Essentially, reinsurance is insurance that enables an insurance company to pass on part of its own insurance liability to other companies. This is done in order to insulate the insurance company from major claims.
Traditionally, reinsurance was used by insurers to shore up capital, protect against high severity claims, and meet rating agencies' requirements. However, in the last 30 years, the use of reinsurance has shifted from proportional to nonproportional. The shift has resulted in more liquid assets being made available for insurers. Moreover, reinsurance is also a means of increasing an insurance company's underwriting capacity. This is accomplished through a contract known as a treaty.
In a treaty, an insurer agrees to cede all risks to a reinsurer. This is done for a specific period of time and is usually written on a pro rata basis. The ceding company and the reinsurer will agree on the type of risks that will be covered in the contract. This can be a single risk or a group of risks. There are two main types of treaties.
The first type of treaty is a proportional treaty. This is a contractual agreement that assigns a predetermined percentage of business to a reinsurer. The reinsurer then accepts all the cessions within that percentage. This gives the ceding company a better understanding of the risks they are covering and allows the reinsurance company to more effectively manage its underwriting.
Another type of treaty is a non-proportional treaty. This is a contractual arrangement that is more flexible and allows the reinsurer to accept more risks. In this type of agreement, the reinsurer must pay out a certain percentage of any claim that exceeds the retention amount. This is similar to the surplus clause in a quota-share treaty. The main difference is that the sum insured for a non-proportional treaty is lower than for a quota-share treaty.
A facultative reinsurance deal is a type of reinsurance that is specifically tailored to meet a particular set of circumstances. It is usually purchased by an insurance underwriter who wrote the original policy. These contracts are often negotiated separately for each policy. They are typically written for hazardous or high-value risks.
A "right to associate" clause is a common feature in these contracts. The "right to associate" clause grants the reinsurer the right to advise the cedent in the handling of claims. This can be very useful in a facultative reinsurance deal. A common reinsurance law is the "follow the settlements" doctrine, which requires the reinsurer to cover settlements that were made in good faith. This enables the reinsurance company to cover large losses that are not otherwise underwritten.
Another common nonproportional treaty is the excess of loss. In this type of agreement, the reinsurer pays out a percentage of any loss that exceeds the retention amount. This is different from the "excess of loss" in a quota-share treaty.
Treaty reinsurance is an effective way for insurance companies to increase their underwriting capabilities and to free up capital. It is less transactional than a quota-share deal and allows an insurer to take on more risks, which is particularly beneficial for companies that do not have economies of scale. This kind of reinsurance is also less likely to be rejected.
ACA's "subsidy cliff" has diminished the need for reinsurance
Until recently, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) had a "subsidy cliff" that lasted until a household's income reached 400% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL). The cliff is the point where a person loses eligibility for subsidies, and the subsidy stops completely. During this time, the premium for the lowest-priced health insurance plan is out of reach for many people. However, this problem is now lessened, as the ACA introduced state-based reinsurance programs, which allow insurers to lower premiums in some markets. These state-based programs were created in seven states, and they have been shown to decrease individual market premiums.
Before the American Rescue Plan (ARP), a reinsurance program was not required, but was intended to provide temporary relief from soaring premiums in the individual market. Reinsurance programs work by offloading some of the high costs of enrollee claims to the government. This method can reduce overall claims costs to insurance carriers, as well as the premiums for all enrolled people.
Although the reinsurance program was designed to hold down soaring premiums in the individual market, it was also designed to address the issue of affordability. Under the ACA, individuals can receive federal tax credits to offset the cost of their bronze level health insurance plans. If the tax credit is extended to a household earning 800% of the FPL, the total premium paid for a silver level plan will be reduced to ten percent of the household's income. If the ACA subsidy is extended to a household earning 100-1320% of the FPL, the premium for a silver level plan will be reduced by two percent.
The reinsurance program was not available to all households, however. It was designed to help lower premiums in the early years of the reforms. For example, in the Minnesota individual market, reinsurance has helped keep the average premium for a plan at 20 percent lower than before the program was introduced. In addition, the individual mandate has decreased the rates by 9.3 percent.
Reinsurance programs are also aimed at decreasing overall premiums for those who do not qualify for federal tax subsidies. The theory is that if the unsubsidized population can be reduced, the reinsurance pool can reduce the net cost of premiums. A state-based reinsurance program allows insurers to lower premiums by pulling out a portion of the highest costs from the general community risk pool. This is in exchange for a corresponding amount of money that is redistributed to the insurance carriers.
Aside from the reinsurance program, there are several other avenues to address affordability. One is to extend Medicaid eligibility to all households. Another option is to allow premium subsidies for condition management plans. These are plans that are customized to a person's medical needs. Depending on the state, these plans can be either non-ACA compliant or ACA compliant. Some of these plans are available on the exchange, while others are not.
Nonproportional vs proportional reinsurance
Compared with proportional reinsurance, nonproportional reinsurance can limit a reinsurer's risk, but it may also result in higher losses. This type of reinsurance only pays out when the total claims exceed the reinsurance retention. It is also called excess of loss reinsurance. This is used when a ceding insurer agrees to accept all losses up to a specified level, but only reimburses the reinsurer for any losses above that amount.
For example, an insurer may purchase a layer of reinsurance for $4 million. The reinsurer is responsible for calculating its liability based on aggregate claims incurred by the ceding company. The reinsurer's premiums are calculated independently of the premiums charged to the insured. This type of reinsurance is usually found in proportional treaties.
Another common type of nonproportional reinsurance is stop loss reinsurance. This type of reinsurance involves a loss deductible. The deductible decreases with an increase in risk aversion. The reinsurance contract is set by the lead reinsurer. In some cases, the reinsurance company may retrocede the reinsurance to other companies.
In proportional reinsurance, a company's portfolio is protected by a shared burden of written risks. In this type of reinsurance, the reinsurer and the ceding company have a post-transfer relationship. The reinsurer receives a predetermined percentage of the premiums paid by the insurer. This can be offset by a division of risk or a Cat component.
A reinsurance contract may be written for a specific period of time or for a continuous basis. The terms of the contract are agreed upon and usually provide for automatic renewal. Normally, the term is based on the occurrence of a predefined number of events or business classes. Some proportional treaties include a Cat component, which shares the risk between the reinsurer and the ceding insurer.
The difference between proportional and nonproportional reinsurance lies in the distribution of risk. When a reinsurance contract is chosen, the insurer must decide whether it is willing to take the risk. The profit mark-on of the reinsurer affects the purchase decision. The higher the profit mark-on, the more risk averse the insurer is. The lower the profit mark-on, the more risk neutral the insurer is. This means that an insurer wants to release more risk to the cessionary.
The angle bisector is the dividing line between the two halves of the risk preference space. It represents the combination of risk aversion and risk neutrality. It is the boundary between contract taking and rejection. It can also be used as a general guide for determining the optimal deductible for an insurer.
Reinsurance agreements are often used by companies to leverage their capital. They are also used to lessen the impact of losses. This strengthens the insurance company's financial position. In addition, companies often use the income generated from reinsurance agreements as investment capital. Professional reinsurance companies offer advice and assistance to their clients. They can also offer investment and management advice.