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The Economics of Insurance Intermediaries

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  • J. David Cummins
  • Neil A. Doherty

Abstract

This article analyzes the economic functions of independent insurance intermediaries (brokers and independent agents), focusing on the commercial property-casualty insurance market. The article investigates the functions performed by intermediaries, the competitiveness of the market, the compensation arrangements for intermediaries, and the process by which policies are placed with insurers. Insurance intermediaries are essentially market makers who match the insurance needs of policyholders with insurers who have the capability of meeting those needs. Intermediary compensation comprises premium-based commissions, expressed as a percentage of the premium paid, and contingent commissions based on the profitability, persistency, and/or volume of the business placed with the insurer. Empirical evidence is provided that premium-based and contingent commissions are passed on to policyholders in the premium. However, contingent commissions can enhance competitive bidding by aligning the insurer's and the intermediary's interests. This alignment of interests gives insurers more confidence in the selection of risks and thus helps to break the "winner's curse" and encourages insurers to bid more aggressively. Independent intermediaries also help markets operate more efficiently by reducing the information asymmetries between insurers and buyers that can cause adverse selection. Copyright The Journal of Risk and Insurance, 2006.

Suggested Citation

  • J. David Cummins & Neil A. Doherty, 2006. "The Economics of Insurance Intermediaries," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 73(3), pages 359-396.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jrinsu:v:73:y:2006:i:3:p:359-396
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    File URL: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1539-6975.2006.00180.x
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    Cited by:

    1. Panle Jia Barwick & Parag A. Pathak & Maisy Wong, 2015. "Conflicts of Interest and the Realtor Commission Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 21489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Lu-Ming Tseng & Yue-Min Kang, 2014. "The influences of sales compensations, management stringency and ethical evaluations on product recommendations made by insurance brokers," Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 22(1), pages 26-42, February.
    3. Martina Eckardt & Solvig Räthke-Döppner, 2010. "The Quality of Insurance Intermediary Services-Empirical Evidence for Germany," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 77(3), pages 667-701.
    4. Mark Browne & Christian Knoller & Andreas Richter, 2015. "Behavioral bias and the demand for bicycle and flood insurance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 50(2), pages 141-160, April.
    5. Neil A. Doherty & Christian Laux & Alexander Muermann, 2015. "Insuring Nonverifiable Losses," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 19(1), pages 283-316.
    6. Stephen G. Fier & Andre P. Liebenberg, 2014. "The Market for Directors’ and Officers’ Insurance," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 17(2), pages 215-239, September.
    7. Dorothée Rouzet & Hildegunn Kyvik Nordås & Frederic Gonzales & Massimo Geloso Grosso & Iza Lejárraga & Sébastien Miroudot & Asako Ueno, 2014. "Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI): Financial Services," OECD Trade Policy Papers 175, OECD Publishing.
    8. Focht, Uwe & Richter, Andreas & Schiller, Jörg, 2009. "Intermediation and matching in insurance markets," FZID Discussion Papers 04-2009, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
    9. Jiang Cheng & Elyas Elyasiani & Tzu-Ting Lin, 2010. "Market Reaction to Regulatory Action in the Insurance Industry: The Case of Contingent Commission," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 77(2), pages 347-368.
    10. Nat Pope & Yu-Luen Ma, 2008. "The Market Structure-Performance Relationship in the International Insurance Sector," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 75(4), pages 947-966.
    11. Yu-Luen Ma & Nat Pope & Xiaoying Xie, 2014. "Contingent Commissions, Insurance Intermediaries, and Insurer Performance," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 17(1), pages 61-81, March.
    12. Inderst, Roman & Ottaviani, Marco, 2012. "How (not) to pay for advice: A framework for consumer financial protection," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 393-411.
    13. Alma Cohen & Peter Siegelman, 2010. "Testing for Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 77(1), pages 39-84.
    14. repec:pal:gpprii:v:42:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1057_s41288-017-0045-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Uwe Focht & Andreas Richter & Jörg Schiller, 2013. "Intermediation and (Mis-)Matching in Insurance Markets—Who Should Pay the Insurance Broker?," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 80(2), pages 329-350, June.
    16. J. David Cummins & Philippe Trainar, 2009. "Securitization, Insurance, and Reinsurance," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 76(3), pages 463-492.
    17. Parente, Ronaldo & Choi, Byeongyong Paul & Slangen, Arjen H.L. & Ketkar, Sonia, 2010. "Distribution system choice in a service industry: An analysis of international insurance firms operating in the United States," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 275-287, September.
    18. Inderst, Roman, 2015. "Regulating commissions in markets with advice," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 137-141.
    19. Dominique Demougin & Oliver Fabel & Christian Thomann, 2009. "Implicit vs. Explicit Incentives: Theory and a Case Study," CESifo Working Paper Series 2645, CESifo Group Munich.
    20. Claire Mouminoux & Jean-Louis Rullière & Stéphane Loisel, 2018. "Obfuscation and Honesty Experimental Evidence on Insurance Demand with Multiple Distribution Channels," Working Papers hal-01819522, HAL.
    21. Dionne, Georges & Harrington, Scott, 2017. "Insurance and Insurance Markets," Working Papers 17-2, HEC Montreal, Canada Research Chair in Risk Management.
    22. Richter, Andreas & Schiller, Jörg, 2008. "Entlohnung und Regulierung unabhängiger Versicherungsvermittler," Discussion Papers in Business Administration 7524, University of Munich, Munich School of Management.
    23. repec:bla:jrinsu:v:83:y:2016:i:4:p:849-876 is not listed on IDEAS

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