Minimum Capital Test For Federally Regulated Property and Casualty Insurance Companies

Document Properties

  • Type of Publication: Letter
  • Date: November 30, 2018
  • To: All Federally Regulated Property and Casualty Insurance Companies

OSFI is releasing a revised Minimum Capital Test (MCT) Guideline for federally regulated property and casualty (P&C) insurers. The MCT 2019 guideline incorporates changes to reflect OSFI’s review of the framework for reinsurance, International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 16, and the amendments to Guideline B-5 – Asset Securitization.

We would like to thank the stakeholders who provided comments during the public consultation period in June-August 2018. OSFI appreciates the collaboration, time and support of everyone in helping to refine the regulatory capital framework. Appendix A summarizes comments received and includes OSFI responses.

Key changes to the MCT guideline, compared to the June 2018 draft version, include:

  • The introduction of a transition period for the increase in the margin required for reinsurance ceded to unregistered reinsurers from 15% to 20%.
  • Amendments to allow the return of excess funds withheld or collateral associated with reinsurance ceded to unregistered reinsurers.
  • The addition of three credit rating agencies to the list of recognized rating agencies.

Please address any comments or enquiries regarding the MCT to Judith Roberge, Director, Property and Casualty Insurance Capital, at 613-990-4412 or


Carolyn Rogers
Assistant Superintendent
Regulation Sector


Summary of Comments and OSFI Responses
Draft Minimum Capital Test 2019 Guideline
Consultation period ended August 16, 2018



1. General Comments

OSFI should review all reinsurance changes proposed in the discussion paper together to assess impacts and implement any changes in the MCT effective for 2020 rather than 2019.

As part of its review of the reinsurance framework, OSFI identified measures that address concerns related to specific reinsurance practices. OSFI plans to implement changes in three phases. The changes to the MCT guideline fall under the first and the third phases of implementation.  The first phase will be effective in 2019 and 2020. We will consider third phase changes for future updates to the MCT.

2. Leases

Risk charge of 10% on owner-occupied premises

  1. As there are differences in the risks of owning versus leasing property, the same capital charge should not apply to both cases.
  2. Changes in accounting standards do not introduce new risks; therefore, there should be no impact on capital requirements.
  1. We agree that the risk exposure of leasing and owning property may be different. The accounting standard reflects that difference. For example, only a portion of a right-of-use asset’s economic life is recognized on the balance sheet and capital requirement calculations pick up the carrying amount of the property (i.e. the risk exposure), whether leased or owned. The risk factor applied to leased property is intended to capture risks associated with leasing such as early lease cancellation and related penalties (which can vary considerably from lease to lease), as well as costs associated with renegotiating or finding a new lease or changes in market rates. OSFI believes the risk factor of 10% is appropriate for these risks. OSFI agrees that the risk assessed is not credit risk and the treatment of right-of-use assets are now included in chapter 5 – Market Risk.
  2. OSFI supports the IFRS 16 approach whereby balance sheet amounts include right-of use assets and lease liabilities as this better reflects the financial position of the insurers.  In our opinion, prior to the implementation of IFRS 16, both the accounting standards and OSFI’s capital requirements did not adequately recognize these exposures.

Option to extend the lease

Including the option to extend the property lease in the calculation of the risk charge is not a reasonable approach from a risk and capital management perspective because an option to extend (or terminate) a lease is not a legal commitment and it does not represent an obligation on the part of the company, financial or otherwise.

The accounting standard states that the lessee must be reasonably certain to exercise the option to extend the property lease to include it in the carrying value of the right-of-use asset. It is our understanding that once the lessee has determined that renewing the lease is economically and financially better than terminating the lease and it becomes “reasonably certain” that it will exercise the option to renew, only then must the insurer reflect that term of the lease in the right-of-use asset.  It is our opinion that the value of the lease term included in the right-of-use asset is equally relevant for capital purposes.

3. Credit Risk

Asset Securitization

OSFI intends to publish an updated B-5 guideline “Asset Securitization” at a later date in 2018. It would have been useful to publish a draft concurrent with the draft MCT to review for consistency and therefore provide comments that may be applicable to both.

OSFI released the Draft Guideline B-5 Asset Securitization for public consultation on September 14th, 2018.

As part of the amendments, we updated the capital requirements, i.e. transferred the credit risk factors for securitized assets from Guideline B-5 to the MCT 2019 guideline. The remaining amendments were to update the general expectations with respect to asset securitization transactions, which reflect events that have occurred since the last update in 2004

External Credit Rating

Unsolicited credit ratings are of equal quality to solicited credit ratings. To the extent OSFI continues to use external credit ratings for regulatory purposes, including in the MCT Guideline, the use of unsolicited ratings should not be restricted.

