Insurer ambiguity and market failure

Abstract

A series of studies investigate the decision processes of actuaries, underwriters, and reinsurers in setting premiums for ambiguous and uncertain risks. Survey data on prices reveal that all three types of these insurance decision makers are risk averse and ambiguity averse. In addition, groups appear to be influenced in their premium-setting decisions by specific reference points such as expected loss and the concern with insolvency. This behavior is consistent with a growing analytical and empirical literature in economics and decision processes that investigates the role that uncertainty plays on managerial choices. Improved risk-assessment procedures and government involvement in providing protection against catastrophic losses may induce insurers to reduce premiums and broaden available coverage.

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This article is part of a larger effort supported by the National Science Foundation on “The Role of Insurance, Compensation, Regulation, and Protective Behavior in Decision Making about Risk and Misfortune.” We greatly appreciate the many helpful comments and suggestions by our colleagues on the project: Jon Baron, Colin Camerer, Neil Doherty, Jack Hershey, Eric Johnson, and Paul Kleindorfer. Support from NSF Grant #SES8809299 is gratefully acknowledged.

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Kunreuther, H., Hogarth, R. & Meszaros, J. Insurer ambiguity and market failure. J Risk Uncertainty 7, 71–87 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01065315

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Key words

  • insurer ambiguity
  • uncertainty
  • market failure
  • decision making