Underwriting risks in property and casualty reinsurance


Risk management in property and casualty reinsurance has defined various overall guidelines for efficient risk steering. These include, among other things, the limited use of retrocessions to reduce volatility and conserve capital. It is also crucially important to consistently maximise the available risk capacities on the basis of the risk management parameters of the Hannover Re Group and to steer the acceptance of risks systematically through the existing central and local underwriting guidelines. Our conservative reserving level is a crucial factor in our risk management. We make a fundamental distinction between risks that result from business operations of past years (reserve risk) and those stemming from activities in the current or future years (price / premium risk). In the latter case, special importance attaches to the catastrophe risk. Diversification within the Property & Casualty reinsurance business group is actively managed through allocation of the cost of capital according to the contribution made to diversification. A high diversification effect arises out of the underwriting of business in different lines and different regions with different business partners.

The reserve risk, i. e. the risk of under-reserving losses and the resulting strain on the underwriting result, is the overriding priority in our risk management. We attach the utmost importance to a conservative reserving level and therefore traditionally have a high confidence level. In order to counter the risk of under-reserving we calculate our loss reserves based on our own actuarial estimations and establish, where necessary, additional reserves supplementary to those posted by our cedants as well as the segment reserve for losses that have already occurred but have not yet been reported to us.

Statistical run-off triangles are another monitoring tool used by our company. They show the changes in the reserve over time as a consequence of paid claims and in the recalculation of the reserves to be established as at each balance sheet date. Their adequacy is monitored using actuarial methods.

In order to partially hedge inflation risks Hannover Re has taken out inflation swaps (USD and EUR zero coupon swaps) and invested in inflation-linked instruments that protect parts of the loss reserves against inflation risks. An inflation risk exists particularly inasmuch as the liabilities (e. g. loss reserves) could develop differently than assumed at the time when the reserve was constituted because of inflation. Since 2012 we have also increasingly obtained parts of the inflation protection for our loss reserves by purchasing bonds with inflation-linked coupons and redemption amounts.

Licensed scientific simulation models, supplemented by the expertise of our own specialist departments, are used to assess our material catastrophe risks from natural hazards (especially earthquake, windstorm and flood). Furthermore, we establish the risk to our portfolio from various scenarios in the form of probability distributions. The monitoring of the risks resulting from natural hazards is rounded out by realistic extreme loss scenarios. Within the scope of this process, the Executive Board defines the risk appetite for natural perils once a year on the basis of the risk strategy by specifying the portion of the economic capital that is available to cover risks from natural perils. This is a key basis for our underwriting approach in this segment. As part of our holistic approach to risk management across business groups, we take into account numerous relevant scenarios and extreme scenarios, determine their effect on portfolio and performance data, evaluate them in relation to the planned figures and identify alternative courses of action. For the purposes of risk limitation, maximum amounts are also stipulated for various extreme loss scenarios and return periods in light of profitability criteria. Adherence to these limits is continuously verified by Group Risk Management. The Risk Committee, Executive Board and Property and Casualty Executive Committee are kept regularly updated on the degree of capacity utilisation.

The price / premium risk lies primarily in the possibility of a random claims realisation that diverges from the claims expectancy on which the premium calculation was based. Regular and independent reviews of the models used for treaty quotation as well as central and local underwriting guidelines are vital management components. We have put in place a multi-step quotation process to ensure the quality of our portfolios. In addition, Hannover Re’s regional and treaty departments prepare regular reports on the progress of their respective renewals. The reporting in this regard makes reference inter alia to significant changes in conditions, risks (such as inadequate premiums) as well as to emerging market opportunities and the strategy pursued in order to accomplish targets. The development of the combined ratio in property and casualty reinsurance is shown in the table below:

Combined and catastrophe loss ratio
Combined ratio (property and casualty reinsurance)95.794.794.995.8104.398.296.695.499.7100.8112.8
Thereof catastrophe losses23.