Default Risk Premium – Meaning, Purpose And Calculation

Default risk premium or (DRP) represents the extra return that the borrower must pay the lender for assuming the extra or default risk. It has the most common use in the case of bonds. DRP compensates the investors or the lender if the borrower defaults on their debt.


Investors with poor credit records must pay a higher interest rate to borrow money. A lender will charge a higher DRP if they feel the borrower have a higher risk of being unable to pay the debt.

One can say that the DRP gives borrowers a greater incentive not to default on the debt. Without an adequate DRP, an investor would not invest in companies with a higher chance of default. By not defaulting on the debt, a company lowers its perceived default risk, and this, in turn, lowers the company’s future cost of raising capital.

Presumably, the government of a country does not pay a default premium. However, in unfavorable conditions, even the government had to pay higher yields to attract investors.

How to Calculate it?

DRP is basically a difference between the risk-free rate and the interest rate charged by the lender. For instance, if a company comes up with a 10-year bond at 6% and the comparable return from a U.S. Treasury bond of a 10-year maturity is 4%, then the DRP is 2%.

There is another more comprehensive way of calculating DRP. An interest rate comprises of several components, and DRP is one of those components. So, subtracting all the components (except for DRP) from the interest rate gives the DRP.

Usually, an interest rate is made of the following components – risk-free rate, inflation premium, liquidity premium (compensates for investing in less liquid securities like bonds), maturity premium (compensates for investing in securities that will mature many years into the future ) and DRP. So, DRP, in this case, is = Interest rate Less other interest components.

For example, Company A is issuing bonds at 8%. If the risk-free rate is 0.5%, inflation is 2%, liquidity premium and maturity premiums are both 1% each, then the DRP is (8% – (0.5%+2%1%+1%)) 3.5%.

Default Risk Premium

What Determines Default Risk Premium?


Usually, companies with lower-grade bonds or poor credit ratings pay more default premiums. Rating agencies like Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch rate the corporate bonds or companies on the basis of their financial performance. Better financial performance means more safety and, in turn, a higher credit rating.

A higher credit rating would lead to a lower default risk premium, which means investors would not get higher returns as the risk is less.

Credit History

If an individual or a company has paid previous debts in time and the interest payments, it suggests that the entity is trustworthy. Such entities are presumed to have lower default risk and thus, can borrow money at a lower interest rate. Similarly, the opposite is also true. A person with a poor credit history will have higher default risk, and thus, it has to pay a higher DRP.

Liquidity and Profitability

This is part of a company’s creditworthiness. Before giving a loan, a bank examines the company’s recent financial statements to determine the company’s profitability. This helps the bank to know if the entity will be able to pay the debt or not. Also, cash flows are examined to determine if the company is generating enough cash to meet the regular interest obligations.

Sanjay Borad

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

Sanjay Borad is the founder & CEO of eFinanceManagement. He is passionate about keeping and making things simple and easy. Running this blog since 2009 and trying to explain "Financial Management Concepts in Layman's Terms".

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