problems of moral hazard and default risk, an important advantage of cat bonds can be seen in presumably lower risk premiums compared to (re)insurance products. Cat bonds are only weakly correlated with market risk, implying that in perfect financial markets these securities could be traded at a price including just small risk premiums. Furthermore, there is empirical evidence that risk aversion of reinsurers is an important reason for high reinsurance prices. In this paper we introduce a simple model that enables us to analyze cat bonds and reinsurance as substitutional risk management tools in a standard insurance demand theory environment. We concentrate on the problem of basis risk versus reinsurers' risk aversion and show that the availability of cat bonds affects the structure of an optimal reinsurance contract as well as the reinsurance budget. Primarily, reinsurance is substituted by index-linked coverage for large losses.

Suggested Citation

  • Nell, Martin & Richter, Andreas, 2002. "Improving risk allocation through cat bonds," Working Papers on Risk and Insurance 10, University of Hamburg, Institute for Risk and Insurance.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:hzvwps:10

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    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. Greenwald, Bruce C & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1990. "Asymmetric Information and the New Theory of the Firm: Financial Constraints and Risk Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 160-165, May.
    4. 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.
    5. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
    6. Cummins, J. David & Lalonde, David & Phillips, Richard D., 2004. "The basis risk of catastrophic-loss index securities," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 77-111, January.
    7. Kenneth A. Froot, 1997. "The Limited Financing of Catastrophe Risk: An Overview," NBER Working Papers 6025, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Kenneth A. Froot, 1999. "The Financing of Catastrophe Risk," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number froo99-1, January.
    9. Doherty, Neil A & Dionne, Georges, 1993. "Insurance with Undiversifiable Risk: Contract Structure and Organizational Form of Insurance Firms," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 187-203, April.
    10. Froot, Kenneth A. (ed.), 1999. "The Financing of Catastrophe Risk," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226266237.
    11. J. David Cummins & Neil A. Doherty & Anita Lo, 1999. "Can Insurers Pay for the "Big One"? Measuring the Capacity of an Insurance Market to Respond to Catastrophic Losses," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 98-11, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
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    More about this item


    Insurance; Financial Markets; Decision Making and Risk;

    JEL classification:

    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty


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