Event: Risk-Based Rating in Personal Lines Insurance

Link: https://www.rstreet.org/2022/04/05/event-risk-based-rating-in-personal-lines-insurance/

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The insurance industry is unique in that the cost of its products—insurance policies—is unknown at the time of sale. Insurers calculate the price of their policies with “risk-based rating,” wherein risk factors known to be correlated with the probability of future loss are incorporated into premium calculations. One of these risk factors employed in the rating process for personal automobile and homeowner’s insurance is a credit-based insurance score.

Credit-based insurance scores draw on some elements of the insurance buyer’s credit history. Actuaries have found this score to be strongly correlated with the potential for an insurance claim. The use of credit-based insurance scores by insurers has generated controversy, as some consumer organizations claim incorporating such scores into rating models is inherently discriminatory. R Street’s webinar explores the facts and the history of this issue with two of the most knowledgeable experts on the topic.

Author(s): Jerry Theodorou, Roosevelt Mosley, Mory Katz

Publication Date: 5 April 2022

Publication Site: R Street Institute

Risk-Based Rating in Personal Lines Insurance

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPYSSZkP-Oo&ab_channel=RStreetInstitute

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Description:

The insurance industry is unique in that the cost of its products—insurance policies—is unknown at the time of sale. Insurers calculate the price of their policies with “risk-based rating,” wherein risk factors known to be correlated with the probability of future loss are incorporated into premium calculations. One of these risk factors employed in the rating process for personal automobile and homeowner’s insurance is a credit-based insurance score.

Credit-based insurance scores draw on some elements of the insurance buyer’s credit history. Actuaries have found this score to be strongly correlated with the potential for an insurance claim. The use of credit-based insurance scores by insurers has generated controversy, as some consumer organizations claim incorporating such scores into rating models is inherently discriminatory. R Street’s webinar explores the facts and the history of this issue with two of the most knowledgeable experts on the topic.

Featuring:

[Moderator] Jerry Theodorou, Director, Finance, Insurance & Trade Program, R Street Institute
Roosevelt Mosley, Principal and Consulting Actuary, Pinnacle Actuarial Services
Mory Katz, Legacy Practice Leader, BMS Group

R Street Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization. Our mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government.

We believe free markets work better than the alternatives. We also recognize that the legislative process calls for practical responses to current problems. To that end, our motto is “Free markets. Real solutions.”

We offer research and analysis that advance the goals of a more market-oriented society and an effective, efficient government, with the full realization that progress on the ground tends to be made one inch at a time. In other words, we look for free-market victories on the margin.

Learn more at https://www.rstreet.org/
Follow us on Twitter at @RSI

Author(s): Jerry Theodorou, Roosevelt Mosley, Mory Katz

Publication Date: 4 April 2022

Publication Site: R Street at YouTube

Jerry Theodorou Presents on Social Inflation to the Business Insurance World Captive Forum

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HahkUnXje1A

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R Street Institute Director of Finance, Insurance and Trade Jerry Theodorou presents on social inflation and his latest policy study to the Business Insurance World Captive Forum in Miami in February.

Author(s): Jerry Theodorou

Publication Date: 23 Feb 2022

Publication Site: YouTube and R Street Institute

Insurance Companies – Heels or Heroes?

Link:https://www.rstreet.org/2022/01/24/insurance-companies-heels-or-heroes/

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The insurance industry is far from the economy’s most-admired sector. A Forbes survey found insurance ranking low in popularity in the public eye. Three main reasons are responsible for insurers’ relatively poor rating. First is the intangible nature of the insurance product. Unlike a car one can drive home from the dealership, or a chocolate bar whose taste can be savored, purchase of an insurance policy does not lead to immediate physical gratification. To be sure, if there is no loss, one may never get a flavor of its value. Second, insurance is associated with life’s tragedies, its most physically, emotionally and financially distressing experiences—a home damaged by a storm, a car totaled, being sued, a death or dread disease, or a crippling workplace accident. Insurance payments can take away the sting with financial recovery, but loss remains painful, especially if one discovers the loss is not 100 percent covered. And third, the insurance industry has become an easy target for critics who regularly vilify it.

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Why do we maintain that insurance, R Street’s inaugural research program, is fundamentally exciting? Three reasons.

