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Underwriting in Property-Casualty Insurance Markets: Regulation, Risk and Volatility


  • Ronnie J. Phillips
  • David Nickerson


We offer a novel explanation of underwriting volatility in propertyliability insurance markets in terms of private uncertainty over public regulatory policy. Underwriting involving random losses to policyholders is one source of risk to the equity value of insurance firms. Solvency regulations, however, pose a second source of risk to equity value when the implementation of such regulations randomly affects the return to underwriting but exhibits imperfect correlation with market conditions over time. Using a differential game in a standard no-arbitrage environment to model interaction between these two sources of risk, we derive the valuation equation for property-liability underwriting inclusive of the respective bestreply underwriting strategy of a representative insurance firm and the implementation strategy of a representative regulator. Owing to the conflicting effects of these strategies on firm equity, regulations adopted to reduce the solvency risk of insurers can, paradoxically, increase underwriting volatility in an otherwise efficient insurance market. Under certain parametric conditions, we also show that, even in the presence of complete financial markets, a subgame perfect Nash equilibrium of this game can exhibit a limit cycle in the value of underwriting which mirrors empirical evidence on the presence of cycles in property-liability insurance markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Ronnie J. Phillips & David Nickerson, 2011. "Underwriting in Property-Casualty Insurance Markets: Regulation, Risk and Volatility," NFI Working Papers 2011-WP-19, Indiana State University, Scott College of Business, Networks Financial Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:nfi:nfiwps:2011-wp-19

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. J. David Cummins & Mary A. Weiss, 2009. "Convergence of Insurance and Financial Markets: Hybrid and Securitized Risk-Transfer Solutions," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 76(3), pages 493-545.
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    More about this item


    Property Casualty Insurance; Cycles; Regulatory Risk;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation


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