Rachel Adams Greenup, Ralph Koijen, J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, 25 September 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed US hospitals and health systems, but at the same time many households are forgoing medical care due to financial insecurity and the withdrawal of employer-sponsored health insurance in the wake of massive job losses. This column proposes a private sector solution whereby life insurers provide interest-free loans to their policyholders be used for health insurance payments. This would be profitable for the life insurance companies, which have a financial interest in the wellbeing and survival of their policyholders, and would allow the policyholders to enjoy continuation of medical care. 

Divya Kirti, Mu Yang Shin, 20 June 2020

The grim impact of COVID-19 – extensive financial dislocations across asset classes and potentially large increases in morbidity and mortality – could pose a challenge to the insurance industry, particularly life insurers. This column urges central banks looking to preserve credit supply to account for changes in insurer risk appetite, which could take place well before capital levels approach regulatory thresholds. Financial stability assessments should examine the implications of the pandemic for insurers, which operate in some countries on a comparable scale to banks.

Ralph Koijen, Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, 01 July 2018

Over the past decade, exciting breakthroughs in the field of immuno-oncology have resulted in significant gains in long-term cancer survival, but the cost of immunotherapy is often extremely high. This column argues that life insurance would become a more valuable product to consumers if it were to pay for life-enhancing medical treatment in case of a cancer diagnosis. Widespread adoption of this funding model would increase life expectancy in the population, which would in turn lower the cost of life insurance.

Andrew Ellul, Chotibhak Jotikasthira, Anastasia Kartasheva, Christian Lundblad, Wolf Wagner, 05 June 2018

Systemic risk analyses have largely focused on the linkages among financial institutions’ funding arrangements, but there are increasing connections between insurers and the rest of the financial system. This column explores how systemic risk can originate from insurers’ business models. In the event of negative asset shocks, insurers’ collective allocation to illiquid bonds leads to an amplification of system-wide fire sales. These dynamics can plausibly erase up to 20-70% of insurers’ aggregate equity capital.

Gaston Gelos, Nico Valckx, 27 July 2016

In recent years, the life insurance sector has become more systemically important across advanced economies. This increase is largely due to growing common exposures and to insurers’ rising interest rate sensitivity. This column analyses the evolution of the insurance sector’s contribution to systemic risk. Overall, life insurers do not seem to have markedly changed their asset portfolios toward riskier assets, although smaller and weaker insurers in some countries have taken on more risk. The findings suggest that supervisors and regulators should take a more macroprudential approach to the sector.

Gabriel Chodorow-Reich, 27 July 2014

The monetary policies implemented by the Federal Reserve since late 2008 have raised concerns about the risk taking of financial institutions. This column discusses the effect of some of these policies on life insurance companies and market mutual funds. While the effect on life insurance companies has been stabilising, money market funds did not actively reach for yield.

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