A couple of weeks ago, David Cummins (here) was giving a talk in Laval University. And we’ve seen a series of extremely interesting graphs and figures about catastrophe reinsurance market, as well as Cat Bonds prices. The first one was the rate one line index for catastrophe reinsurance (the *rate on line* is the excess of loss premium expressed as a percentage of the *reinsurance* cover), from Guy Carpenter (2010, page 10 here).

Following hurricane Andrew in 1992, prices went up quite high. But following hurricane Katrina (which is, so far, the most costly insured disaster following the second World War, with a cost exceeding 70 billions US$ – 2008 $ – while Andrew was *only* 24 billions – again 2008 $), the bump is much smaller. I though cycles where much larger in the reinsurance industry.

Then there was a discussion about cat bond pricing, with a graph from Lane Financial (2010, page 13, here) with the ratio premium over expected loss

This is extremely interesting, even if it is only about cat bond, and not about reinsurance covers. Usually, when we introduce premium principles in actuarial courses, we start with the *pure premium*, i.e.

Then we explain that with such a price, ruin probability is certain (with an infinite time horizon), so we need to add a safety margin, and a standard idea (but that can be criticized since the expected value has – usually – nothing to do with the variability) is to add a loading proportional to the pure premium. Then the premium is

For small risks, like motor insurance, the loading is not huge. Actually, if risks have finite variance, it can be obtained simply using the central limit theorem (but I’ll get back on that point in a couple of weeks). Here, we see that loading can be large (up to 400% in 2009).

An finally an updated graph with a comparison between BB corporate bondscoupon, and BB catastrophe bonds coupon,

(I guess the source is again Morton Lane). I found surprising the recent gap (following Katrina) between the two spreads. I guess financial market started to be scared and understood that catastrophes are not that rare…. I wonder what 2008 and 2009 prices looked like.

Just a quick comment about the right side of last graph. I guess investors are also more and more keen to go for more exposed business i.e. the low layer high ROL part. There is also a distorsion between ROL and coupon. If ROL is the price for a one shot deal (no reinstatement) then the money at risk is 1-ROL and the coupon (in case of success) is ROL/(1-ROL). This way an investor is receiving 25% coupon for a deal priced at 20% ROL. Hence the attraction for high ROL business!

RESPONSE: thanks for the comment… and I guess you’re right !