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Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 167–176 | Cite as

The Influence of Compensation on Product Recommendations Made by Insurance Agents

  • William R. Cupach
  • James M. Carson
Article

Abstract

Lawsuits alleging illegal and unethical insurance sales practices have received widespread publicity in recent years. Although many observers have argued that one source of ethical conflicts for insurance agents is the industry's reliance on straight commission compensation, there remains a paucity of empirical data to support the claim. Therefore, we tested whether different forms of compensation influence insurance agent recommendations of products. We obtained survey responses from 336 insurance agents. Respondents were presented with a composite sketch of a hypothetical client. Following this description, they were asked to identify which one of eight specified life insurance products they would recommend to the client. A between-groups design was employed to manipulate differences in compensation associated with the eight products. Results indicated that neither amount of coverage nor type of coverage (term life versus cash value) recommended was associated with compensation. However, an unanticipated finding was that amount of coverage recommended was significantly higher when the insured was male than when the insured was female.

agent-client relations commission compensation conflict of interests incentives insurance sales 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • William R. Cupach
    • 1
  • James M. Carson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of CommunicationIllinois State UniversityNormalU.S.A.
  2. 2.Dept. of Risk Management/Insurance, Real Estate and Business LawFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeU.S.A.

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