Insurance Risk study - Sixth edition 2011

Rating agencies, regulators and investors today are demanding that insurers provide detailed assessments of their risk tolerance and quantify the adequacy of their economic capital. To complete such assessments requires a credible baseline for underwriting volatility. The Insurance Risk Study provides our clients with an objective and data-driven set of underwriting volatility benchmarks by line of business and country as well as correlations by line and country. These benchmarks are a valuable resource to CROs, actuaries, and other economic capital modeling professionals who seek reliable parameters for their models.


Modern portfolio theory for assets teaches that increasing the number of stocks in a portfolio will diversify and reduce the portfolio's risk, but will not eliminate risk completely; the systemic market risk remains. This is illustrated in the left chart below. In the same way, insurers can reduce underwriting volatility by increasing account volume, but they cannot reduce their volatility to zero. A certain level of systemic insurance risk will always remain, due to factors such as the underwriting cycle, macroeconomic trends, legal changes and weather (right chart below). The Study calculates this systemic risk by line of business and country. The Naïve Model shows the relationship between risk and volume using a Poisson assumption for claim count - a textbook actuarial approach. The Study clearly shows that this assumption does not fit with empirical data for any line of business in any country. It will underestimate underwriting risk if used in an ERM model.