First, insurance is the economy’s financial first responder. When the wind blows, the earth shakes and large-class action lawsuits are decided in plaintiffs’ favor, the insurance industry pays. 

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Second, insurers are significant investors in the capital markets. They provide much of the financial muscle to power the economy. Property-casualty insurers hold $1.1 trillion in bonds, and life and health insurers hold another $3.6 trillion. Collectively, insurers hold $4.7 trillion in bonds, 10 percent of the U.S. bond market of $47 trillion.

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Third, insurance is the grease in the engine of the economy. Without clinical trials insurance, pharmaceutical companies would not take the risk of developing vaccines. Without ocean marine or inland marine insurance, ships would not sail and trucks would not take the risk to carry loads. Airplanes would not fly, people would be afraid to drive, and inventors would not create new products for fear of lawsuits. 

Author(s): Jerry Theodorou

Publication Date: 22 Jan 2022

Publication Site: R Street

THE SCOURGE OF SOCIAL INFLATION

Link:https://www.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/RSTREET247.pdf

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If unchecked, social inflation, driven by the myriad factors discussed in this study, will become a self-perpetuating phenomenon that sends improper signals regarding the value of damages to jurors, judges and defendants. This will lead to higher insurance premiums, financial strain on insurers, depletion of municipal resources and disincentives for businesses to take risks. This hidden “tort tax” benefits no one except plaintiff attorneys and their clients who engage in practices that lead to social inflation.

There are two broad responses that need to be pursued to combat the perpetuation of social inflationary pressures. One is to influence the development of public policy at the state and federal levels to reveal and control excesses. The second is for insurers and defense counsel to adopt and deploy more aggressive strategies that push back and formally object to tactics violating existing norms of courtroom behavior.

Author(s): Jerry Theodorou

Publication Date: December 2021

Publication Site: R Street

Jerry Theodorou on Natural Disasters and Insurance

Link:https://www.c-span.org/video/?514314-3/washington-journal-jerry-theodorou-discusses-natural-disasters-insurance

Excerpt: [transcript from closed captioning]

Jerry Theodorou
IT IS HARD TO CALCULATE. THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY WAS FACED WITH MASSIVE FLOOD LOSSES BUT FOUND THAT IT DID NOT HAVE THE DATA TO PRICE IT ACCURATELY. IT STARTED REDUCING AND EXCLUDING FLOOD FROM STANDARD INSURANCE POLICIES AND THE GOVERNMENT STEPPED IN TO CREATE THE PROGRAM. TO PROVIDE SOME LEVEL OF FLOOD INSURANCE. THERE IS AN INHERENT TENSION IN THE PROGRAM BECAUSE IT HAS TWO GOALS IN CONTENTION WITH EACH OTHER. THE GOAL TO PROVIDE AFFORDABLE FLOOD INSURANCE AND SOME DEGREE OF FISCAL SOUNDNESS. THEY ARE PAYING ABOUT $400 BILLION IN INTEREST, WHICH IS A BURDEN, SO IF WE FOCUS STRICTLY ON AFFORDABILITY, YOU WILL HAVE UNDERPRICED INSURANCE, NOT PRICED ACCORDING TO THE ACTUAL VOLUME. THIS IS WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW WITH LARGELY IMPACT — OVERPRICED INSURANCE. FOCUSING ON FISCAL SOUNDNESS, YOU WILL HAVE THOSE EXPOSED. IT IS A LITTLE BIT OF A BALANCE. DO YOU WANT FISCAL SOUNDNESS? PROBABLY A LITTLE BIT OF BOTH, WHICH IS MY NEXT MONTH, OCTOBER 1, THE NEW BEATING WILL BE INTRODUCED TO MAKE IT MAKE THE PRICING AND THE COST OF FLOOD INSURANCE MORE APPROPRIATE FOR THE LEVEL OF RISK. IT IS EITHER OR. IF YOU LIVE IN A FLOOD ZONE, YOU PAY HIGHER PREMIUMS. IT IS NOT BLACK-AND-WHITE BECAUSE THERE IS A SPECTRUM FOR THE DEGREE OF RISK. IT WILL INTRODUCE MORE VARIABLES SO THAT IT IS MORE APPROPRIATELY CORRELATED WITH THE LEVEL OF RISK.

