Pricing and Hedging the Guaranteed Minimum Withdrawal Benefits in Variable Annuities
The Guaranteed Minimum Withdrawal Benefits (GMWBs) are optional riders provided by insurance companies in variable annuities. They guarantee the policyholders' ability to get the initial investment back by making periodic withdrawals regardless of the impact of poor market performance. With GMWBs attached, variable annuities become more attractive. This type of guarantee can be challenging to price and hedge. We employ two approaches to price GMWBs. Under the constant static withdrawal assumption, the first approach is to decompose the GMWB and the variable annuity into an arithmetic average strike Asian call option and an annuity certain. The second approach is to treat the GMWB alone as a put option whose maturity and payoff are random. Hedging helps insurers specify and manage the risks of writing GMWBs, as well as find their fair prices. We propose semi-static hedging strategies that offer several advantages over dynamic hedging. The idea is to construct a portfolio of European options that replicate the conditional expected GMWB liability in a short time period, and update the portfolio after the options expire. This strategy requires fewer portfolio adjustments, and outperforms the dynamic strategy when there are random jumps in the underlying price. We also extend the semi-static hedging strategies to the Heston stochastic volatility model.