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Reinsurance for Natural and Man-Made Catastrophes in the United States: Current State of the Market and Regulatory Reforms

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U.S. insurers are heavily dependent on global reinsurance markets to enable them to provide adequate primary market insurance coverage. This article reviews the response of the world's reinsurance industry to recent mega-catastrophes and provides recommendations for regulatory reforms that would improve the efficiency of reinsurance markets. The article also considers the supply of insurance and reinsurance for terrorism and makes recommendations for joint public–private responses to insuring terrorism losses. The analysis shows that reinsurance markets responded efficiently to recent catastrophe losses and that substantial amounts of new capital enter the reinsurance industry very quickly following major catastrophic events. Considerable progress has been made in improving risk and exposure management, capital allocation, and rate of return targeting. Insurance price regulation for catastrophe-prone lines of business is a major source of inefficiency in insurance and reinsurance markets. Deregulation of insurance prices would improve the efficiency of insurance markets, enabling markets to deal more effectively with mega-catastrophes. The current inadequacy of the private terrorism reinsurance market suggests that the federal government may need to remain involved in this market, at least for the next several years.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6296.2007.00115.x

Affiliations: J. David Cummins works at Fox School of Business and Management, Temple University, 482 Ritter Annex, 1301 Cecil B. Moore Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19122; phone: 215-204-8468, 610-520-9792;, Fax: 610-520-9790, Email: cummins@temple.edu.

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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