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Homeowners’ Financial Protection Against Natural Disasters
Over the past few years, many people in the U.S. have had to deal with damage to their homes from natural disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey. This article explains the different kinds of financial protection from natural catastrophes that homeowners can access from the private and public sectors.
Bank Exposure to Commercial Real Estate and the Covid-19 Pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic had an immediate and substantial impact on the commercial real estate (CRE) market—emptying workplaces, shopping centers, and hotels, thus affecting the cash flows of businesses occupying commercial space and in turn the ability of commercial space owners to meet their debt obligations.Delinquent CRE loans began to surface soon after the pandemic started and remain elevated in 2021. Broad loan delinquencies would represent a potential threat to bank capitalization and solvency, particularly for smaller banks that tend to have higher concentrations in CRE lending. ...
Rules and Discretion in Life Insurance Regulation
In this Chicago Fed Letter, we illustrate how regulators have used rule-based and principle-based approaches to set the minimum level of reserves and capital for insurers. We use examples to show the trend toward more principle-based regulation.
Do Insurers in Catastrophe-Prone Regions Buy Enough Reinsurance?
To protect themselves from catastrophic losses, insurance companies buy insurance, in the same way that people do. These contracts are called reinsurance agreements, and come in two main forms: proportional and nonproportional contracts. In proportional reinsurance contracts, a reinsurer agrees to repay a fixed proportion of losses incurred by the primary insurer. The simplicity of the agreement makes these types of contracts inexpensive and easy to administer. Therefore, they can be ideal risk-management tools for small insurance companies.
Capital Constraints and Risk Shifting: An Instrumental Approach
When firms approach distress, whether they engage in asset substitution (risk shifting) or rebuild equity (risk management) may depend on their access to capital markets. The property-casualty insurance industry has two features that make it ideal for testing this hypothesis: (1) the main losses for insurers are exogenous events like hurricanes that provide a strong instrument for financial distress; and (2) many insurers are organized as mutual companies, which cannot issue stock. Consistent with the importance of capital constraints, stock companies issue new equity following a negative ...
How Much Risk Do Variable Annuity Guarantees Pose to Life Insurers?
Over the past two decades, guarantees that protect variable annuities? balances when their underlying investments perform poorly have become quite popular. Collectively, these guarantees can pose a sizable risk to life insurers. This article explores the different types of variable annuity guarantees, the extent of the risk they pose to insurers, and the practices used by insurers to mitigate against such risk.