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Analyzing Firm Performance in the Insurance Industry Using Frontier Efficiency Methods

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  • J. David Cummins
  • Mary A. Weiss

Abstract

In this introductory chapter to an upcoming book, the authors discuss the two principal types of efficiency frontier methodologies - the econometric (parametric) approach and the mathematical programming (non-parametric) approach. Frontier efficiency methodologies are discussed as useful in a variety of contexts: they can be used for testing economic hypotheses; providing guidance to regulators and policymakers; comparimg economic performance across countries; and informing management of the effects of procedures and strategies adapted by the firm. The econometric approach requires the specification of a production, cost, revenue, or profit function as well as assumptions about error terms. But this methodology is vulnerable to errors in the specification of the functional form or error term. The mathematical programming or linear programming approach avoids this type of error and measures any departure from the frontier as a relative inefficiency. Because each of these methods has advantages and disadvantages, it is recommended to estimate efficiency using more than one method. An important step in efficiency analysis is the definition of inputs and outputs and their prices. Insurer inputs can be classified into three principal groups: labor, business services and materials, and capital. Three principal approaches have been used to measure outputs in the financial services sector: the asset or intermediation approach, the user-cost approach, and the value-added approach. The asset approach treats firms as pure financial intermediaries and would be inappropriate for insurers because they provide other services. The user-cost method determines whether a financial product is an input or output based on its net contribution to the revenues of the firm. This method requires precise data on products, revenues and opportunity costs which are difficult to estimate in insurance. The value-added approach is judged the most appropriate method for studying insurance efficiency. it considers all asset and liability categories to have some output characteristics rather than distinguishing inputs from outputs. In order to measure efficiency in the insurance industry in which outputs are mostly intangible, measurable services must be defined. The three principal services provided by insurance companies are risk pooling and risk-bearing, "real" financial services relating to insured losses, and intermediation. The authors discuss how these services can be measured as outputs in value-added analysis. They then summarize existing efficiency literature.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania in its series Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers with number 98-22.

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Date of creation: Jul 1998
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Handle: RePEc:wop:pennin:98-22

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. J. David Cummins & Georges Dionne & Robert Gagné & Abdelhakim Nouira, 2006. "Efficiency of Insurance Firms with Endogenous Risk Management and Financial Intermediation Activities," Cahiers de recherche 0616, CIRPEE.
  2. Cummins, J. David & Rubio-Misas, Maria & Zi, Hongmin, 2004. "The effect of organizational structure on efficiency: Evidence from the Spanish insurance industry," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 3113-3150, December.
  3. J. David Cummins & Georges Dionne & Robert Gagné & Abdelhakim Nouira, 2008. "The Costs and Benefits of Reinsurance," Cahiers de recherche 08-04, HEC Montréal, Institut d'économie appliquée.
  4. Gustavo Ferro & Carlos A. Romero, 2011. "Comparación de medidas de cambio de productividad. Las aproximaciones de Malmquist y Luenberger en una aplicación al mercado de seguros," Working Papers hal-00597946, HAL.
  5. Allen N. Berger & Rebecca S. Demsetz & Philip E. Strahan, 1998. "The consolidation of the financial services industry: causes, consequences, and implications for the future," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-46, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Imed Limam, . "Measuring Technical Efficiency of Kuwait Banks," API-Working Paper Series 0101, Arab Planning Institute - Kuwait, Information Center.
  7. Jacob Bikker & Janko Gorter, 2008. "Performance of the Dutch non-life insurance industry: competition, efficiency and focus," DNB Working Papers 164, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  8. Shi, Peng & Frees, Edward W., 2010. "Long-tail longitudinal modeling of insurance company expenses," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 303-314, December.
  9. Bernhard Mahlberg & Thomas Url, . "The Transition to the Single Market in the German Insurance Industry," WIFO Working Papers 131, WIFO.
  10. Fitzpatrick, Trevor & McQuinn, Kieran, 2004. "Cost Efficiency in UK and Irish Credit Institutions," Research Technical Papers 3/RT/04, Central Bank of Ireland.
  11. Trevor Fitzpatrick & Kieran McQuinn, 2005. "Labour Cost Efficiency in UK and Irish Credit Institutions," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 36(1), pages 45–66.
  12. Weiss, Mary A. & Choi, Byeongyong Paul, 2008. "State regulation and the structure, conduct, efficiency and performance of US auto insurers," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 134-156, January.

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