A reinsurance section of a new valuation manual that is being developed could make it possible to offer new reinsurance products if comfort can be reached on moving away from rules-based requirements toward a principles-based reserving approach, interviews with National Underwriter show.
But the development of VM-20 is also raising concerns among several key states, including Florida and New York, that there needs to be a comfort level about assumptions that are made and there needs to be an actual risk transfer that takes place, not just an exchange of cash flows.
The Valuation Manual is an actuarial roadmap that will be used to enact principles-based reserving should that model system be adopted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., and enacted by states.
Actuaries at the American Academy of Actuaries, Washington, and many regulators believe that PBR will reduce redundant reserves and that VM-20 could change the way reinsurance is offered.
Currently, some states will not recognize reinsurance credit when all benefits within a policy are not ceded, according to Sheldon Summers, a California regulator who chairs the Academy’s Life Reinsurance Work Group. For instance, at least in some states, the reinsurance of only the secondary guarantee benefit within a universal life policy would be considered to be non- compliant with the risk transfer regulation.
If there is a liberalization of risk transfer rules, then it would be possible for reinsurers to offer more customized treaties, Summers says. He explains that some provisions that currently would not satisfy risk transfer rules would be modeled under PBR and reflected in the reserve calculation, and other provisions that are either difficult to model or which present public policy concerns would, under PBR, be subject to prescribed modeling assumptions. So, for example, if a treaty includes a provision allowing a reinsurer to terminate the treaty because of a rating downgrade on the part of the ceding company, then the ceding company’s reserve calculation would assume the rating downgrade occurs immediately if such an assumption would result in higher reserves.
When asked about the impact of PBR on reinsurance, Summers responded: “On the one hand, I would expect less need for treaties or securitization transactions that offer relief from redundant reserves. But on the other hand, if risk transfer rules are relaxed or eliminated, then the added flexibility will result in an increase in reinsurance treaties.”
The current exposure of PBR would change the risk transfer rules under current law as well as the NAIC’s accounting practices and procedures manual, according to Tom Campbell, vice president and corporate actuary with Hartford Life, Hartford, Conn., and vice president-life insurance issues with the Academy.
The current rules-based requirements are structured so that a direct writer either gets a full reinsurance reserve credit for treaties or no reserve credit, he says.
PBR requires modeling of risks associated with business and measures a company’s risk management practices, Campbell says.
But, he continues, there is currently discomfort among some regulators over how modeling will be done and over whether there will actually be transfer of risk. If specific issues can be identified, the Academy can work on alleviating concerns, he adds. Campbell says that disclosure may be one way to help lessen concern.
The modeling contemplated by PBR would reflect cash flow in which the ceding company pays premium and the reinsurer pays a claim, he explains.
The difference between projected claims and expenses, and the assets and cash flow available to pay claims would be the required reserves, Campbell says.