Parametrics and Nat Cat

floodI participated on the SRS webinar recently about using a captive program for natural catastrophe risks (Nat Cat) and found it quite interesting. Most often, Nat Cat risk is insured with parametric insurance, a type of insurance that does not indemnify the pure loss, but rather issues a set payment upon the occurrence of an objective triggering event, such as an earthquake of a certain magnitude or a hurricane of a specific intensity.  The use of a parametric trigger has been around for some time, but there seems to be growing interest in the tool, especially with the number of natural disasters increasing exponentially every year.

Robert Nusslein, Head, Innovative Risk Solutions Americas, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, effectively described how captives can play a role in parametric insurance.  With insurance markets looking like they are hardening, especially property in natural disaster-prone areas, a new approach needs to be contemplated. As Swiss Re explains, parametric insurance products are linked to reputable, objective third-party sources, which are used to determine an insurance payout. They are designed to provide catastrophe coverage and complement, but not replace, traditional insurance coverage. Using this structure, parametric insurance payouts are quickly determined, easily measured, and effectively eliminate loss adjustment hassles. The proceeds from a parametric insurance payout can be used at the buyer’s full discretion.

Captives can play a variety of roles in this type of scenario.  As Brady Young pointed out, captives allow corporate to transfer risk of its subsidiaries to the parent’s captive insurer. Also, subsidiaries retain risk in their comfort zone and are able to assume it with less negative impact to financial results from Nat Cat or weather events. The captive can assume an appropriate amount of risk, anywhere from 90% to as little as 10%, with a reinsurer behind the captive assuming the balance of risk. Risk can be split in primary and excess layer participations or a percent quota share participation between captive and reinsurer. Reinsurers provide underwriting, structure and pricing expertise for parametric Nat Cat covers and third-party arm’s length pricing verification for the captive and its regulator.

All of this helps captive owners capture some of the benefits of parametric insurance, such as breadth of coverage, speed of loss payments, and supplemental coverage to traditional insurance.  And with the growing risk from natural catastrophes due to climate change, it is important for captive owners to be ready!

Thank you very much, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith,
VCIA President