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Catastrophic Insurance Futures And Options

Definition of "Catastrophic insurance futures and options"

First exchange-traded risk management tool specifically developed for the insurance industry by the Chicago Board of Trade as a way for the primary insurance company to offset its underwriting exposures. See also futures tied to reinsurance. These contracts are designed to provide the insurance company with a hedge against underwriting losses resulting from catastrophic occurrences. The futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell a commodity or financial instrument at a set price on a given date. The option permits the owner to decide whether or not to exercise the option to buy or sell the commodity or financial instrument by the stipulated exercise date. The insurance option trading is based on the loss ratio concept (losses incurred over a stipulated time period divided by premiums earned over the same time period). For example, assume an insurance company buys an option on the loss ratio that will fall within the range of 50% to 70%. Should losses fall within that range, the insurance company would then exercise the option and sell the contract, thereby enabling the company to make a profit on the option. This profit could then be used by the company to offset losses. Should the loss portion not fall within the 50% to 70% range, the option would expire at zero value.

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