ILS funds free COVID trapped capital through commutations: AM Best

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Insurance-linked securities (ILS) fund managers have been working to free trapped capital related to possible COVID pandemic related losses in European reinsurance contracts, with commutations being pursued, AM Best has reported.

covid-business-interruptionIn a wide-ranging ILS market report from the rating agency, one of the most interesting insights is that AM Best believes efforts to release trapped capital related to possible pandemic losses remains a focus for ILS fund managers.

AM Best said that, overall, it believes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the insurance-linked securities (ILS) market will remain limited.

“To date, the paid claims ratios remain very low, and some market participants believe that more than half of all trapped capital related to COVID has been released,” the rating agency explained.

Adding that, “However, the impact of the pandemic has varied by ILS segment and region.”

Catastrophe bonds have not been exposed, due to the largely named peril exposures they cover. The same goes for industry-loss warranties (ILW’s).

But, the collateralized reinsurance segment has been more affected and AM Best notes that this is, “Especially in Europe, where COVID remains a significant issue.”

“Contract wording in Europe tended to be less precise than in the US, allowing for a broader interpretation of coverage than intended. Arbitration cases and court rulings have generally favored insurers in the US more than in Europe,” AM Best continues.

Positively though, “ILS managers are pursuing commutation to free up capital trapped due to COVID-19,” AM Best said.

“The high cost of arbitration and litigation may put the relationships with cedents in jeopardy, prompting some ILS managers to pursue commutations instead,” the rating agency explained.

Adding that, “These managers have been able to leverage capacity constraints in the reinsurance market to negotiate commutation terms to free up deployable capital.”

It’s hoped that this will accelerate the release of trapped capital related to potential losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are some European catastrophe reinsurance programs that remain a source of uncertainty for some ILS contracts, Artemis understands.

But we’re told that even here, the ILS market has some confidence that eventually a capital release may be possible.

With market participants already feeling more than half of the COVID trapped ILS capital has been released, we could see this accelerate towards the end of the year as commutation discussions continue in alignment with reinsurance renewal negotiations, which may be the next opportunity for ILS managers to gain some more progress on this.

There has been a feeling in the ILS market that the level of capital trapped due to COVID-19 was excessive, so it’s encouraging to learn this is still being worked through and in what appears to be a positive and constructive manner for the market.

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