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Cartels, Competition and Regulation in the Property-Liability Insurance Industry

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  • Paul L. Joskow

Abstract

This paper provides a detailed study of the structure, behavior, and performance of the property and liability insurance industry in the United States. This property insurance industry is shown to possess all of the structural characteristics normally associated with competitive markets. Despite a competitive market structure, however, the property-liability insurance industry has traditionally set prices through cartel-like rating bureaus and has been subjected to pervasive state rate regulation. The study concludes that the combination of state regulation, cartel pricing, and other legal peculiarities has resulted in the use of an inefficient sales technique, supply shortages, and over-capitalization. Free entry, however, tends to drive profits toward the cost of capital. Based on recent experience in states where the competitive market is used to determine insurance rates, the study suggests a movement away from rate regulation and cartel pricing to open competition, as a means of eliminating prevailing performance problems.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by The RAND Corporation in its journal Bell Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 4 (1973)
Issue (Month): 2 (Autumn)
Pages: 375-427

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Handle: RePEc:rje:bellje:v:4:y:1973:i:autumn:p:375-427

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Cited by:
  1. Michael Powers & Martin Shubik & Shun Yao, 1998. "Insurance market games: Scale effects and public policy," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 67(2), pages 109-134, June.
  2. Vittas, Dimitri & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Musalem, Alberto, 1993. "North American free trade agreement : issues on trade in financial services for Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1153, The World Bank.
  3. Biener, Christian & Eling, Martin & Schmit, Joan T., 2014. "Regulation in Microinsurance Markets: Principles, Practice, and Directions for Future Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 21-40.
  4. Susan J. Suponcic & Sharon Tennyson, 1995. "Rate Regulation and the Industrial Organization of Automobile Insurance," NBER Working Papers 5275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Trigo Gamarra, Lucinda, 2007. "Does the product quality hypothesis hold true? Service quality differences between independent and exclusive insurance agents," Thuenen-Series of Applied Economic Theory 76, University of Rostock, Institute of Economics.
  6. Trigo Gamarra, Lucinda, 2007. "Single- versus multi-channel distribution strategies in the German life insurance market: A cost and profit efficiency analysis," Thuenen-Series of Applied Economic Theory 81, University of Rostock, Institute of Economics.
  7. Mitsukuni Nishida, 2014. "The costs of zoning regulations in retail chains: the case of the City Planning Act of 1968 in Japan," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 45(3), pages 305-328, June.
  8. Allen N. Berger & J. David Cummins & Mary A. Weiss, 1995. "The Coexistence of Multiple Distributions Systems for Financial Services: The Case of Property-Liability Insurance," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 95-13, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  9. Lawrence J. White, 2008. "Antitrust Policy and Industrial Policy: A View from the U.S," Working Papers 08-2, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  10. Nishida, Mitsukuni & Gil, Ricard, 2014. "Regulation, enforcement, and entry: Evidence from the Spanish local TV industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 11-23.
  11. Damian Ward, 2003. "Can Independent Distribution Function as a Mode of Corporate Governance?: An Examination of the UK Life Insurance Market," Journal of Management and Governance, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 361-384, December.
  12. Sharon Tennyson, 2007. "Efficiency Consequences of Rate Regulation in Insurance Markets," NFI Policy Briefs 2007-PB-03, Indiana State University, Scott College of Business, Networks Financial Institute.
  13. Mark Israel, 2005. "Services as Experience Goods: An Empirical Examination of Consumer Learning in Automobile Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1444-1463, December.
  14. J. Cummins & Xiaoying Xie, 2013. "Efficiency, productivity, and scale economies in the U.S. property-liability insurance industry," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 141-164, April.
  15. J. David Cummins & Giuseppe Turchetti, 1996. "Productivity and Technical Efficiency in the Italian Insurance Industry," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 96-10, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  16. Posey, Lisa L. & Tennyson, Sharon, 1998. "The coexistence of distribution systems under price search: Theory and some evidence from insurance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 95-115, March.

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