Munich Re on the impact of cyber rate changes

Hypothetical scenarios paint an illuminating picture

Munich Re on the impact of cyber rate changes


By Kenneth Araullo

Insights from Munich Re highlight the intricate relationship between data utilization and the development of insurance strategies for managing cyber risks, as well as the impact of re-underwriting ransomware as it becomes more prevalent.

The cyber insurance sector is undergoing significant evolution it was noted, especially in its response to the challenges presented by ransomware.

In the wake of a noticeable increase in ransomware claims around 2019, cyber insurers saw their loss ratios escalate dramatically - some estimates indicate nearly a fourfold increase in ransomware claims frequency from 2017 to 2020. This surge pushed many insurers’ loss ratios to or beyond the 100% threshold.

The industry then responded with significant rate hikes from 2020 to 2022, leading to a subsequent improvement in financial outcomes, which some industry experts now believe could result in future rate reductions.

Modeling the effects of rate changes on an insurer’s financial performance can provide clear insights. For instance, a hypothetical scenario outlined by Munich Re shows an insurer starting with a 150% loss ratio, but after tripling rates, this ratio could be reduced to 50%. If this insurer were to then implement a 10% rate reduction, their loss ratio would potentially increase to 56%, with another reduction possibly raising it further to 62%.

This scenario, Munich Re explained, underscores the swift impact that rate adjustments can have on financial health, particularly the compound effect of even modest rate reductions on the loss ratio and the overall bottom line.

An essential in assessing current cyber rates

The improvements observed in cyber risk results for 2022 may also be attributed to several factors, including rate adjustments, enhanced risk selection techniques, or a decrease in underlying ransomware activities.

Munich Re noted that the sustainability of these improvements, complicated by factors such as the lengthening of claim development patterns and external influences, remains uncertain.

For insurers, understanding the full impact of re-underwriting is essential to assess the adequacy of current rates. According to Munich Re, a significant portion of the observed improvements was driven by rate adjustments and reductions in ransomware attack frequencies.

However, distinguishing the impact of re-underwriting from that of reduced attack rates due to geopolitical changes is crucial. This analysis will help predict the likelihood of a resurgence in claims if geopolitical conditions shift.

Insurers use claim count triangles, which track loss frequency over time, as a foundational tool in this analysis. By focusing specifically on ransomware claim counts, insurers can obtain a clearer view of trends and measure the effectiveness of their risk selection strategies, it was stated.

Munich Re emphasized the importance of continuously quantifying and enhancing these strategies to maintain growth and profitability.

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