Policy Letter No. 62

Systemic Risk in Insurance: Towards a new Approach

During the last IAIS Global Seminar in June 2017, IAIS disclosed the agenda for a gradual shift in the systemic risk assessment methodology from the current Entity Based Approach (EBA) to a new Activity Based Approach(ABA). The EBA, which was developed in the aftermath of the 2008/2009 financial crisis, defines a list of Global Systemically Important Insurers (G-SIIs) based on a pre-defined set of criteria related to the size of the institution. These G-SIIs are subject to additional regulatory requirements since their distress or disorderly failure would potentially cause significant disruption to the global financial system and economic activity. Even if size is still a needed element of a systemic risk assessment, the strong emphasis put on the too-big-to-fail approach in insurance, i.e. EBA, might be partially missing the underlying nature of systemic risk in insurance. Not only certain activities, including insurance activities such as life or non-life lines of business, but also common exposures or certain managerial practices such as leverage or funding structures, tend to contribute to systemic risk of insurers but are not covered by the current EBA (Berdin and Sottocornola, 2015). Therefore, we very much welcome the general development of the systemic risk assessment methodology, even if several important questions still need to be answered.