Tag Archives: ceded reinsurance

The Need to Automate Reinsurance Programs

“Do you know where your children are?” That was a popular catchphrase in a TV public service announcement.

Do you know where your reinsurance program is? Many senior executives at insurers can’t say for sure.

Many insurers find it a struggle to document their ceded reinsurance program (the risk they have transferred to a reinsurer) in a way that’s acceptable to regulators—and senior management—because they have not automated management of ceded reinsurance policies, data and claims. According to a recent survey, only 14% of primary carriers have a reinsurance system. Most insurers still use spreadsheets or other manual methods to keep track of their reinsurance contracts and claims.

The NAIC Risk Management and Own Risk and Solvency Assessment Model Act (RMORSA) became effective in January 2015, and many states have adopted this model legislation. RMORSA requires insurers to have a systematic way of identifying, assessing and managing risk, and everything related to reinsurance is certainly part of it. Under it, insurers are required to submit an annual summary report to their primary regulator. A key part of complying with RMORSA, and other regulations, will be documenting reinsurance coverage in detail.

It is possible to comply with RMORSA without a true reinsurance system. But it’s a difficult, time-consuming process that doesn’t guarantee good results. Using a spreadsheet and other manual methods to track contracts and claims doesn’t give you everything you need in one place for regulatory filings. For instance, an insurer might not being able to identify out-of-compliance policies. This can occur when a reinsurer requires one or more exclusions in the policies it reinsures. If the insurer issues the policies without the exclusions, the policies are out of compliance, and the reinsurer may deny liability when there’s a claim.

But complying isn’t just a bureaucratic exercise. The RMORSA process also helps insurers get a clearer picture of their risks—and what could be more important for a company whose business is managing risk?

Implementing a modern reinsurance management system enables complete automation, controls and audit trails. It will generate Schedule F and statutory reporting at a click of a button. This, in turn, will reduce Schedule F penalties to the bare minimum.

Managing Risk

Regulatory compliance is hardly the only reason to use dedicated software to track ceded reinsurance. Intricate reinsurance contracts and special pool arrangements, numerous policies and arrays of transactions create a massive risk of having unintended exposures. Inability to ensure that each insured risk has the appropriate reinsurance program associated with it is a recipe for disaster.

An insurer must track and integrate many reinsurance processes. They include cession treaties and facultatives, claims and events, policy management, technical accounting (billing), bordereaux/statements, internal retrocession, assumed and retrocession operations, financial accounting, accounts payable, accounts receivable, regulatory reporting, statistical reports (such as triangulation per line of business, type of contract and region) and business intelligence.

With fragmented solutions such as spreadsheets and manual processes, things often fall between the cracks because there are so many reinsurance-related items to manage. Financial information for trends, profitability analysis and exposures becomes unreliable. Automating processes can reduce the chances of missing something important to almost zero.

Stanching Claims Leakage

One of the biggest problems is claims leakage. How do you know when a reinsurer owes your company money? Answering that question is not as straightforward as it seems, given the complexity of many different types of reinsurance contracts.

For instance, after implementing a reinsurance solution, a European insurer detected more than $1 million of overlooked claims. (You can’t file a claim if you don’t know you have one.) It contacted its reinsurer, which paid promptly.

The situation for insurers that don’t automate will only get worse. Many of the experienced reinsurance administrators have retired or will be retiring in the next few years, and there are few in the pipeline coming up. With reinsurance becoming ever more complicated, the only feasible answer for insurers is a comprehensive reinsurance system that puts everything in one place. The effort and cost are well worth the benefits in staff productivity, risk reduction, better claims tracking and improved regulatory compliance—to avoid RMORSA remorse and a host of other problems.

Ceded Reinsurance Needs SaaS Model

Ceded reinsurance management is still a technology backwater at insurers that manage their reinsurance policies and claims with spreadsheet software. These manual methods are error-prone, slow and labor-intensive. Regulatory compliance is difficult, and legitimate claims can slip through.

