Board Risk Committees: Insurer Financial Strength Ratings and Performance
board risk committee; financial strength rating; risk governance; return on equity
Journal of Accounting and Public Policy
We hypothesize and find that the existence of a board risk committee is positively related to A.M. Best’s Financial Strength Ratings, a measure widely used in the insurance industry to assess financial health. Using a sample of insurance firms from 2007 to 2013, we measure the impact of board risk committees on financial strength ratings and performance after controlling for various factors such as corporate governance characteristics. We find that firms with board risk committees report higher financial strength ratings, but only in the post-financial crisis period. Also, the formation of a board risk committee is positively associated with an increase in financial strength ratings from the year prior to committee formation to the year after committee formation. Further, we find that the presence of a board risk committee is not related to short-run firm performance benefits and that it takes five years for the presence of a board risk committee to be associated with future performance. Overall, our results provide evidence suggesting board risk committees are effective and beneficial from the standpoint of rating agencies and long-term financial performance.
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