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(Over)insuring Modest Risks


  • Justin Sydnor


Despite the large literature on anomalies in risky choice, very little research has explored the relevance of these insights in real insurance markets. This paper uses new data on consumers' choices of deductibles for home insurance to provide evidence that a surprising level of risk aversion over modest stakes is a reality in the market. Most customers purchase low deductibles despite costs significantly above the expected value. Fitting these choices to a standard model of risk aversion yields implausibly large measures of risk parameters. Potential explanations and the implications of these results for understanding the market for insurance are discussed. (JEL D14, D81, G21, G22)

Suggested Citation

  • Justin Sydnor, 2010. "(Over)insuring Modest Risks," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 177-199, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:2:y:2010:i:4:p:177-99 Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.2.4.177

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cicchetti, Charles J & Dubin, Jeffrey A, 1994. "A Microeconometric Analysis of Risk Aversion and the Decision to Self-Insure," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(1), pages 169-186, February.
    2. Alma Cohen & Liran Einav, 2007. "Estimating Risk Preferences from Deductible Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 745-788, June.
    3. Camerer, Colin F & Ho, Teck-Hua, 1994. "Violations of the Betweenness Axiom and Nonlinearity in Probability," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 167-196, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies


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