When the unexpected happens such as the September 11 tragedy of the twin towers, insurance companies are overwhelmed by claims which they have no way of paying and are thus forced into bankruptcy! This is where reinsurance comes in handy; the insurance company will insure itself against such extraordinary situations, which they may not be able to handle. But the extent of the tragedy was such that many small reinsurance agencies were forced into bankruptcy! State or federal governments have to create programs to assume responsibility for the bulk of these claims.
Basics of Reinsurance:
Reinsurance refers to the way one insurance company agrees, for a certain premium paid, to take responsibility and reimburse another insurer against all or part of the losses. The company seeking insurance is termed as the ceding insurer and the one offering a cover is called a reinsure. This arrangement makes sure that no insurance entity faces a financial burden that it has no means to repay. Reinsurance can be purchased for the life or for a particular period such as for a year etc.
Insurance companies in general go for aggregate stop-loss reinsurance or excess-of-loss reinsurance. When the aggregate losses for a group are well above some expected level, the insurance carrier would not have set a premium high enough to cover the losses. That is when aggregate stop-loss reinsurance is useful for them. Companies that have a self-insurance health plan as well as insurance companies use excess-of-loss reinsurance when the expenses of an individual exceeded certain set limits.
Before companies go for reinsurance they have to carefully analyze if they need reinsurance, what type of reinsurance is appropriate for them, the level of reinsurance needed, and who to get it from. They need reinsurance in case of natural calamities such as tsunamis, floods, tornado, hurricanes, fire, earthquake, or man made tragedy like September 11 strike of the twin towers. They may use it to even out claim patterns as they may peak unexpectedly at times. It also helps insurance companies absorb higher losses as well as issue more policies. Ceding companies may assume greater risk than is possible considering their size, offering policyholders larger limits of coverage than possible with its own capital. Risk transfer is the main reason why several insurance companies opt for reinsurance.
Reinsurance reduces the capital needed to provide coverage, helps increase surplus as it reduces the amount of net liability. Insurance companies function better, knowing that they are covered, in case the unthinkable happens and the companies face a multitude of claims at the same time. Since the September 11 tragedy reinsurance has assumed a greater significance as also reinsurance companies are seeking ways to protect themselves from facing bankruptcy as many reinsurance firms did due to the tragedy.
There are firms that offer new business with their services and products to help them function better.