Special Statement for Uncovered Options Writers

There are special risks associated with uncovered options writing which expose the investor to potentially significant loss. Therefore, this type of strategy may not be suitable for all customers approved for options transactions.

  1. The potential loss of uncovered call writing is unlimited. The writer of an uncovered call is in an extremely risky position, and may incur large losses if the value of the underlying instrument increases above the exercise price.
  2. As with writing uncovered calls, the risk of writing uncovered put options is substantial. The writer of an uncovered put option bears a risk of loss if the value of the underlying instrument declines below the exercise price. Such loss could be substantial if there is a significant decline in the value of the underlying instrument.
  3. Uncovered options writing is thus suitable only for the knowledgeable investor who understands the risks, has the financial capacity and willingness to incur potentially substantial losses, and has sufficient liquid assets to meet applicable margin requirements. In this regard, if the value of the underlying instrument moves against an uncovered writer’s options position, the investor’s broker may request significant additional margin payments. If an investor does not make such margin payments, the broker may liquidate stock or options positions in the investor’s account with little or no prior notice in accordance with the investor’s margin agreement.
  4. For combination writing, where the investor writes both a put and a call on the same underlying instrument, the potential risk is unlimited.
  5. If a secondary market in options were to become unavailable, investors could not engage in closing transactions, and an options writer would remain obligated until expiration or assignment.
  6. The writer of an American-style option is subject to being assigned an exercise at any time after he has written the option until the option expires. By contrast, the writer of a European-style option is subject to exercise assignment only during the exercise period.

It is expected that you read the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options booklet, which we have provided to you and can be found at etrade.com/optionsagree. In particular, please direct your attention to the chapter entitled Principal Risks of Options Positions. This statement is not intended to enumerate all of the risk entailed in writing uncovered options.