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Types of Reinsurance


Proportional reinsurance is where the reinsurer takes a stated percent share of each policy the insurer writes and then shares in the premiums and losses in that same proportion. The size of the insurer might only allow it to write a risk with a policy limit of up to $1 million, but by purchasing proportional reinsurance it might double or triple that limit. Premiums and losses are then shared on a pro rata basis. For example an insurance company might purchase a 50% quota share treaty; in this case they would share half of all premium and losses with the reinsurer. In a 75% quota share, they would share 3/4th's of all premiums and losses. The reinsurance company usually pays a commission on the premiums back to the insurer in order to compensate them for costs incurred in sourcing and administering (e.g. retail brokerage, fees, taxes, home office expenses) the business (usually 20-30%) This is known as the ceding commission.

The other (lesser known) form of proportional reinsurance is surplus share. In this case, a line is defined as a certain policy limit - say $100,000. In a 9 line surplus share treaty the reinsurer could then accept up to $900,000 (9 lines). So if the Insurance Company issues a policy for $100,000, they would keep all of the premiums and losses from that policy. If they issue a $200,000 policy, they would give (cede) half of the premiums and losses to the reinsurer (1 line each). If they issue a $500,000 policy, they would cede 80% of the premiums and losses on that policy to the reinsurer (1 line to the company, 4 lines to the reinsurer 4/5 = 80%) If they issue the maximum policy limit of $1,000,000 the Reinsurer would then get 90% of all of the premiums and losses from that policy.

Non-proportional (excess of loss)

Non-Proportional reinsurance, also known as excess of loss reinsurance, only responds if the loss suffered by the insurer exceeds a certain amount, called the retention. An example of this form of reinsurance is where the insurer is prepared to accept a loss of $1 million for any loss which may occur and purchases a layer of reinsurance of $4m in excess of $1 million - if a loss of $3 million occurs the insurer pays the $3 million to the insured(s), and then recovers $2 million from their reinsurer(s). In this example, the insurer will retain any loss exceeding $5 million unless they have purchased a further excess layer (second layer) of say $10 million excess of $5 million.

Excess of loss reinsurance can have two forms - Per Risk or Per Occurrence (Catastrophe or Cat). In per risk, the cedants insurance policy limits are greater than the reinsurance retention. For example, an insurance company might insure commercial property risks with policy limits up to $10 million and then buy per risk reinsurance of $5 million in excess of $5 million. In this case a loss of $6 million on that policy will result in the recovery of $1 million from the reinsurer.

In catastrophe excess of loss, the cedants insurance policy limits must be less than the reinsurance retention. For example, an insurance company issues homeowner's policy limits of up to $500,000 and then buys catastrophe reinsurance of $22,000,000 in excess of $3,000,000. In that case, the insurance company would only recover from reinsurers in the event of multiple losses in one event (i.e hurricane, earthquake, etc.)

This same principle applies to casualty reinsurance except that in the case of Catastrophe excess the word Clash is used.


Many reinsurance placements are not placed with a single reinsurer but are shared between a number of reinsurers. (for example a $30,000,000 xs of $20,000,000 layer may be shared by 30 reinsurers with a $1,000,000 participation each) The reinsurer who sets the terms (premium and contract conditions) for the reinsurance contract is called the lead reinsurer; the other companies subscribing to the contract are called following reinsurers (they follow the lead).

About half of all reinsurance is handled by Reinsurance Brokers who then place business with reinsurance companies. The other half is with Direct Writing Reinsurers who have their own production staff and thus reinsure insurance companies directly.



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