DEFINITION of 'Impaired Insurer'

An insurance company that is potentially unable to fulfill its policy obligations, and has been placed under rehabilitation or conservation. An impaired insurer is not insolvent, but does pose a potential threat to its policyholders. States consider impaired insurers a risk because they may be unable to fulfill obligations afforded to its citizens in the case of an emergency.

BREAKING DOWN 'Impaired Insurer'

State insurance commissions may determine that an insurance company is running into trouble and may be unable to fulfill its obligations.  A court can place the insurer in conservation or rehabilitation until the health of the company improves enough that the risk of insolvency has ended. An impaired insurer that is unable to exit court ordered conservation or rehabilitation may be considered an insolvent insurer, and may be forced into liquidation.

When an insurance company is found to be impaired, state insurance commissioners must determine the extent of the impairment and how much money is required in order to no longer be impaired. The commissioner will then notify the insurance company of the amount, as well as provide a time frame over which the insurance company is expected to make good on the amount.

State insurance associations may guarantee or insure the policies written by its members, including members that become impaired insurers. Help extended to impaired insurers, outside of guarantees, may include credit or other funds, though the extension of any financial assistance is dependent on the likelihood of the impaired insurer being able to repay.

Insurers are most likely to face the threat of impairment if they provide similar policies to an undiversified set of individuals and businesses. For example, a company that only provides homeowner policies to people living in a coastal flood zone without also providing policies to less flood-prone areas runs a greater risk of being unable to pay its obligations.

 

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