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The Feasibility of Picture-Based Crop Insurance (PBI): Smartphone Pictures for Affordable Crop Insurance


  • Ceballos, F.
  • Kramer, B.
  • Robles, M.


This paper describes and tests the feasibility of Picture-Based Crop Insurance (PBI), a new way to deliver affordable and easy-to-understand insurance. Under PBI, loss assessments are based on damage visible from a time-series of pictures taken by the farmer using regular smartphones. PBI aims at boosting uptake, trust, and understanding of insurance by reducing basis risk as well as costs of and delays in loss assessment, and by engaging farmers to participate directly, with one s own pictures being more tangible than other indices. Results from a pilot implementation in the rice-wheat belt of India speak to PBI being a feasible and valuable alternative to existing insurance products. Damage is visible from smartphone pictures, farmers can take pictures of sufficient quality for loss assessment, and PBI helps reduce severe downside basis risk at minimal cost. Acknowledgement : We gratefully acknowledge Braulio Britos and Matt Krupoff for excellent research assistance; and Azad Mishra, Siddhesh Karekar, Dr. Mann S. Toor, Koen Hufkens, Michael Mann, and Eli Melaas. We received valuable suggestions from participants at G ttingen University, PARM K-Sharing and Learning Workshop; IPA s 3rd Annual Researcher Gathering on Financial Inclusion and Social Protection; CEAR Academic Pre-Conference in Microinsurance; and the Regional Dialogue on The Role of Agricultural Research in the Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of Agricultural Insurance. Funding support was provided by the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) and the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie).

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  • Ceballos, F. & Kramer, B. & Robles, M., 2018. "The Feasibility of Picture-Based Crop Insurance (PBI): Smartphone Pictures for Affordable Crop Insurance," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277141, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae18:277141
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.277141

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    1. Dean Karlan & Robert Osei & Isaac Osei-Akoto & Christopher Udry, 2014. "Agricultural Decisions after Relaxing Credit and Risk Constraints," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(2), pages 597-652.
    2. Shawn Cole & Xavier Gine & Jeremy Tobacman & Petia Topalova & Robert Townsend & James Vickery, 2013. "Barriers to Household Risk Management: Evidence from India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 104-135, January.
    3. Sommarat Chantarat & Andrew G. Mude & Christopher B. Barrett & Michael R. Carter, 2013. "Designing Index-Based Livestock Insurance for Managing Asset Risk in Northern Kenya," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 80(1), pages 205-237, March.
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    5. de Janvry, A. & Dequiedt, V. & Sadoulet, E., 2014. "The demand for insurance against common shocks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 227-238.
    6. Hongbin Cai & Yuyu Chen & Hanming Fang & Li-An Zhou, 2009. "Microinsurance, Trust and Economic Development: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 15396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Ruth Vargas Hill & Miguel Robles & Francisco Ceballos, 2016. "Demand for a Simple Weather Insurance Product in India: Theory and Evidence," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1250-1270.
    8. Berhane, Guush & Dercon, Stefan & Hill, Ruth & Taffesse, Alemayehu, 2015. "Formal and informal insurance: experimental evidence from Ethiopia," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211331, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kramer, B. & Ceballos, F., 2018. "Enhancing adaptive capacity through climate-smart insurance: Theory and evidence from India," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 275926, International Association of Agricultural Economists.

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