Pricing is one of the most essential components of an insurance company. It is the process by which an insurance company sets up the premium that needs to be charged from policyholder by considering various risk factors such as age, mortality, gender, location, etc. These are some of many factors used by the insurance sector for calculating premium and will vary with the nature of the product being priced. It is one of the task of an Actuary to perform pricing in General Insurance company.
To calculate the premium amount, a very important concept is used called the “Generalized Linear Models” which is used by the Pricing team for a really precise premium calculation since it can accommodate many factors. As more factors are added, more accuracy will be there in premium calculation but one should remember that every additional factor should have a significant effect in terms of explaining the variability of the dependent variable, which in this case will be the premium to be charged. The significant effect for each added factor is important because each additional factor is associated with heavy cost in terms of modelling time and analysis which the insurance company has to bear.
Presently, we are living in a world of powerful computers which are designed to perform One-way Analysis, Two-way Analysis, Three-way Analysis and even more in order to find association between various factors. But even after so much computational power and analysis, this it is not the final premium that is charged. The final premium that is charged can be way lower than what is calculated by the GLM.
In this highly competitive world, if one has to survive in the market it is important to keep the price of products competitive to what other companies are charging. And to do so, premium is charged lowered than the actual calculated one which leads underwriting losses also and that is why, pricing in General Insurance requires an Actuary to focus on each and every aspect of the product being made.
So how does final premium being decided?
The company goes through a lot of decision making before reaching the final premium and in each step premium decreases. The steps are as follows –
1) BENCHMARK PREMIUM – This premium form the basis for the calculation of actual premium. The benchmark premium constitutes of mainly three things
profitmargin for the company for covering the risk,
- expected claim cost and
2) UNDERWRITING ADJUSTMENTS – The next step involves making underwriting adjustments in the benchmark premium. These adjustments differ for different groups of homogeneous
3) TECHNICAL PREMIUM – After doing the underwriting adjustments, the actuary calculates the technical premium. This premium is calculated considering the past experiences of the claim.
4) PREMIUM ALIGNMENT – The next step is to align the premium with the sum assured in such a way that they remain parallel at all levels of sum assured. This step helps the agents and insured to understand the different premium rates.
5) TARGET PREMIUM – Due to fierce competition in the insurance sector, the actuary lowers the premium by lowering the overall premium. The target premium is such that it constitutes mostly the claim cost.
6) WALKAWAY PREMIUM – Due to the motive of sustaining in market, the company still doesn’t charge the target premium. So, a walkaway premium is decided by lowering the target premium is leading some risk of underwriting loss.
7-ACTUAL PREMIUM – Due to competition, the underwriter still wants to charge less premium. A dispute arises between the actuary and the underwriter. The CEO comes in to solve this dispute and the actual premium is decided which is even less then the walkaway premium! This is done with motive of increasing sales but this leads to underwriting losses,
So, How does General Insurance company earns?
Insurance companies earn from two ways.
- Underwriting Income
- Investment Income
The underwriting income is nothing more than the difference between premium received and the expenses and claim amount paid. The net difference which remains is underwriting income for company
On the other hand, every insurance company invest part the collected premium in different profitable businesses. It also invests in share market, mutual funds and other financial instruments. The profit or interest generated on these investments is the investment income for company.
Almost every insurance company offsets the underwriting losses through investment income and investment income can form a substantial portion of the profit and loss account.
Therefore, it is very important that insurance company use optimization strategy for factors that is used for premium calculation as it has to keep its premium competitive to survive in market. Thus, pricing is a crucial component for insurance company and effective pricing in General Insurance helps companies to sustain in the market in the long run.
The contributors of this knowledgeable article is Arpit Surana (Moderator and Editor at TAC) Shreyansh Agarwal & Jatin Sachdeva. The Actuarial Club is thankful for their contribution. We also would like to thanks Mr. Charchit Agrawal for reviewing this article and wish him luck for Kislay Actuarial Education.