The time-honored principle of diversification used in many areas of financial management applies equally well to reinsurance placements. From the ancient days of river commerce in China, where merchants divided their cargo between barges to avoid total loss, diversification has been a key principle of insurance and later reinsurance markets. Given the current financial turmoil in reinsurance markets, there is a legitimate pressure from investors, top management, and the rating agencies for cedents to seek only the highest rated of reinsuring partners. But this worthy objective needs to be balanced with the diversification principle, so that cedents can reduce their probability of zero recovery, as demonstrated in the above analysis.
This series is limited to consideration of diversification among a panel of reinsurers. Cedents also have options to diversify to other forms of risk transfer, notably risk securitization. In particular, catastrophe bonds as currently structured may reduce the credit risk practically to zero, because they mandate a full collateralization of the limit at risk.
Review the articles in the Reinsurer Diversification series:
- Sean Mooney, Chief Economist