Insurers recognize they need a better solution, and there’s progress. While quite a few insurers have implemented a ceded reinsurance system in the last few years, many more are planning to install their first system sometime soon. They want to have software that lets them manage complex facultative reinsurance and treaties and the corresponding policies and claims efficiently in one place.

Insurers looking to upgrade any kind of system have better choices today than ever about how and where to implement it. While licensing the software and running it on-premises is still an option, virtually every insurer is considering putting new systems on the cloud in some way. Nearly every insurer expects vendors to include a SaaS or hosted option in their RFPs.

That’s not surprising. A 2014 Ovum whitepaper said 52% of insurers it surveyed are currently earmarking 20% to 39% of new IT spending on SAAS, while 21% are spending 40% to 59%.

The definition of SaaS is not set in stone, but let’s try for a basic understanding. SaaS normally means that the insurer pays the vendor a monthly fee that covers everything—the use of the software, maintenance, upgrades and support. The software is hosted more often at a secure cloud provider such as Amazon Web Services that offers a sound service level agreement.

A ceded reinsurance system is an especially good candidate for a SaaS or a hybrid solution (more on that later). It’s an opportunity for insurers and IT professionals to get comfortable with SaaS on a smaller scale before putting a core system such as a policy administration system in the cloud.

SaaS is attractive for several key reasons. One is that it can save money. Instead of paying a large upfront fee for a perpetual software license, the insurer just pays a monthly, all-inclusive “rental” fee. The software vendor and the cloud-hosting vendor provide both the application and underlying software (such as Oracle or WebSphere) and servers. All the insurer needs is a solid Internet connection. And if your building is hit with a flood or earthquake and has to close, business won’t stop, because users can access the system from almost anywhere.

Having the experts run, maintain and upgrade the software is another big advantage. Instead of having internal IT people apply patches and updates, the vendor—which knows its own software better than anyone else—keeps the application going 24/7. Because it is doing the same thing for many customers, there are economies of scale.

Lower upfront costs and the ability to outsource maintenance to experts mean that even small and medium-sized insurers can afford a state-of-the-art system that might be out of reach otherwise. But even big insurers that have the money and funds to buy and staff a system can still find SaaS to be a compelling option. Whether the insurer is big, small or mid-sized, SaaS offers a platform that may never become obsolete.

Additionally, going the SaaS route can get your system up and running faster, as you won’t need to buy hardware and install the system on your servers. How long it will take depends on the amount of customization required and on the data requirements.

Scalability is another plus. When the business grows, the customer can just adjust the monthly fee instead of having to buy more hardware.

A 2014 Gartner survey of organizations in 10 countries said most are deploying SaaS for mission-critical functions. The traditional on-premises software model is expected to shrink from 34% today to 18% by 2017, Gartner said.

While these are powerful advantages, there are some real or at least perceived disadvantages with SaaS. Probably the biggest barrier is willingness to have a third party store data. A ceded system uses nearly all data from the insurance company, sometimes over many underwriting years, and executives must be comfortable that their company’s data is 100% safe when it’s stored elsewhere. That can be a big leap of faith that some companies aren’t ready to make.

A hybrid solution can be a good way around that. More common in Europe, hybrid solutions are starting to catch on in North America. With this model, the software and data reside at the insurer or reinsurer, which also owns the license. The difference is that the vendor connects to the insurer’s environment to monitor, optimize and maintain the system. As with SaaS, the insurer’s IT department has little involvement with continuing operations. All that is work is outsourced.

How much access does the vendor have to the insurer’s data and systems under a hybrid solution? There are various options, depending on the insurer’s comfort level.

What’s the right solution for a ceded reinsurance system to your company? Each company is unique, and the best answer depends on many factors. But whether you go the on-premises route, choose SaaS or use a hybrid solution, you’ll get a modern system that handles reinsurance efficiently and effectively. Your company is going to benefit greatly.