Insurance Companies vs. Banks: Comparing and Differentiating

Aug 23, 2022 By Susan Kelly


The Financial Stability Board is now focusing on insurance firms, having finished its regulatory framework for systemically important banks. The final stages of the emerging framework for insurers, including the design and calibration of capital surcharges, are very similar to those for banks. This column argues that the banking model of capital cannot be applied to insurance due to the fundamental differences between the two industries' business models and balance sheet structures, as well as the roles of capital, leverage, and risk absorption. Capital levies are not the only option for addressing potential worries about systemic risk. The era of insurance regulation is changing. The Financial Stability Board (FSB) is considering regulating criteria for insurance groups that it regards as systemically important. In THis article we will compare; Insurance Companies vs. Banks.

Differences Between Banks And Insurers Regarding Their Systemic Role

Association Between Institutions

Banks are different from insurers in terms of systemic risk primarily because banks are integrated within a system (the financial system). Unsecured and secured interbank lending are essential components of banks' business models, exposing their balance sheets to one another. Another piece of evidence that banks rely on a broader system is the presence of a central bank.

There is no centralized insurance company; instead, it comprises numerous small enterprises. Akin to a "central bank," a "insurance system" does not exist. It has been hypothesized that the insurance and reinsurance sector functions similarly to the banking sector. However, this comparison overlooks reinsurers, which cover just a tiny percentage of the significant risks that insurers assume. Munich Re's €105 billion1 in assets is tiny compared to the world's largest central banks (Baur et al., 2003).

Evolution Into Adulthood

Leverage and maturity transformation are two tools banks use to shift funds from short- to long-term investments. Insurers do not typically alter the maturity of a policy. They are debt-oriented investors who prioritize meeting their financial commitments when making investment decisions. A common stereotype about insurers is that they are "deep-pocketed" investors, thanks to the reliability of their finances. Consequently, their reaction to falling market conditions differs significantly from that of a short-term funded or leveraged investor.

Financial Insolvency

The insurance industry does not face the same liquidity risks as the banking sector (Allen and Gale, 2000). Unlike banks, insurance companies are unlikely to run out of money. A bank's primary asset is the money its customers deposit with them. Therefore, most liabilities maintained by banks are temporary, subject to early withdrawal, and held solely in trust.

As a result, fewer insurance claims are filed on behalf of missing people. General liability, property, casualty, and health insurance plans are not subject to cancellation at the policyholder's whim. That is to say, they have to deal with things outside the hands of the insurance policyholder. In theory, only the non-annuity parts of a life insurance company's business are susceptible to callability. However, penalties and the loss of tax benefits are common when funds are withdrawn early.

Uses of Money, Credit, and Payments

Money transfers, credit creation, and the creation of fiat money are all services banks provide. In a capitalist system, they provide two essential functions: as a medium of exchange and a means of facilitating trade. The Eurozone's total money supply, as measured by M3, is €9.9 trillion, with bank deposits accounting for 85 percent of this total. Insurance company obligations are a type of illiquid financial claim. In addition, insurers provide fewer services than banks and are less critical to the overall financial system. Specifically, they do not serve any function within the framework of the settlement or payment systems.

Regulatory Authority

There are separate agencies in charge of banking and insurance. The office of the Comptroller of the Currency regulates national banks and their affiliates (OCC). Members of the Federal Reserve System, including state-chartered banks, are subject to regulations established by the Federal Reserve Board. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures other state-chartered banks. Several different state banking agencies govern the state banks. Contrary to popular belief, insurance firms are not governed by any central government. They are instead managed by a network of state guaranty associations across the 50 states. In the event of an insurance business failure, the state guaranty company will pool resources from other insurance providers in the state to compensate policyholders.


When considering monitoring systemic risk in the financial system, it seems sensible to begin with banks, as they are frequently viewed as the prototypical financial institution. Considering that banks are at the center of the financial system (the central bank) and function inside a highly interconnected banking system fraught with contagion and systemic hazards, this is understandable.

Susan Kelly Aug 01, 2023

Understanding The Importance of Schedule K-1 in Your Tax Filing Process

Triston Martin Sep 19, 2022

Procedures To Write an Invoice for Services Rendered

Susan Kelly Aug 23, 2022

Insurance Companies vs. Banks: Comparing and Differentiating

Susan Kelly Aug 28, 2023

How Do Bond Ratings Work?

Edward Weston Jul 05, 2021

You and your car, which one is more valuable?

Susan Kelly Jan 12, 2023

Which Student Loan Rate Is Best For You