Marsh Tracks Top Captive Trends

The number of captive insurers continues to increase globally, from 5,000 in 2006 to more than 7,000 in 2016. Once formed primarily by large companies, the captive market has opened up to mid-size and small businesses. The industry is also seeing a trend in companies forming more than one captive, using them for cyber, political risk and other exposures, according to a recent Marsh report, Captives at the Core: The Foundation of a Risk Financing Strategy.

Organizations are seeing disruptions in a number of areas and are relying more on their existing captives, Marsh said. Because of their flexibility, captives are also being used to respond to market cycles and organizational changes such as mergers and acquisitions.

While North America and Europe still dominate in numbers of captives, other regions have shown more interest in the past three years. In Latin America, captive formation increased 11% in 2016, the study found.

Within the United States, there is more competition among domiciles and some of the newer domiciles are experiencing growth. The top-growing U.S. domiciles in 2016 were Texas, Connecticut, Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee, and New York. Domiciles outside the U.S. seeing the most growth include Sweden, Guernsey, Singapore, Malta, and the Cayman Islands.
As organizations’ exposures increase in number, complexity and severity, shareholder funds generated by captives are becoming more important. According to Marsh:

For many clients, captives are at the core of their risk management strategy, going beyond the financing of traditional property/casualty risks.

Specifically, we are seeing an increase in parent companies using captive shareholder funds to underwrite an influx of new and non-traditional risks, including cyber, supply chain, employee benefits, and terrorism, as well as to develop analytics associated with these risks and fund other risk management initiatives.

Risk management projects funded by captive shareholder funds in 2016 included initiatives to determine capital efficiency and optimal risk retention levels in the form of risk-finance optimization; quantify cyber business-interruption exposures; accelerate the closure of legacy claims; and improve workforce and fleet safety/loss control policies.

For example, Marsh-managed captives used to address cyber liability increased by 19% from 2015 to 2016. Since 2012, in fact, cyber liability programs in captives have skyrocketed 210%.
“We expect to see a continued increase, driven in part by companies that are already strong captive users and by those that may have difficulty insuring their professional liability risks,” Marsh said.

Aon Introduces Single-Parent Captive Cyber Insurance Program


With cyberattack listed as one of their top risks, organizations are looking for ways to mitigate their risk in a market where cyber insurance rates are quickly rising. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the annual cost of cyber crime and economic espionage to the world economy runs as high as $445 billion, or about 1% of global income.

This does not include intangible damage to an organization, however. Companies are purchasing more insurance to cover the risk. In 2014, the report said, the insurance industry took in $2.5 billion in premiums on policies to protect companies from losses resulting from hacks.

As a result, captive insurers are being used more and more for coverage.

Aon said it is addressing shortcomings in traditional cyber coverage with a cyber captive program with capacity of up to $400 million. Companies looking to form a captive would undergo a review to quantify their cyber exposures.

According to Peter Mullen, CEO of Aon Captive and Insurance Management, the program is designed to help clients understand their risk profile. “Once this is understood, they are is in a better position to make decisions about how much risk to retain in their captive and how much risk to transfer to the program,” Mullen said. “The program allows captives to purchase coverage up to $400 million on a reinsurance or excess insurance basis.”

The cyber captive program will be domiciled in Bermuda and is available to single-parent captives. The basis for coverage will be “a very broad form which includes coverage for property damage and business interruption following a cyber event,” he added.

“Building a large tower of limits can be hampered by differing policy terms and conditions and dislocation of rates at different layers in a program,” Mullen said. “Additionally, many organizations facing cyber risks that can result in physical impacts, such as property damage and business interruption, agree that a more comprehensive approach to cyber risk is needed.”

Terrorism Incidents Down, Disruption Up in 2015

A number of high-profile terrorism attacks worldwide have raised people’s fears this year, but the reality is that the number of attacks and deaths from such attacks actually decreased in 2015, according to Marsh’s 2016 Terrorism Risk Insurance Report.
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The report summarizes terrorism risk insurance trends, benchmarks terrorism insurance take-up rates and pricing, and offers risk management solutions for terrorism exposures.

The more current attacks, often perpetrated by a single individual or small group, are different from those carried out in the 1990s and 2000s when high profile locations were targeted. Individuals carrying out the more recent attacks may have no direct contact with a known terrorist organization, but could be drawn to them through writings and video, particularly on the internet, Marsh said.

