On the Choice of Insurance Distribution Systems
We examine insurers' choice between independent and exclusive agents. We assume that alternative distribution systems are efficient mechanisms for controlling contracting problems among policyholders, insurers, and agents. Because the use of independent agents helps control potential expropriative behavior by the insurer, the independent agency system should be more valuable for ownership structures where such problems are more severe. Thus, ownership structures and distribution systems are strategic compliments. We test this theory by analyzing the association between distribution-system choice and the firm's ownership structure, lines of insurance, advertising policy, size, geographic concentration, and cost structure among property-casualty insurers.
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