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reinsurance sidecar

Limited purpose reinsurance companies that provide insurers and reinsurers with alternative capital to reduce earnings and capital volatility developed in response to hurricanes and other catastrophes. Like traditional reinsurers, the sidecar reinsurer assumes a portion of the ceding company's underwriting risk (including losses and expenses) in exchange for a like-percentage premium (hence the term "sidecar"). The sidecar reinsurance agreement is typically a quota share agreement. Sidecars are usually set up by an affiliated insurer or reinsurer and capitalized by equity and debt financing (often from hedge funds). The capital is invested and used to pay claims. Funds are also returned to the affiliated company to pay debt interest and shareholder dividends.

Sidecars differ from traditional reinsurance in that (1) they are privately financed; (2) they exist for a defined risk period and finite lifetime (usually 24 months or less); (3) their risks are defined and limited; (4) they are typically limited to a single cedent; and (5) they do not have an active management group or staff. Since they are tailored to a specific cedent's needs, capital is determined after modeling the risks. Also, without active management, sidecars are strictly bound to their contractual terms.


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