These events can be very disruptive to operations in some companies. In the travel industry, for example:

  • About 10% of American travelers canceled booked trips due to the recent attacks in Egypt, France, Lebanon and Mali, which impacted $8.2 billion in travel spending, according to a survey by YouGov.
  • Booking losses for Air France were estimated to be €50 million ($56 million), the company said in a statement.
  • Airlines, hotel chains and travel websites experienced drops in their stock prices after this year’s airport bombing in Brussels.

In the United States, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015 (TRIPRA) offers businesses a federal backstop against terrorism-related losses. While the overall take-up rate for TRIPRA coverage in the U.S. increased slightly in 2015, it has remained in the 60% range since 2009, Marsh said.

Managing terrorism risk requires a combination of strategies that protect people, property and finances. On the financial side, the choice is whether to retain or transfer the risk with insurance. But the changing pattern of terrorism risk has some companies asking if they are adequately insured for business interruption and related losses. They also wonder how to prepare for potential losses from cyber terrorism and other events.

Other key takeaways from the report include:

  • As small group and “lone wolf” terrorist attacks appear to be the changing face of terrorism, many organizations are assessing their coverage for indirect losses stemming from business interruption risks.
  • Following the 2015 passage of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIPRA), take-up rates in the US edged up for TRIPRA terrorism coverage embedded in property programs.
  • Among industry sectors, media organizations had the highest take-up rate for terrorism insurance in 2015.
  • Workers’ compensation markets for terrorism risks generally stabilized.
  • The number of Marsh-managed captives accessing TRIPRA increased by 17% from 2014 to 2015, but many captives that could offer a terrorism program do not.
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Captive Growth Increases Need for Insurance-Experienced Board

The current climate for captive insurers is gravitating toward encouraging captives—including single-parent, association and agent-owned—to appoint experienced, independent directors to their boards. Regulators (National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Bermuda Monetary Authority) and rating organizations (A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s) have all come out in favor of the appointment of independent directors. They believe that independent directors add value by providing independent, experienced guidance to captive owners that is separate and distinct from a captive’s other advisers, including as managers, lawyers and accountants.

Their appointment could also help a company avoid a lawsuit. Independent directors do not have conflicts of interest, can provide experience that is different from others on the board and usually have a broad captive insurance perspective.

Another point worth considering is that some captive managers may have other interests, such as brokerages, reinsurance brokerages, actuarial, claims, asset investments. Some may even provide leads for a possible fee for premium financing. Furthermore, captive owners can mistakenly believe they get all the advice they need from their current advisers.

Independents on the Horizon

In the coming months, expect to see captive owners reaching out to independent directors, both because of their value-added consulting expertise and because regulators and possibly rating agencies will require it. This practice already exists in some overseas jurisdictions, and with Solvency II, it could become more important as it may ultimately apply here in the U.S.

What is often overlooked is the value-added experience independents offer. Here is a partial list of services normally expected of experienced independent directors:

  • Help in selecting the reinsurance interme­diary. They provide an independent per­spective separate from the reinsurance broker or risk manager.
  • Advise on acquisition opportunities of the captive, if any, such as buying a third-party administrator, a licensed admitted insur­ance company, or an investment in a new start-up retail brokerage firm. These sophis­ticated ideas are an expansion of most cap­tives’ business plans and need to be consid­ered carefully given the risks they present. Keep in mind, however, that the captive landscape from the 1970s is littered with the carcasses of captives that ventured ill-advised into such businesses.
  • Help in evaluating a reinsurance program’s structure and economics.
  • Attend and advise on the rating process with outside rating agencies, such as A.M. Best.
  • Attend meetings with insurance regulators, especially if there is a regulatory concern.

Independent directors are also asked to vote on many issues, including:

  • Should the captive change fronting companies?
  • Should the captive make a large dividend payment to the parent corporation, or should it return capital to its owners?
  • Should the captive write direct procure­ment policies for the parent corporation?
  • What law firm should handle uncollectible reinsurance?
  • Should the captive litigate or arbitrate certain claims?
  • Should it change asset investment managers?
  • Should the captive expand into other lines of business, such as writing third-party reinsurance business?
  • Should it move from an offshore domicile to a domestic domicile?
  • How can the captive reduce the cost of its reinsurance program?
  • How does a captive evaluate its various service providers?
  • What are the consequences of executing reinsurance or fronting agreements?