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On the preference for full-coverage policies: Why do people buy too much insurance?

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  • Shapira, Zur
  • Venezia, Itzhak

Abstract

One of the most intriguing questions in insurance is the preference of consumers for low or zero deductible insurance policies. This stands in sharp contrast to a theorem proved by Mossin [Mossin, J. (1968). Aspects of rational insurance purchasing. Journal of Political Economy, 76, 553-568], that under quite common assumptions when the price of insurance is higher than its actuarial value, then full coverage is not optimal. We show in a series of experiments that amateur subjects tend to underestimate the value of a policy with a deductible and that the degree of underestimation increases with the size of the deductible. We hypothesize that this tendency is caused by the anchoring heuristic. In particular, in pricing a policy with a deductible subjects first consider the price of a full-coverage policy. Then they anchor on the size of the deductible and subtract it from the price of the full-coverage policy. However, they do not adjust the price enough upward to take into account the fact that there is only a small chance that the deductible will be applied toward their payments. We also show that professionals in the field of insurance are less prone to such a bias. This implies that a policy with a deductible priced according to the true expected payments may seem "overpriced" to the insured and therefore may not be purchased. Since the values of full-coverage policies are not underestimated the insured may find them as relatively better "deals".

Suggested Citation

  • Shapira, Zur & Venezia, Itzhak, 2008. "On the preference for full-coverage policies: Why do people buy too much insurance?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 747-761, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:29:y:2008:i:5:p:747-761
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Coble, Keith H. & Barnett, Barry J. & Riley, John Michael, 2013. "Challenging Belief in the Law of Small Numbers," 2013 AAEA: Crop Insurance and the Farm Bill Symposium, October 8-9, Louisville, KY 156958, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    2. repec:oup:ajagec:v:99:y:2017:i:3:p:732-756. is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.
    4. Xiaodong Du & Hongli Feng & David A. Hennessy, 2017. "Rationality of Choices in Subsidized Crop Insurance Markets," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 99(3), pages 732-756.
    5. Li, Chu-Shiu & Lin, Chih Hao & Liu, Chwen-Chi & Woodside, Arch G., 2012. "Dynamic pricing in regulated automobile insurance markets with heterogeneous insurers: Strategies nice versus nasty for customers," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 65(7), pages 968-976.
    6. Jacqueline Volkman-Wise, 2015. "Representativeness and managing catastrophe risk," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 267-290, December.
    7. Nathan Kettlewell, 2016. "Policy Choice and Product Bundling in a Complicated Health Insurance Market: Do People get it Right?," Discussion Papers 2016-16, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.

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