DEFINITION of 'Cession'

The portions of the obligations in an insurance company's policy portfolio that are transferred to a reinsurer. Risk can be transferred to the reinsurer in one of two ways: proportional or non-proportional. Proportional reinsurance is an arrangement where the insurer and reinsurer share an agreed percentage of both premiums and losses. Non-Proportional reinsurance is a system by which the reinsurer pays only when losses are over an agreed-upon amount.


The reinsurance industry has become increasingly sophisticated due to competition within the insurance industry. Reinsurance creates an opportunity for insurer and reinsurers to profit at each others' expense based on the accuracy of the actuarial calculations which price the risk incurred. For example, suppose a reinsurer believes the risk of loss on a certain coverage is less than is actually the case. If an insurer has a more accurate risk model, he can recognize that a reinsurer is undercharging for this coverage. In this case, the insurer simply sells the policies to customers at the higher rate and buys reinsurance at the lower rate, locking in an arbitrage profit.

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