OSFI conducted a review of the treatment of unsolicited ratings in 2013. This review led to changes permitting a limited use of unsolicited ratings for sovereign exposures when a solicited rating is not available. OSFI believes this position remains appropriate.

4. Insurance Risk

Funds withheld

The restriction is acceptable. However, we suggest revising the condition to allow for return of excess funds withheld other than those funds that are in excess of the amount required for the ceding insurer to obtain credit for reinsurance in accordance with the terms of the arrangement, which is industry practice.

OSFI has revised the condition to allow the payment of funds withheld that are in excess of the ceded policy liabilities and margin required.

Counterparty Credit Risk

  1. The risk factors are unjustifiably high and not commensurate with the risk of non-payment by associated registered reinsurers that tend to be entities that are well managed and highly rated.
  2. Companies that use reinsurance arrangements within a group for business reasons that are not approved by OSFI or are not pooling arrangements are penalized.
  3. Are the new requirements applicable only to risks ceded to associated FRIs after January 1, 2019?
  1. OSFI is of the view that the counterparty credit risk of an associated federally regulated reinsurer (FRI) is the same as an unassociated FRI. Therefore, OSFI has established the risk factors for both at the same level.
  2. The receivables and recoverables from entities that are part of an OSFI-approved intra-group pooling arrangement are exempt from the application of the risk factor until OSFI has completed its review.
  3. The counterparty credit risk charge on reinsurance assets due from registered associated reinsurers will apply to balances reported on the balance sheet starting January 1, 2019.

Unregistered Reinsurance Margin Required

OSFI should provide the rationale for the increase of the margin required from 15% to 20%. Further increases to collateral requirements will affect reinsurance capacity and increase costs. It also affects global programs. If OSFI proceeds with the change, the change should be applied prospectively as contracts for existing reinsurance arrangements were negotiated with a 15% collateral requirement.

As detailed in the Discussion Paper on OSFI’s Reinsurance Framework, OSFI does not regulate unregistered reinsurers; these are not subject to the same legislative requirements, supervision or capital requirements as federally regulated insurers. Given that regulated insurers operate at a higher target capital ratio than the current 150% margin required for cessions to unregistered reinsurers, we increased the margin required to better align with the capital levels maintained by federally regulated insurers.

To determine the 20% rate of the margin required, OSFI reviewed the operating capital ratios and internal capital targets of insurers over a number of periods and applied supervisory judgement. OSFI finds that the revised margin requirement better aligns the collateral needed to support insurance risk with the capital requirements of regulated insurers.

The margin-required increase is subject to a transition period.

30% Limit on the Use of Letters of Credit as Collateral for Unregistered Reinsurance

The MCT limits the use of LOCs to obtain capital credit for unregistered reinsurance to 30% of ceded liabilities. OSFI has indicated that the limit is based, in part, on legal advice provided to OSFI concerning the security of LOCs.  However, some Canadian insurers have received legal advice to the contrary. In addition, regulators in many jurisdictions do not impose a limit on the use of LOCs.

Additional actions are required to convert an LOC to liquid assets available to pay claims. OSFI reviewed the limit in the past and, based on the information presented at the time, decided to maintain the 30% limit. Comments provided did not include any new or compelling information: OSFI does not intend to review this matter further.

Unregistered Reinsurance Margin Calculation

If insurers hold excess collateral, they could be penalized with a capital charge in the MCT calculation depending on the type of collateral held as excess collateral. OSFI should require insurers to use assets that attract the lowest capital charge up to the margin requirements and any excess collateral would be excluded from the calculation.

An alternative approach is to calculate the margin requirements using the credit rating of the reinsurer similar to the methodology used for credit risk charges for investments. A sliding scale could be implemented with 120% applied to the lowest credit rating of a reinsurer.

OSFI will review the proposals for a future update of the MCT guideline.


OSFI should reconsider two of the requirements governing foreign insurers’ ability to include amounts due from federally regulated insurers and reinsurers in net assets available. The two requirements of an executed, written, bilateral netting contract or agreement and written and reasoned legal opinions are unnecessary and burdensome.

Foreign insurers cannot vest amounts due from federally regulated insurers. Therefore, OSFI believes that both the netting agreement and the legal opinions are necessary to provide contractual and legal certainty to minimize disputes over how the amounts owed or due are determined in, for example, a period when the insurer is under stress or in liquidation.