Guaranty Funds – Part 1
Each state has a guaranty fund. Their purpose is to minimize the loss to their citizen policyholders when an insurance company becomes financially impaired or insolvent. Various studies reveal that the following are among the most common reasons for insurance company failure:
- Fraud (including falsified reports, concealing or altering key information, etc.)
- Uncontrolled (rapid) expansion
- Improper assignment of underwriting authority
- Inadequate pricing
- Lack of management expertise (especially with new or different lines of business)
- Improper reserving
- Insider activity
- Inadequate or improper Reinsurance Agreements/Reinsurer Failure
Guaranty funds are, typically, mandated by various state laws and they usually focus on helping persons who are considered to be the most vulnerable to insurance carrier instability (such as auto, homeowners and small-sized commercial business).
Guaranty Funds collect assessments from participating insurers (all other insurers operating in a given state) whenever a need for funds is created by an insurer’s serious, financial impairment. The collected funds are used to handle claims suffered by policyholders of a failed insurer as well as pay the creditors and other parties owed money by the failed company. The fund is reimbursed by taking over and liquidating assets that are held by the insolvent insurer.
A state fund is usually called upon to handle payments once that state’s insurance commissioner formally declares that a given insurer is insolvent. Once that declaration is made, the state takes over operations and management of the company.
Please see part two of this article which discusses monitoring insurance companies.
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