Trade credit insurance

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Trade credit insurance, business credit insurance, export credit insurance, or credit insurance is an insurance policy and a risk management product offered by private insurance companies and governmental export credit agencies to business entities wishing to protect their accounts receivable from loss due to credit risks such as protracted default, insolvency or bankruptcy. This insurance product is a type of property and casualty insurance, and should not be confused with such products as credit life or credit disability insurance, which individuals obtain to protect against the risk of loss of income needed to pay debts. Trade credit insurance can include a component of political risk insurance which is offered by the same insurers to insure the risk of non-payment by foreign buyers due to currency issues, political unrest, expropriation etc.

In insurance, the insurance policy is a contract between the insurer and the insured, known as the policyholder, which determines the claims which the insurer is legally required to pay. In exchange for an initial payment, known as the premium, the insurer promises to pay for loss caused by perils covered under the policy language.

Risk management Set of measures for the systematic identification, analysis, assessment, monitoring and control of risks

Risk management is the identification, evaluation, and prioritization of risks followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimize, monitor, and control the probability or impact of unfortunate events or to maximize the realization of opportunities.

An export credit agency or investment insurance agency is a private or quasi-governmental institution that acts as an intermediary between national governments and exporters to issue export financing. The financing can take the form of credits or credit insurance and guarantees or both, depending on the mandate the ECA has been given by its government. ECAs can also offer credit or cover on their own account. This does not differ from normal banking activities. Some agencies are government-sponsored, others private, and others a combination of the two.

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This points to the major role trade credit insurance plays in facilitating international trade. Trade credit is offered by vendors to their customers as an alternative to prepayment or cash on delivery terms, providing time for the customer to generate income from sales to pay for the product or service. This requires the vendor to assume non-payment risk. In a local or domestic situation as well as in an export transaction, the risk increases when laws, customs communications and customer's reputation are not fully understood. In addition to increased risk of non-payment, international trade presents the problem of the time between product shipment and its availability for sale. The account receivable is like a loan and represents capital invested, and often borrowed, by the vendor. But this is not a secure asset until it is paid. If the customer's debt is credit insured the large, risky asset becomes more secure, like an insured building. This asset may then be viewed as collateral by lending institutions and a loan based upon it used to defray the expenses of the transaction and to produce more product. Trade credit insurance is, therefore, a trade finance tool.

International trade Exchanges across international borders

International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories.

Trade credit is the credit extended by one trader to another when the goods and services are bought on credit. Trade credit facilitates the purchase of supplies without immediate payment. Trade credit is commonly used by business organisations as a source of short-term financing. It is granted to those customers who have a reasonable amount of financial standing and goodwill.

Cash on delivery method of package delivery where payment is made upon receipt

Cash on delivery (COD), sometimes called collect on delivery, is the sale of goods by mail order where payment is made on delivery rather than in advance. If the goods are not paid for, they are returned to the retailer. Originally, the term applied only to payment by cash but as other forms of payment have become more common, the word "cash" has sometimes been replaced with the word "collect" to include transactions by checks, credit cards or debit cards.

Trade credit insurance is purchased by business entities to insure their accounts receivable from loss due to the insolvency of the debtors. The product is not available to individuals. The cost (premium) for this is usually charged monthly, and are calculated as a percentage of sales for that month or as a percentage of all outstanding receivables.

Trade credit insurance usually covers a portfolio of buyers and pays an agreed percentage of an invoice or receivable that remains unpaid as a result of protracted default, insolvency or bankruptcy. Policy holders must apply a credit limit on each of their buyers for the sales to that buyer to be insured. The premium rate reflects the average credit risk of the insured portfolio of buyers. In addition, credit insurance can also cover single transactions or trade with only one buyer.

A credit limit is the maximum amount of credit that a financial institution or other lender will extend to a debtor for a particular line of credit.

History

Trade credit insurance was born at the end of the nineteenth century, but it was mostly developed in Western Europe between the First and Second World Wars. Several companies were founded in many countries; some of them also managed the political risks of export on behalf of their state.

Following the privatisation of the short-term side of the UK's Export Credits Guarantee Department in 1991, a concentration of the trade credit insurance market took place and three groups now account for over 85% of the global credit insurance market. These main players focused on Western Europe, but rapidly expanded towards Eastern Europe, Asia and the Americas:

Euler Hermes bank

Euler Hermes is a credit insurance company that offers a wide range of bonding, guarantees and collections services for the management of business-to-business trade receivables.

Natixis is a French corporate and investment bank created in November 2006 from the merger of the asset management and investment banking operations of Natexis Banque Populaire and IXIS.

Atradius company

Atradius provides trade credit insurance, surety and collections services worldwide through a presence in more than 50 countries around the globe. It is the credit insurance arm of Grupo Catalana Occidente (GCO.MC). Credit insurance, bonding and collections products help protect companies throughout the world from payment risks associated with selling products and services on trade credit. In 2018 the company had revenues of EUR 1,9 billion.

Many variations of trade credit insurance have evolved ranging from coverage that can be canceled or reduced at an insurers discretion, to coverage that cannot be canceled or reduced by the insurer during the policy period. Other programs may allow the policy holder to act as the underwriter.

While trade credit insurance is often mostly known for protecting foreign or export accounts receivable, there has always been a large segment of the market that uses Trade Credit Insurance for domestic accounts receivable protection as well. Domestic trade credit insurance provides companies with the protection they need as their customer base consolidates creating larger receivables to fewer customers. This further creates a larger exposure and greater risk if a customer does not pay their accounts. The addition of new insurers in this area have increased the availability of domestic cover for companies.

Many businesses found that their insurers withdrew trade credit insurance during the late-2000s financial crisis, foreseeing large losses if they continued to underwrite sales to failing businesses. This led to accusations that the insurers were deepening and prolonging the recession, as businesses could not afford the risk of making sales without the insurance, and therefore contracted in size or had to close. Insurers countered these criticisms by claiming that they were not the cause of the crisis, but were responding to economic reality and ringing the alarm bells. [2]

In 2009, the UK government set up a short-term £5 billion Trade Credit Top-up emergency fund. However, this was considered a failure, as the take-up was very low. [2]

See also

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Accounts receivable legally enforceable claim for payment to a business by its customer/ clients for goods supplied and/or services rendered in execution of the customer’s order

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Compagnie Française dAssurance pour le Commerce Extérieur

Coface is a credit insurer operating globally, offering companies solutions to protect them against the risk of financial default of their clients, both in their domestic and export market. In complement to credit insurance, Coface also offers debt collection services, factoring and business information, as well as bonds.

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The International Credit Insurance & Surety Association (ICISA) was founded in April 1928, forming the first trade credit insurance association. The Association is registered in Zurich (Switzerland) under Swiss Civil Code. The Secretariat is based in Amsterdam.

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Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India

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Trade finance financing for trade

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Credendo is the official Belgian export credit agency. Backed by the Belgian state. its mission is to promote international trade relations providing companies and banks medium-term and long-term trade credit insurance cover against political and commercial risks worldwide. The transactions insured mainly relate to capital goods and industrial projects, as well as contracted works and services.

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