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Is Imprecise Knowledge Better than Conflicting Expertise? Evidence from Insurers’ Decisions in the United States

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Abstract

Testing whether risk professionals (here insurers) behave differently under risk and ambiguity when they cover catastrophic risks (floods and earthquakes) and non-catastrophic risks (fires), this paper reports the results of the first field experiment in the United States designed to distinguish two sources of ambiguity: imprecise ambiguity (outside experts agree on a range of probability, but not on any point estimate) versus conflict ambiguity (each expert group provides precise probability estimates which differ from one group to another). Insurers charge higher premiums when faced with ambiguity than when the probability of a loss is well specified. Furthermore they charge more for conflict ambiguity than imprecise ambiguity for flood and hurricane hazards, but less so in the case of fire. The source of ambiguity also impacts causal inferences insurers make to reduce their uncertainty.

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File URL: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/~lizecon/RePEc/bbr/pdf/7.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Centre for Behavioural Business Research in its series ICBBR Working Papers with number 7.

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Date of creation: 23 Feb 2010
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Handle: RePEc:bbr:workpa:7

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Keywords: Ambiguity; Source of Uncertainty; Insurance Pricing; Decision-Making;

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  1. W. Viscusi & Harrell Chesson, 1999. "Hopes and Fears: the Conflicting Effects of Risk Ambiguity," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 157-184, October.
  2. Kunreuther, Howard & Meszaros, Jacqueline & Hogarth, Robin M. & Spranca, Mark, 1995. "Ambiguity and underwriter decision processes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 337-352, May.
  3. Budescu, David V. & Rantilla, Adrian K. & Yu, Hsiu-Ting & Karelitz, Tzur M., 2003. "The effects of asymmetry among advisors on the aggregation of their opinions," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 178-194, January.
  4. Hogarth, Robin M & Kunreuther, Howard, 1989. " Risk, Ambiguity, and Insurance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 5-35, April.
  5. Dwight Jaffee & Howard Kunreuther & Erwann Michel-Kerjan, 2008. "Long Term Insurance (LTI) for Addressing Catastrophe Risk," NBER Working Papers 14210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Viscusi, W Kip, 1997. "Alarmist Decisions with Divergent Risk Information," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1657-70, November.
  7. Heath, Chip & Tversky, Amos, 1991. " Preference and Belief: Ambiguity and Competence in Choice under Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 5-28, January.
  8. Camerer, Colin & Weber, Martin, 1992. " Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 325-70, October.
  9. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Aurelien Baillon & Laetitia Placido & Peter P. Wakker, 2011. "The Rich Domain of Uncertainty: Source Functions and Their Experimental Implementation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 695-723, April.
  10. Viscusi, W Kip & Magat, Wesley A, 1992. " Bayesian Decisions with Ambiguous Belief Aversion," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 371-87, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Jean Desrochers & J. Francois Outreville, 2013. "Uncertainty, Ambiguity and Risk Taking: an experimental investigation of consumer behavior and demand for insurance," ICER Working Papers 10-2013, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
  2. Thibault Gajdos & Jean-Christophe Vergnaud, 2013. "Decisions with conflicting and imprecise information," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 427-452, July.
  3. Howard Kunreuther & Geoffrey Heal & Myles Allen & Ottmar Edenhofer & Christopher B. Field & Gary Yohe, 2012. "Risk Management and Climate Change," NBER Working Papers 18607, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Aurélien Baillon & Laure Cabantous & Peter Wakker, 2012. "Aggregating imprecise or conflicting beliefs: An experimental investigation using modern ambiguity theories," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 44(2), pages 115-147, April.
  5. Théodora Dupont-Courtade, 2012. "Insurance demand under ambiguity and conflict for extreme risks : Evidence from a large representative survey," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00718642, HAL.
  6. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00718642 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Théodora Dupont-Courtade, 2012. "Insurance demand under ambiguity and conflict for extreme risks: Evidence from a large representative survey," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 12020, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.

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