There is a great deal of overlap between the goals of government regulators and credit rating agencies. The difference, however, is in the output, with regulators providing a license to trade, or not, and the rating agencies offering a graduated scale of relative strength. Regulatory solvency approval can be viewed as a “qualifier” or minimum standard required to be considered by a customer. A credit rating, on the other hand, can act as a “winner” or differentiating factor that results in a successful sale.
Posts Tagged ‘solvency’
Current capital requirements in the United States are set at a legal-entity level. Yet there are currently no global requirements for companies that operate in more than one country, and calculation formulas for capital requirements typically vary in each jurisdiction. Solvency II is the closest to mandating a group standard. Solvency II uses the concept of “equivalence” to deal with differing capital regimes between the European Union and the rest of the world including the United States, instead of forcing Solvency II standards on a third country.
Addressing Own Risk and Solvency Assessment/Enterprise Risk Management and Insurance Capital Standard Globally
In accordance with the objectives of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and European Insurance and Occupational Pension Authority (EIOPA), Own Risk and Solvency Assessment (ORSA) is “people and risk-centric,” primarily employing a principles-based approach, as opposed to a rules-based approach. This means that decisions on matters related to risks are largely based on the judgment of individuals relying on underlying facts, as opposed to decisions being made mostly by following intricate sets of rules. This is similar to the principles-based approach taken by International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Although the calculation of the Solvency Capital Requirements (SCR) under Solvency II is rules based, like Insurance Capital Standard (ICS), Solvency II can be a “one size fits all” rules-based approach to capital, especially if the standard formula is used. (Re)insurers will need to find a way to incorporate ICS into their ORSA processes and the vehicle to accomplish this may be through the internal model.
There is very little doubt that (re)insurers face and will continue to face growing regulation and scrutiny both domestically and internationally. Therefore, (re)insurers should seek the most effective and efficient way to meet the growing demands of increased global regulation. What follows below is a brief discussion of the overlap of some of these new global regulatory requirements and thoughts on how (re)insurers might go about approaching them.
The China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) is instituting sweeping changes through its three-tiered China Risk Oriented Solvency System (C-ROSS) framework that will dramatically impact how (re)insurers conduct business. It will strengthen capital requirements, risk management and transparency disclosures - bringing China in line with, and in some cases overtaking, global standards. The C-ROSS framework is similar to Solvency II: three tiers focusing on quantitative, qualitative and disclosure requirements.
Other countries, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, have instituted rules that may, conversely, impede the development of a healthy, profitable insurance market. The Indonesian regulator’s recent steps to reduce capital outflows, with a focus on reinsurance premiums ceded to international reinsurers, remain highly debated and will be explored in greater detail later. The Philippines, in addition to a risk-based capital (RBC) framework, has instituted a minimum paid-up capital requirement (starting in 2006 and revised in 2013) that increases every two years and will result in a PHP2 billion (approximately USD44 million) minimum threshold in 2020. This will put minimum capital levels in the Philippines well above those of more developed markets, including Australia, Japan and Singapore. The policy applies uniformly across the industry regardless of premium volume, line of business or geographic scope and therefore its impact is more strongly felt by smaller carriers that will most likely be forced out of the market or into the arms of larger players. The Philippines Insurer and Reinsurer Association (PIRA) has been outspoken against the minimum capital requirement and stated a preference for a standalone RBC metric.
Asia Pacific is a diverse mix of countries encompassing nearly one-third of the earth’s landmass and more than one half of its population. Given the broad spectrum of economic and regulatory sophistication across the region, the approach to insurance regulation has varied on a country-by-country basis as each regime adapts solvency principles to their own needs and political realities.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has stipulated that “the solvency framework of the U.S. system of state-based Insurance regulation has included a review of the holding company system for decades, with an emphasis placed on each insurance legal entity. In light of the 2008 financial crisis and the globalization of insurance business models, as discussed in this report, U.S. insurance regulators have begun to modify their group supervisory framework and have been increasingly involved in developing an international group supervisory framework (1).”
The regulatory system in the United States has best been described as a national system of state-based regulation consisting of state insurance departments from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five territories (1). Although there have been questions raised about the system and challenges to it over the years, its regulation remained primarily within the purview of the state regulators through the protection afforded under the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945, which expressly provided that “Acts of Congress” that do not expressly purport to regulate the “business of insurance” will not preempt state laws or regulations that regulate the “business of insurance.”
Apart from still open Solvency II third-country equivalence issues, which will be discussed in detail later, European insurance companies struggle with different interpretations of the European Insurance Occupational Pension Authority (EIOPA) guidelines and rules. For example, while sovereign debt is considered risk-free in the Standard Formula, EIOPA recommended in April 2015 that internal model firms need to consider the spread risk of sovereign debt. However, local supervisors have not interpreted this guidance in the same way - the United Kingdom’s Prudential Regulatory Authority, France’s Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et de résolution and Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority are asking their internal model firms to fully risk-weight sovereign bonds at the group level. Other supervisors are proposing a “light” approach of risk-weighting of sovereign debt, while Italy and Spain maintain the position that sovereign bonds should remain risk-free under Pillar 1.