The Cyclone Reinsurance Pool (cyclone pool) commenced operations on 1 July 2022, and insurers can now enter into a Reinsurance Agreement with ARPC.
Large general insurers have until 31 December 2023 to reinsure all eligible cyclone risk with ARPC. This transition period is designed to give insurers enough time to manage costs and risks associated with exiting existing reinsurance contracts and to join the cyclone pool.
Policyholders who have insurance for home, strata, and small business are not required to join the cyclone pool as this will be done on their behalf by their insurer.
Mandatory participation and transition
Participation is mandatory for Australian general insurers with eligible cyclone pool insurance contracts.
Large Australian general insurers must enter into a Cyclone Reinsurance Agreement with ARPC before the 2024 calendar year.
Small Australian general insurers, defined as those with less than $300 million gross written premium (GWP) for household insurance for the most recent financial year, must enter into a Cyclone Reinsurance Agreement before the 2025 calendar year.
The Terrorism and Cyclone Insurance Act 2003 (TCI Act) and the Terrorism and Cyclone Insurance Regulations 2003 (TCI Regulations) provides an exception to mandatory joining of the cyclone pool, where an insurer’s cyclone pool eligible premium income is below $10 million in the most recent financial year.
ARPC has released, via a Notifiable Instrument**, a list of postcodes where cyclone risk is negligible (view here). The insurer can exclude GWP in these postcodes to determine whether their eligible premium income is below $10 million.
Insurers must notify ARPC of their intention to apply the exception and not join the cyclone pool. They must demonstrate that they continue to qualify for the exception each year.
The thresholds and dates for joining the cyclone pool are listed below:
|If/when to join the cyclone pool||Threshold (GWP*)||Eligible classes*||Eligible regions|
|Optional||<=$10m GWP||Householders/ SME/Strata||Ineligible postcodes specified by ARPC via Notifiable Instrument**|
|Small insurers (Join latest December 2024)||< $300m GWP||Householders||All postcodes in Australia|
|Large insurers (Join latest December 2023)|
≥ $300m GWP
|Householders||All postcodes in Australia|
*GWP definition is consistent with regulatory reporting and further relates to the Financial Sector (Collection of Data) (reporting standard) determination No. 18 of 2013 (legislation.gov.au). Classes should be defined according to Attachment B of APRA GPS 001. The GWP figure relates to the most recent financial year. The GWP and class definitions used in the thresholds are consistent with regulatory reporting definitions.
**The TCI Act allows ARPC to determine, via Notifiable Instrument, certain areas where the risk of cyclone loss is so small it is negligible [8A, (7)]. This instrument provides official information regarding which regions should be excluded in the above assessment of GWP when considering exemption from the cyclone pool. ARPC has released a Notifiable Instrument which can be viewed here.
Insurers who have entered into a Cyclone Reinsurance Agreement, can transfer all eligible cyclone policies into the cyclone pool through an unexpired risk transfer at once, or can do so progressively, or a combination of both. Providing all eligible unexpired risks are transferred into the cyclone pool by the relevant date.
Lloyd’s underwriters are not required to participate in the cyclone pool however, if they choose to participate, then they must reinsure on a ‘one-in-all-in’ basis. Meaning, if a Lloyd's underwriter chooses to participate, all eligible cyclone risks held by the syndicate of which that underwriter is a member and as named in the reinsurance contract must be reinsured with the ARPC for the period the contract of reinsurance is in force.
Unauthorised foreign general insurers can also participate in the cyclone pool by entering into a Cyclone Reinsurance Agreement with ARPC.
Coverage of claims
For an initial period of three years from 1 July 2022, the cyclone pool will cover all of the cost of eligible cyclone and cyclone-related flood damage claims above the policyholder excess to support insurer transition and maximise the potential premium reductions through the cyclone pool.
Backing from a $10 billion Government guarantee
The cyclone pool is supported by an annually reinstated $10 billion Government guarantee. Any shortfall in reserves built up over time will be paid for through the Government guarantee.
If the $10 billion guarantee is likely to be exceeded by a single cyclone event or series of cyclone events within a single year, the Government will increase the guarantee to enable the cyclone pool to meet all its obligations.
The cyclone pool will be funded by charging reinsurance premiums to insurers that are consistent with the expected claims and operating expenses for the cyclone pool. Premium amounts for the cyclone pool will be determined and set by ARPC and reviewed by the ARPC reviewing actuary.
The pricing formula is designed to:
- be cost-neutral to Government over the longer term:
- does not seek to make a profit (thereby increasing savings available to policyholders and insurers).
- lower the reinsurance cost for most policies with medium-to-high exposure to cyclone risk;
- maintain incentives for risk reduction and offer discounts for properties that undertake mitigation:
- encourage policyholders to engage in strategies to mitigate cyclone and related flooding risks
- the discounts and risk mitigation work will assist in improving the affordability and sustainability of property insurance over time.
The Reinsurance Agreement is available here.