Ultimate risk insurance is an insurance contract that transfers the risk of loss from the policyholder to the insurer over a set number of years. Such contracts have a certain limit of liability and include a “compensation feature” (i.e., reimbursement to the insured) if the loss experience is better than expected. Part of the investment income received from the insurance premium is also returned to the insured. Instead of the underwriting profit that an insurer earns from a traditional insurance policy, a limited risk insurance contract provides the insurer with an administrative fee for writing and maintaining the contract, as well as a relatively stable investment income that is earned from the policyholder’s premium payments.
Insurance is a contractual relationship that arises when one party (the insurer), for a fee (premium), agrees to compensate the other party (the insured) for losses caused to a certain subject (risk) caused by certain unforeseen circumstances (hazards or dangers). The term ‘guarantee’, commonly used in England, is considered synonymous with ‘insurance’.
The 10/10 Rule is a matter of analyzing and demonstrating the transfer of risk as a precondition for the use of reinsurance accounting, which was codified in the early 1990s with the adoption of Financial Accounting Standard (FAS) 113 (and its statutory counterpart, SSAP 62). FAS 113 itself was a response to alleged abuses and set the standard for testing whether something should be called an insurance contract. FAS 113 required that the transfer of risk be demonstrated by comparing the present value of the cash flows associated with the contract and, in particular, by exceeding certain thresholds of “significance” of risk. The thresholds, often referred to as the 9a and 9b tests, are: 9a. The reinsurer assumes significant insurance risk under the reinsured parts of the underlying insurance contracts. 9b. It is possible that the reinsurer could suffer a significant loss from the transaction. While neither “significant” nor “reasonably possible” was defined in this context, standard rules of thumb quickly emerged in the implementation of FAS 113. The most commonly cited is the “10/10 Rule”. This rule states that a contract reaches a threshold if there is at least a 10 percent chance that it will suffer a loss of 10 percent or more in present value (expressed as a percentage of the contract premium ceded).