Author(s): Jerry Theodorou, John McArdle

Publication Date: 5 Sept 2021

Publication Site: C-SPAN, Washington Journal

The Federal Insurance Office: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Link: https://www.rstreet.org/2021/05/19/the-federal-insurance-office-looking-back-looking-forward/

Full pdf: https://www.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Final-No-231-FIO.pdf

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1) The FIO was created in the wake of the financial crisis, as part of the Dodd-Frank Act. It has since been active on two fronts: as a source of information about the insurance industry for the U.S. Department of the Treasury and other branches of government, and as a representative of the insurance industry in international negotiations.

2) The FIO has had a challenging first decade. Since its launch, insurers have been concerned that the introduction of a new federal body, like all bureaucracies, is the camel’s nose in the tent, which would eventually lead to attempted expansion of its scope. Today, even though many have come to accept the FIO—provided it does not attempt to exceed its authority—there are still efforts to abolish it.

3) In the past, government restrictions of the free market with involvement in insurance have proven inefficient and anticompetitive. Should the FIO advance legislative attempts to address “affordability and accessibility” of insurance, it will likely contribute to the disruption of an efficient private market closely regulated at the state level.

Author(s): Jerry Theodorou

Publication Date: 19 May 2021

Publication Site: R Street Institute

The flood insurance debate returns. Here’s what to expect

Link: https://www.eenews.net/stories/1063731009

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The most comprehensive proposal being floated so far is one from House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).

That discussion draft would extend the program for an additional five years and limit the government’s ability to raise the price of flood insurance amid growing concerns about affordability (E&E Daily, April 14). Current authorization for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is set to expire in five months.

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Jerry Theodorou, director of the finance, insurance and trade program at the R Street Institute, said subsidies mask the real costs of building and living in flood-prone areas and that the Peters-Barr bill would ensure that policyholders aren’t “undercharged.”

Theodorou said the Waters bill instead would kick the can down the road, and he criticized the measure for seeking to cancel the program’s historic $20.5 billion debt.

Author(s): Hannah Northey

Publication Date: 27 April 2021

Publication Site: E&E News

How to keep thousands of COVID-19-related lawsuits from creating a liability crisis

Link: https://www.rstreet.org/2021/03/29/how-to-keep-thousands-of-covid-19-related-lawsuits-from-creating-a-liability-crisis/

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Younger, populist, anti-corporate juries are more prone to make larger awards than baby boomer jury pools. Plaintiff attorneys making good use of the “reptile theory” to provoke jurors to punish defendants painted as dangerous to society have led to staggeringly large verdicts. The combined impact of these trends has led to more and larger lawsuits, as well as year-over-year increases in “nuclear verdicts” — verdicts in excess of $10 million.

Some elements of the COVID-19 litigation torrent fit squarely in Buffet’s meaning of social inflation: expansion of what insurance policies cover. To be sure, the plurality of the 10,000 coronavirus suits filed involve insurance coverage litigation, with plaintiffs seeking coverage for business losses in policies where insurers maintain coverage does not exist.

Author(s): Jerry Theodorou

Publication Date: 29 March 2021

Publication Site: R Street

Bricks Without Straw?

Link: https://www.rstreet.org/2021/03/30/bricks-without-straw/

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Credit analytics firm FICO posits that the reason for the correlation of credit history and claim probability is that “individuals who closely and cautiously monitor and manage their finances tend to also take better care of their cars and homes and are, generally, more diligent in their risk management habits.” Because such individuals are found across demographic classifications, the discrimination argument becomes hard to uphold.

If insurers find that credit scores have bearing on accident propensity, insurers should be allowed to use them. Preventing insurers from deploying basic tools required to generate appropriate risk-adjusted prices leads to mispricing of risk, harming insurance buyers as well as insurers. What is more, such deprivation leads to unintended negative consequences—an unfair socialization of risk, leaving customers either overcharged or undercharged. Executive fiat prohibiting insurers from accessing the tools of their trade is tantamount to Pharaoh ordering the Israelites of old to make bricks without straw. Bad business, bad policy.

Author(s): Jerry Theodorou

Publication Date: 30 March 2021

Publication Site: R Street