Gambling for Recovery? Exploring the Riskiness of European Insurers’ Assets during the Covid-19 Crisis 2020
ICIR Working Paper No. 46 by Marcel Beyer now online available!
In crisis times, insurance companies might feel the pressure to present an investment portfolio performance that is superior to the market, since investment portfolios back the claims of policyholders and serve as a signal for the claims’ safety. I investigate how a stock market crisis as experienced over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic influences insurance firms’ decisions on the allocation of their corporate bond portfolio. I find that insurers shift their portfolio holdings towards lower credit risk assets as financial market conditions tighten. This tendency seems to be restricted by the liquidity risk of high-yield assets, and the credit risk of lower-rated investment-grade assets. Both effects lead to an increase in the fraction of less liquid assets during the crash and the recovery.