New aspects of product risk measurement and management in the U.S. life and health insurance industries

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Shi, Bo

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Product risk is important to firms’ enterprise risk management. This dissertation focuses on product risk in the U.S. life insurance and health insurance industries. In particular, we add new dimensions to the measurement of product risk for these industries, and we explore how these industries manage product risk in a context of other enterprise risks. In this dissertation, we identify new product risks, propose new measures, and study the management of these risks. In the life insurance industry, we identify a new type of product risk, the guarantee risk, caused by variable annuities with guaranteed living benefits (VAGLB). We propose a value-at-risk type measure inspired by the risk-based capital C3 Phase II to quantify the guarantee risk. In the health insurance industry, where the degree of uncertainty varies for different types of health insurance policies, we develop four exposure-based risk measures to capture health insurers’ product risks. Then we study how life and health insurers manage product risks (and asset risks) by using capital in the context of other risks and appropriate controls. We add to the literature in the life insurance industry by examining the relationship between capital and risks when the guarantee risk is accounted for. In the health insurance industry, to our knowledge, no similar research on the relationship between capital and risks has been conducted. In view of the current topicality of health insurance, our research therefore adds a timely contribution to the understanding of health insurer risk management in an era of health care reform. Capital structure theories, transaction cost economics, and insurers’ risk-taking behaviors provide the theoretical foundation for our research. As to methodology, we implement standard capital structure models for the life and health insurance industries using data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) annual filings of life/health insurers and health insurers. Simultaneous equations modeling is used to model life and health insurers’ enterprise risk management. And the estimation is conducted by the generalized estimation equations (GEE). We find that both U.S. life/health insurers and health insurers prudently build up capital as they experience more product risk and asset risk controlling for the other enterprise risks. We also find that life/health insurers may be using derivatives as a partial substitute for capital when managing new product risk caused by VAGLB, the guarantee risk.



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