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Moral Hazard in Reinsurance Markets


  • Neil Doherty
  • Kent Smetters


This paper attempts to identify moral hazard in the traditional reinsurance market. We build a multi-period principle agent model of the reinsurance transaction from which we derive predictions on premium design, monitoring, loss control and insurer risk retention. We then use panel data on U.S. property liability reinsurance to test the model. The empirical results are consistent with the model's predictions. In particular, we find evidence for the use of loss sensitive premiums when the insurer and reinsurer are not affiliates (i.e., not part of the same financial group), but little or no use of monitoring. In contrast, we find evidence for the use of monitoring when the insurer and reinsurer are affiliates, where monitoring costs are lower, but little use of price controls.

Suggested Citation

  • Neil Doherty & Kent Smetters, 2002. "Moral Hazard in Reinsurance Markets," NBER Working Papers 9050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9050
    Note: AP PE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bond, Eric W. & Crocker, Keith J., 1997. "Hardball and the soft touch: The economics of optimal insurance contracts with costly state verification and endogenous monitoring costs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 239-264, January.
    2. Jewitt, Ian, 1988. "Justifying the First-Order Approach to Principal-Agent Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1177-1190, September.
    3. Greenwald, Bruce C & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1990. "Asymmetric Information and the New Theory of the Firm: Financial Constraints and Risk Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 160-165, May.
    4. Richard A. Lambert, 1983. "Long-Term Contracts and Moral Hazard," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 441-452, Autumn.
    5. Froot, Kenneth A. & O'Connell, Paul G.J., 2008. "On the pricing of intermediated risks: Theory and application to catastrophe reinsurance," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 69-85, January.
    6. Keith J. Crocker & John Morgan, 1998. "Is Honesty the Best Policy? Curtailing Insurance Fraud through Optimal Incentive Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 355-375, April.
    7. Allen, Franklin & Gale, Douglas, 1997. "Financial Markets, Intermediaries, and Intertemporal Smoothing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 523-546, June.
    8. Kenneth A. Froot, 1997. "The Limited Financing of Catastrophe Risk: An Overview," NBER Working Papers 6025, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Froot, Kenneth A & Scharfstein, David S & Stein, Jeremy C, 1993. " Risk Management: Coordinating Corporate Investment and Financing Policies," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(5), pages 1629-1658, December.
    10. Randall Geehan, 1977. "Returns to Scale in the Life Insurance Industry," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 8(2), pages 497-514, Autumn.
    11. Jacques Crémer, 1995. "Arm's Length Relationships," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(2), pages 275-295.
    12. Bengt Holmstrom, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 74-91, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Lewis, 2010. "Reinsurers as financial intermediaries in the market for catastrophic risk," DNB Occasional Studies 802, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    2. Benjamin Lorent, 2006. "Raisons fondamentales d'une régulation prudentielle du secteur des assurances," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 49(3), pages 203-244.
    3. Franke, Günter & Krahnen, Jan Pieter, 2008. "The future of securitization," CFS Working Paper Series 2008/31, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    4. Bender, Klaus & Richter, Andreas, 2002. "Optimales Vertragsdesign bei moralischem Risiko in der Rückversicherung," Working Papers on Risk and Insurance 9, University of Hamburg, Institute for Risk and Insurance.
    5. Starbird, S. Andrew & Amanor-Boadu, Vincent & Roberts, Tanya, 2008. "Traceability, Moral Hazard, and Food Safety," 2008 International Congress, August 26-29, 2008, Ghent, Belgium 43840, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    6. Guillaume Plantin, 2006. "Does Reinsurance Need Reinsurers?," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 73(1), pages 153-168.
    7. Sabine Lemoyne de Forges & Ruben Bibas & Stéphane Hallegatte, 2001. "A dynamic model of extreme risk coverage : Resilience and e fficiency in the global reinsurance market," CIRED Working Papers halshs-00800460, HAL.
    8. Rachel J. Huang & Larry Y. Tzeng, 2007. "Optimal Tax Deductions for Net Losses Under Private Insurance With an Upper Limit," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 74(4), pages 883-893.
    9. Gibson, Rajna & Habib, Michel A. & Ziegler, Alexandre, 2014. "Reinsurance or securitization: The case of natural catastrophe risk," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 79-100.
    10. repec:eee:ejores:v:266:y:2018:i:3:p:1175-1188 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Yuguang Fan & Philip S. Griffin & Ross Maller & Alexander Szimayer & Tiandong Wang, 2017. "The Effects of Largest Claim and Excess of Loss Reinsurance on a Company’s Ruin Time and Valuation," Risks, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(1), pages 1-27, January.

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    JEL classification:

    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • G0 - Financial Economics - - General


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