The first pure wildfire exposed catastrophe bond has come to market, as California focused electrical utility PG&E Corporation (the Pacific Gas and Electric Company) turns to the capital markets and ILS investors as a source of collateralized insurance protection with a $200 million Cal Phoenix Re Ltd. (Series 2018-1) transaction.
Being a corporate beneficiary of a property catastrophe bond exposed solely to California wildfire risks you might have thought that the PG&E cat bond would feature a parametric trigger, but it doesn’t as the risk is being ceded via Energy Insurance Mutual (of which PG&E is a member) as the insured and reinsurance firm Tokio Millennium Re AG.
Because of that layering of risk transfer the new Cal Phoenix Re Ltd. (Series 2018-1) catastrophe bond is an indemnity arrangement, with the sale of the notes issued by Cal Phoenix Re Ltd. set to collateralize the retrocessional reinsurance agreement with Tokio Millennium Re, which in turn provides the reinsurance protection to Energy Insurance Mutual, which then insures the PG&E Corporation risk.
It’s an interesting way to see the corporate risk of PG&E cascade through multiple layers of insurance, reinsurance and retrocession to the capital markets, allowing for an indemnity coverage arrangement to be put in place, backed by the efficiency of ILS capacity.
Bermuda special purpose insurer Cal Phoenix Re Ltd. will aim to sell a $200 million tranche of Series 2018-1 notes to investors, with the proceeds providing the capital to back the risk transfer for PG&E.
The cat bond will ultimately provide PG&E with a three-year source of insurance protection against property damages caused by wildfires in the state of California, but interestingly this appears to be third-party wildfire liability so the damage caused by wildfires for which PG&E is liable.
This seems to be a first in the catastrophe bond market, providing PG&E with a way to transfer a significant risk to its business to the capital markets.
It also appears that under loss adjustment expenses will be included certain litigation risks related to the third-party wildfire related property damages, which again appears to be a first in the cat bond marketplace.
The insured Energy Insurance Mutual Limited, actually its subsidiary Energy Insurance Services, Inc., is a provider of third-party liability insurance coverage to energy utility and related companies.
It appears that this new Cal Phoenix Re cat bond is a direct response to the recent severe California wildfire season, which had seen PG&E threatened with liability cases, according to news reports.
Cal Phoenix Re, as issuer, will issue the notes to be sold to ILS funds and ILS investors, with the proceeds backing a three-year annual aggregate and indemnity reinsurance arrangement with Tokio Millennium Re, the reinsured, although the coverage cascades back to PG&E.
The cover is for California wildfires that are caused by or due to infrastructure owned by the insured PG&E.
We’re told that the currently $200 million tranche of Series 2018-1 notes to be issued by Cal Phoenix Re will have an initial attachment point of $1.25 billion and cover a $500 million layer from there upwards, with a franchise deductible per event.
That equates to a modelled initial attachment probability of 1.35%, an initial expected loss of 1.01% and we understand that the notes are being offered to investors with coupon guidance of 6% to 6.5%.
That’s a significant multiple, which could be to ensure investors feel compensated for taking on potential unknowns with this catastrophe bond, such as the litigation risk that could be included under loss adjustment expenses.
It will be fascinating to see how this new Cal Phoenix Re Ltd. catastrophe bond is received by the ILS investor community, given the novel nature of the risk, the layered risk transfer and the potential for third-party liability to add to losses qualifying under the terms of the deal.
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