DEFINITION of 'Insurance Derivative'

A financial instrument that derives its value from an underlying insurance index or the characteristics of an event related to insurance. Insurance derivatives are useful for insurance companies that want to hedge their exposure to catastrophic losses due to exceptional events, such as earthquakes or hurricanes.

BREAKING DOWN 'Insurance Derivative'

Unlike financial derivatives, which typically use marketable securities as their underlying assets, insurance derivatives base their value on a predetermined insurance-related statistic. For example, an insurance derivative could offer a cash payout to its owner if a specific index of hurricane losses reached a target level. This would protect an insurance company from catastrophic losses if an exceptional hurricane caused unforeseen amounts of damage.

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