US insurers’ direct exposures to SVB & other bank failures modest, says Fitch

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16th March 2023 - Author: Kane Wells

Fitch Ratings has reported that nan first study of rated U.S. insurers’ exposures to now-failed banks (Silicon Valley Bank, Silvergate and Signature Bank) are modest.

fitch-ratings-logoFitch-rated security entities’ nonstop finance vulnerability to nan grounded banks is estimated to full $1.16 billion, pinch astir of nan vulnerability concentrated among life insurers.

Although accrued liking rates airs immoderate difficulties for U.S. insurers, nan standing agency views nan liability profiles of insurers arsenic being comparatively stable.

Fitch continues, “Life security products, whether protection aliases investment-oriented, are mostly intended to supply benefits complete nan agelong word aliases to money semipermanent objectives, and often see surrender charges, which disincentivize withdrawals.

“Non-life security contracts are designed to finance uncertain events. These merchandise features supply stableness to insurers’ liability profiles and beforehand their expertise to lucifer plus and liability durations and support capable liquidity.

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“In contrast, banks person very short liability duration, wherever depositors tin mostly request nan return of their deposits connected immoderate day without penalty, which mostly leads to an inherent asset/liability long mismatch.”

The standing agency besides notes that, for illustration banks, U.S. insurers, peculiarly life insurers, are ample enslaved investors. The firm observes that nan worth of insurers’ bonds declined markedly successful 2022, and for galore ample insurers, contributed to an wide diminution successful shareholders’ equity.

Fitch’s precocious published reappraisal of U.S. Life Insurance GAAP Results for YE2022 recovered that U.S. life insurers reported an aggregate 59% diminution successful GAAP ground shareholders’ equity successful 2022, chiefly related to rising liking rates.

Despite nan mark-to-market losses, Fitch believes that nan unchangeable backing and liability profiles of insurers will let them to clasp these bonds until maturity, reducing unit to waste them astatine an interest-rate-driven loss.

The patient writes, “U.S. insurers’ regulatory superior ratio mostly values bonds astatine amortized costs alternatively than marketplace value. As a result, insurers’ interest-rate-driven enslaved portfolio unrealized losses are improbable to create regulatory superior backing needs.

“In contrast, banks’ superior regulatory superior ratio, depending connected nan bank’s size and accounting treatment, incorporates a information of interest-rate-driven unrealized losses.

“The activity to higher marketplace liking rates successful nan U.S. complete nan past 12 to 15 months has created near-term challenges for insurers, notwithstanding nan aforementioned liability floor plan mitigants, successful particular, an interest-rate driven diminution successful enslaved values and shareholders’ equity; little equity marketplace values; and reductions successful assets nether management, interest income and adaptable finance income.”

In addition, Fitch suggests that insurers are grappling pinch heightened macroeconomic volatility and nan imaginable for a recession driven by geopolitical uncertainty, arsenic good arsenic differing expectations connected nan Federal Reserve complaint tightening path, which nan slope nonaccomplishment exacerbated.

Fitch views nan existent liking complaint situation arsenic favourable for insurers’ net but notes that nan benefits are derived complete clip arsenic portfolios move complete and insurers reinvest astatine much favourable rates.

The standing agency’s assemblage outlooks for U.S. Life and U.S. P&C are ‘neutral’.

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