Call For Essays: Managing Extreme Event Risk-Reinsurance Tools and Solutions

Background and Content

The risk of loss due to an extreme event poses a challenge for actuaries.  The probability of the occurrence of such an event is considered remote, but the potential loss is catastrophic.  Global trends including increasing risk of pandemics and extreme weather events raise the probability and/or cost of an extreme event.  Actuaries and non-actuaries alike, practicing within a wide range of actuarial disciplines including reinsurance, are showing increasing demand for better tools and cost-effective solutions to assess and manage extreme event risk.  These improved tools and solutions  are needed within traditional and emerging areas of actuarial practice, and also within governance and regulatory communities.   

The Reinsurance Section of the Society of Actuaries is calling for essays to address extreme risks.  Essays should be short (3000 words or less) and should describe models, data sources, and analytic techniques for assessing extreme event risk, and evaluating potential techniques for managing this risk.  It is preferred that proposed solutions will incorporate a focus on reinsurance.  Cash awards as described below will be given for the best papers.

Essays should provide guidance for actuaries practicing in the major actuarial disciplines (i.e., general insurance, life insurance, health insurance, pensions), and in reinsurance. These essays may propose tools and solutions or may otherwise generate ideas for future long-form research.

The objective is to share insights and perspectives, while offering suggestions for existing and developing tools and methods.  We welcome essays on any relevant extreme risk.  The following lists are included as illustrative examples, but these lists are not intended to be exhaustive or restrictive.


  • Trade treaty renegotiations / Trade “war” – Risk of establishing an international subsidiary in a favorable environment, followed by a change to that environment. Impact of nationalism in setting trade policy.
  • Health of economic alliances – Risk of decomposition of EU, or other key alliances.
  • Tax relationship changes –
    • E.g., EU sanctions cause member countries to rewrite tax laws, eliminating existing tax havens for US businesses. (E.g. Barbados).
    • E.g., US tax reform
  • Government shutdowns – No policyholder income to pay premiums, market impact of reduced cash flow, investment impact of mortgage defaults and potential bankruptcies
  • Regulatory changes – risk of changing markets, products, operations and potential for market withdrawal.


  • Climate change / Global warming
    • Disease, droughts, release of toxins (e.g., glacial melting)
    • Increasing frequency / severity of otherwise rare extreme events – Tornado, flood, hurricane
    • Shifts in energy usage patterns – amount of energy usage, energy sources; e.g. fossil fuels, nuclear, wind, solar. Use of electric engines vs. internal combustion.
    • Pollution – health impacts, higher in less developed countries


  • Generational differences in insurance demand – impact on marketing, sales, delivery preferences
  • Lifestyle changes – including automation (e.g., self-driving vehicles – liability, exposure to cyber-warfare/crime)
  • Government vulnerability to cyberattack
  • New consumption in a social media world (multiple sub-populations receive different stories as truth); creates a risk of damage to public perception of insurance company or industry
  • Individuals or groups acting inconsistent with their best interest – due to trends or misinformation, which may spread more easily via social media (e.g., reluctance to obtain vaccinations against disease). Credible news organizations are no key to spreading a message.  Downgrading of subject matter experts as “out of touch elites,” to achieve an objective.
  • Cannabis legalization, impact to health insurance


  • Cyberwarfare – related to national security
  • Cybercrime – e.g., cloud server vulnerability in multiple companies, simultaneously impacting cash flows that impact a single insurer
  • Solar Pulse – physical risk to systems; mitigate via backups
  • Artificial Intelligence – Appears to pose a disruption risk rather than an extreme event (e.g., insurance industry could be disrupted by AI-driven marketing, distribution, underwriting, or the creation/identification of arbitrage opportunities)


  • Political Shifts – Diversify and be prepared to withdraw from volatile countries.
  • Recession – Greatest risk source for extreme economic events. Possible for insurers to limit, but not avoid, financial damage:
    • Asset diversification, Risk limits, Hedging strategies, Reinsurance, Product diversification
    • Prepare for tax law changes or extended government shutdown driving a recession
  • Interest Rate shifts – Immunize portfolios, hedging, scenario testing (be prepared for negative outcomes)


June 4, 2019:  Call for essays issued

August 16, 2019:  Deadline for submission of essays

August - September 2019: Review of essays and selection by September 30, 2019.

Length And Instructions For Submission

Essays must be submitted in English with a maximum length of 3,000 words. In the event that an essay exceeds 3,000 words, the essay may be declined or returned to the author with a request for further editing and resubmission.

There is no requirement for formal or extensive footnoting.

Author information must be submitted with the essay and include name; credentials or designations (if appropriate); title; organization/company; e-mail address; and phone number. Please provide all author information at the beginning of the essay.

Essays that contain any overt political statements, commercial content, and other inappropriate material will not be accepted. Articles must comply with the SOA's antitrust guidelines.

Please submit your essay via e–mail by August 16, 2019 to:

Jan Schuh, Sr. Research Administrator

Society of Actuaries



$5,000 in award money has been allocated for this Call for Essays.  The review committee will select the leading essays and determine how to allocate the award money. 

Awards for up to 8 essays will be granted, allocated as follows:

 - First Prizen - $1,000

 - Runner Ups - $750(2 awarded)

 - Honorable Mention - $500(up to 5 awarded)

Consideration will be given to creativity, originality and the extent to which the essay contributes to the topic area of study.  In exchange for award money, selected authors will be required to assign all copyrights in their essays to the Society of Actuaries.

Publication and Presentation

Depending on how many essays are received and the diversity among the topic areas, a suitable format for electronic publication and dissemination will be selected.  Essays may also be presented at an upcoming SOA meeting, webcast, or other professional development event. 

In addition, other venues for publication or presentation of the ideas outside of the SOA will be considered. It is hoped that publication of the collected essays will further knowledge and stimulate discussion as well as promote future efforts in this area.

Rights Granted

By submitting an essay for consideration, the essay author(s) is granting to the Society of Actuaries an unlimited license to print or republish their essay, with proper attribution given to the author. 


Direct questions regarding this Call for Essays to:

Ronora Stryker, Research Actuary

Society of Actuaries