What is a Property and Casualty Actuary?

You know that CAS is the premier professional organization for credentialing property and casualty actuaries. But what IS a property and casualty actuary? The CAS defines a property and casualty actuary as “a professional skilled in the analysis, evaluation and management of the financial implications of future contingent events primarily with respect to general insurance, including property, casualty, and similar risk exposures. A [property and] casualty actuary has practical knowledge of how these various risks interact with each other and the environment in which these risks occur.”

To lend more insight into the profession, we asked CAS members to provide their own definitions of a property and casualty actuary.

Matthew Jewczyn, FCAS

Analytics and Research Director, Travelers 

Continually responding to emerging risks, an ever-changing environment, technological advances, and improved analytical methods, a property and casualty actuary is a lifelong learner.

 

Jerry Tuttle, FCAS

Senior Pricing Actuary, Platinum Underwriters Reinsurance

I believe that the following definition applies to all actuaries: “That professional who is trained in evaluating the current financial implications of future contingent events.

 –  Fred Kilbourne

Property and casualty actuaries commonly work in pricing, where they calculate the price for an insurance premium for the policy that has not yet been sold; or in reserving, where they calculate the amount to set aside as a liability to pay for the claims that will still be paid on the policies that have been sold. However, property and casualty actuaries also work in many other specializations and are not limited to working in the insurance industry.

I think what makes property and casualty actuaries unique is not so much the work they do, but rather the business of property and casualty. Recently, the business has had many new fields emerge, such as terrorism, cyber-terrorism, wildfires, massive toxic torts, social media liability, climate change, school violence, self-driving cars, nanotechnology, and fracking.

Elizabeth Merritt, FCAS

AVP & Actuary in Business Insights, Zurich North America 

When I think of what property and casualty means to me, I would say it is a fast paced, ever changing environment that has to keep up with the rest of the world. Just think about how technology has changed in the last 20-30 years. Websites weren't as common, smart phones didn't exist, medical records were not digital, and credit card companies didn't have their customer information in a digital format. The holders, designers, and manufacturers of this information and these products need insurance to protect themselves and their customers. Actuaries are pivotal in deciding what we are to charge for such coverage. Similarly, natural (and unnatural) catastrophes can dramatically change how we assess risk and what we charge our customers. It's part of the responsibility of the actuaries to model and plan for these events to fund for these losses in the future. Property and casualty spans a wide range of lines of business, from property to workers compensation, from medical malpractice to personal auto. Literally every person and every business requires some form of property and casualty insurance. Because of the breadth of products we work on and the myriad analyses we can do, you will continue to learn throughout your career and it is impossible to get bored.

Randy Oja, FCAS

Senior Actuary, Church Mutual Insurance Company 

A property and casualty actuary helps build and implement predictive models to assess the risk characteristics of an individual account and use this information (or score) to help price the product to ensure we are collecting an adequate amount of premium for the risks present in each account.  A significant part of successfully implementing the model is to be able to effectively communicate how the model works and the overall scoring process to non-actuaries (i.e. underwriters, sales representatives, and others).

Tracey Steger, FCAS

Director of Research, The Hartford 

Property and casualty actuaries are insurance specialists who use analytics to solve business problems.  You’ll find us working not only in traditional actuarial departments, such as pricing and reserving, but also throughout the organization including underwriting, finance, claims, research and operations.

 

Gordon Hay, FCAS

Senior Casualty Actuarial Examiner, Nebraska Insurance Department 

My definition emphasizes concrete repetitive practice in the property and casualty business.

The CAS has a single-track exam system. We don’t study every product and don’t delve into “non-traditional roles.” We get a shared language, but the shared education doesn’t define us. We have explicit ratemaking and reserving principles and standards of practice – there are virtually no prescriptive models, methods or assumptions for property and casualty pricing or reserving. Final prices and booked reserves are generally decided by management and not by an actuary. A property and casualty actuary’s authority is not supported by regulation, position or prescribed methods. The power of a property and casualty actuary is limited to his/her ability to persuade others.

Becoming a property and casualty actuary comes down to the product and financial context ultimately, property and casualty actuaries help management to consistently achieve a desired balance of growth and profit. Property and casualty products characteristically – perhaps in an idealized world:

  • Renew annually, with an option to re-underwrite and re-price
  • Generate liabilities with a relatively short duration
  • Generate claim frequencies and severities that are manageable in aggregate
  • Protect policyholders against events that they see as threatening and unpredictable

The property and casualty financial context – again idealized:

  • Losses and adjustment expenses are the largest liabilities on the balance sheet – property and casualty “reserving” refers broadly to the periodic estimation of those liabilities
  • Unreliable reserve estimates produce unreliable financial reports. Accurately estimated liabilities help provide a solid basis for confident management.