November 28th, 2009

Capital Modeling in the Age of Systemic Risk, Story Index

Posted at 1:00 AM ET

Part I: Hidden risks lurk in nearly every insurance portfolio. Unexpected accumulations, correlated threats and unimagined financial market developments can take shape quickly and severely. When disaster strikes — either because of a storm or an economic shift - insured and asset losses can drain balance sheets, impair return on equity (ROE) performance and destroy shareholder value. The cost of systemic and hidden risks can impact every link in an insurer’s financial supply chain, with today’s losses causing capital costs to rise for months, even years.

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Part II: To derive the greatest benefit from an ERM investment, risk management by metrics becomes essential. Every risk assumption, retention or transfer decision must be analyzed using the holistic model to determine whether it is shareholder value-accretive. A rigorous, disciplined capital modeling effort will help a carrier move confidently by supporting strategic decisions with an objective, quantitative foundation.

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Part III: The net impact of prudent capital modeling and management — in regards to both rating agency evaluation and regulatory compliance — is a competitive advantage. (Re)insurers that accept the outcomes of rating agency or standard regulatory calculations may wind up either with gaps in cover (where de facto approaches are insufficient to address a carrier’s risks) or unproductive capital (where the norm requires over-allocation). The use of an internal capital model, on the other hand, allows a carrier to optimize its analysis to its own situation, with more accurate results and more informed decision-making.

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Part IVEven in the early stages of ERM and economic capital modeling, progress continues. Investments are being made in better risk identification methods and more resilient ERM structures. Capital modeling technology is advancing as well, including better coverage of asset-side risks. With property-catastrophe modeling fairly well established, attention is now turning to casualty catastrophes — a far tougher modeling challenge, as the dimensions of correlation are broader and more complex. Economic bubbles expand and burst with greater frequency and severity.

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This article is intended for general information only. The information is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such. Statements concerning accounting, legal, regulatory or tax matters should be understood to be general observations based solely on the author’s experience in the reinsurance industry, and may not be relied upon as accounting, legal, regulatory or tax advice which he is not authorized to provide. All such matters should be reviewed with your own qualified advisors in these areas.

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