Working Paper BETA #2004-14

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Title : Insurance and Financial Hedging of Oil Pollution Risks

Author(s) : André SCHMITT, Sandrine SPAETER

Abstract : The current international regime that regulates maritime oil transport calls for financial contributions by oil firms once an oil spill has occurred. Their percentage contribution to the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund depends only on their level of activity. In this paper, we show that this compensation regime would be more efficient if contributing oil companies adopted financial strategies to hedge against oil pollution risks. The optimal coverage contract is such that standard insurance is useful to manage small and medium oil spills, while investments on financial markets help to cover large oil spills, less frequent but much more catastrophic for society. We also show that the prevention of oil spills increases when insurance is combined with a financial hedging strategy. This positive effect on prevention is further enhanced if firms have the opportunity to send signals about their risk-reducing activities to potential investors.

Key-words : oil spill, legislation, insurance, capital markets, prevention, catastrophe.

JEL Classification : D80, G22, Q25.