Reinsurance, Bancassurance24th November 2020
Reinsurance is also known as insurance for insurers or stop-loss insurance. Reinsurance is the practice whereby insurers transfer portions of their risk portfolios to other parties by some form of agreement to reduce the likelihood of paying a large obligation resulting from an insurance claim.
The party that diversifies its insurance portfolio is known as the ceding party. The party that accepts a portion of the potential obligation in exchange for a share of the insurance premium is known as the reinsurer.
How Reinsurance Works
Reinsurance allows insurers to remain solvent by recovering some or all amounts paid to claimants. Reinsurance reduces the net liability on individual risks and catastrophe protection from large or multiple losses. The practice also provides ceding companies, those that seek reinsurance, the capacity to increase their underwriting capabilities in terms of the number and size of risks.
Benefits of Reinsurance
By covering the insurer against accumulated individual commitments, reinsurance gives the insurer more security for its equity and solvency by increasing its ability to withstand the financial burden when unusual and major events occur.
Through reinsurance, insurers may underwrite policies covering a larger quantity or volume of risk without excessively raising administrative costs to cover their solvency margins. In addition, reinsurance makes substantial liquid assets available to insurers in case of exceptional losses.
Reinsurance is insurance that an insurance company purchases from another insurance company to insulate itself (at least in part) from the risk of a major claims event. With reinsurance, the company passes on (“cedes”) some part of its own insurance liabilities to the other insurance company. The company that purchases the reinsurance policy is called a “ceding company” or “cedent” or “cedant” under most arrangements. The company issuing the reinsurance policy is referred simply as the “reinsurer”. In the classic case, reinsurance allows insurance companies to remain solvent after major claims events, such as major disasters like hurricanes and wildfires. In addition to its basic role in risk management, reinsurance is sometimes used to reduce the ceding company’s capital requirements, or for tax mitigation or other purposes.
A company that purchases reinsurance pays a premium to the reinsurance company, who in exchange would pay a share of the claims incurred by the purchasing company. The reinsurer may be either a specialist reinsurance company, which only undertakes reinsurance business, or another insurance company. Insurance companies that accept reinsurance refer to the business as ‘assumed reinsurance’.
There are two basic methods of reinsurance:
- Facultative Reinsurance, which is negotiated separately for each insurance policy that is reinsured. Facultative reinsurance is normally purchased by ceding companies for individual risks not covered, or insufficiently covered, by their reinsurance treaties, for amounts in excess of the monetary limits of their reinsurance treaties and for unusual risks. Underwriting expenses, and in particular personnel costs, are higher for such business because each risk is individually underwritten and administered. However, as they can separately evaluate each risk reinsured, the reinsurer’s underwriter can price the contract more accurately to reflect the risks involved. Ultimately, a facultative certificate is issued by the reinsurance company to the ceding company reinsuring that one policy.
- Treaty Reinsurance means that the ceding company and the reinsurer negotiate and execute a reinsurance contract under which the reinsurer covers the specified share of all the insurance policies issued by the ceding company which come within the scope of that contract. The reinsurance contract may obligate the reinsurer to accept reinsurance of all contracts within the scope (known as “obligatory” reinsurance), or it may allow the insurer to choose which risks it wants to cede, with the reinsurer obligated to accept such risks (known as “facultative-obligatory” or “fac oblig” reinsurance).
There are two main types of treaty reinsurance, proportional and non-proportional, which are detailed below. Under proportional reinsurance, the reinsurer’s share of the risk is defined for each separate policy, while under non-proportional reinsurance the reinsurer’s liability is based on the aggregate claims incurred by the ceding office. In the past 30 years there has been a major shift from proportional to non-proportional reinsurance in the property and casualty fields.
Almost all insurance companies have a reinsurance program. The ultimate goal of that program is to reduce their exposure to loss by passing part of the risk of loss to a reinsurer or a group of reinsurers.
With reinsurance, the insurer can issue policies with higher limits than would otherwise be allowed, thus being able to take on more risk because some of that risk is now transferred to the re-insurer.
Reinsurance can make an insurance company’s results more predictable by absorbing large losses. This is likely to reduce the amount of capital needed to provide coverage. The risks are spread, with the reinsurer or reinsurers bearing some of the loss incurred by the insurance company. The income smoothing arises because the losses of the cedant are limited. This fosters stability in claim payouts and caps indemnification costs.
Proportional Treaties (or “pro-rata” treaties) provide the cedent with “surplus relief”; surplus relief being the capacity to write more business and/or at larger limits.
The insurance company may be motivated by arbitrage in purchasing reinsurance coverage at a lower rate than they charge the insured for the underlying risk, whatever the class of insurance.
Bancassurance is an arrangement between a bank and an insurance company allowing the insurance company to sell its products to the bank’s client base. This partnership arrangement can be profitable for both companies. Banks earn additional revenue by selling insurance products, and insurance companies expand their customer bases without increasing their sales force or paying agent and broker commissions.
This partnership arrangement can be profitable for both companies. Banks can earn additional revenue by selling the insurance products, while insurance companies are able to expand their customer base without having to expand their sales forces or pay commissions to insurance agents or brokers. Bancassurance has proved to be an effective distribution channel in a number of countries in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Australia.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Bancassurance
Bancassurance offers many benefits to customers, one of which is convenience. The bank is a one-stop-shop for all financial needs. For the banks and insurance companies, bancassurance increases revenue diversification for the bank and brings greater volume and profit for both players.
These factors are contributing to the growth of bancassurance across the world. The restraining factors of the global bancassurance market are the risks associated with the reputation of banks and the stringent rules and regulations enforced in some regions.
Bancassurance remains prohibited in some countries. However, the global trend is toward the liberalization of banking laws and the opening up of domestic markets to foreign firms.
Business models across the world
‘Integrated models’ is insurance activity deeply integrated with bank’s processes. Premium is usually collected by the bank, usually direct debit from customer’s account held in that bank. New business data entry is done in the bank branches and workflows between the bank and the insurance companies are automated. In most cases, asset management is done by the bank’s asset management subsidiary.
Insurance products are distributed by branch staff, which is sometimes supported by specialised insurance advisers for more sophisticated products or for certain types of clients. Life insurance products are fully integrated in the bank’s range of savings and investment products and the trend is for branch staff to sell a growing number of insurance products that are becoming farther removed from its core business, e.g., protection, health, or non-life products.
Products are mainly medium and long-term tax-advantaged investment products. They are designed specifically for bancassurance channels to meet the needs of branch advisers in terms of simplicity and similarity with banking products. In particular, these products often have a low-risk insurance component.
Bank branches receive commissions for the sale of life insurance products. Part of the commissions can be paid to branch staff as commissions or bonuses based on the achievement of sales targets.
‘Non-integrated Models’: The sale of life insurance products by branch staff has been limited by regulatory constraints since most investment-based products can only be sold by authorised financial advisers who have obtained a minimum qualification.
Banks have therefore set up networks of financial advisers authorised to sell regulated insurance products. They usually operate as tied agents and sell exclusively the products manufactured by the bank’s in-house insurance company or its third-party providers.
A proactive approach is used to generate leads for the financial advisers from the customer base, including through mailings and telesales. There is increasing focus on developing relationships with the large number of customers who rarely or never visit a bank branch.
Financial planners are typically employed by the bank or building society rather than the life company and usually receive a basic salary plus a bonus element based on a combination of factors including sales volumes, persistency, and product mix.
Following the reform of the polarisation regime, banks will have the possibility to become multi-tied distributors offering a range of products from different providers. This has the potential to strengthen the position of bancassurers by allowing them to meet their customers’ needs.