Pricing Risk Transfer Transactions

Morton N. Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Should the pricing of reinsurance catastrophes be related to the price of the default risk embedded in corporate bonds? If not, why not? A risk is a risk is a risk, in whatever market it appears. Shouldn't the risk-prices in these different markets be comparable? More basically perhaps, how should reinsurance prices and bond prices be set? How does the market currently set them? These questions are central to the inquiry contained in this paper. Avoiding unnecessary suspense, our answers are: Yes, cat prices should be related to credit prices because both risks contain a characteristic trade-off between the frequency of and severity of adverse events. We leave the question of how prices should be set to others and focus on the empirical question of how they have been set by the markets. In the process, we develop a fairly robust pricing mechanism and explore its potential uses in many different contexts. The 1999 Insurance-Linked Securities (ILS) market (a.k.a., Cat Bond market) provides the empirical springboard to the discussion. The ILS market is only 4 years old. As such, it represents a new and unique intersection of reinsurance and financial markets. It provides a wonderful laboratory for exploring risk-pricing. The ILS market, still in its experimental phase, appears to require more generous (cheap) pricing of insurance risk than does the bond market of default risk. So much so that academics have begun to weigh in on the question of why. Previously, insurance pricing discussions had been confined to practicing insurance professionals, particularly actuaries. For finance professionals, insurance pricing, much less reinsurance pricing, seldom made the index of their financial texts – though even that is beginning to change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-293
Number of pages35
JournalASTIN Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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