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Uberrimae Fidei and Adverse Selection: the equitable legal judgment of Insurance Contracts

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  • Strauss, Jason David

Abstract

This paper examines uberrimae fidei (utmost good faith) with adverse selection in an insurance market. If consumers know their risk type (they know their expected loss), and if they understand the concept of uberrimae fidei, adverse selection is completely eliminated. However, if uberrimae fidei is strictly enforced by the courts, insurers have no incentive to do any underwriting whatsoever. Therefore, whether consumers know their risk type or not, and whether they understand uberrimae fidei, is of paramount importance. If consumers don’t know their risk type or don’t understand uberrimae fidei, then the (equitable) non-strict enforcement (judicial ruling) of contracts of insurance can be efficiency enhancing as it can create an ex-ante incentive for insurers to underwrite. With an ex-ante positive probability that a court may rule equitably in favor of the insured, the insurer engages in underwriting as part of its profit maximization objective, helping insureds to discover their risk type and/or educating potential insureds on the requirements of a contract of uberrimae fidei. This paper therefore contributes a new theory of underwriting.

Suggested Citation

  • Strauss, Jason David, 2008. "Uberrimae Fidei and Adverse Selection: the equitable legal judgment of Insurance Contracts," MPRA Paper 10874, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:10874
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/10874/1/MPRA_paper_10874.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Alberto Zazzaro, 2005. "Should Courts Enforce Credit Contracts Strictly?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 166-184, January.
    2. A. Dixit & P. Picard, 2002. "On the Role of Good Faith in Insurance Contracting," Princeton Economic Theory Working Papers 26c6897fd1cd46f8f39ffb6ca, David K. Levine.
    3. Levine, Ross, 1998. "The Legal Environment, Banks, and Long-Run Economic Growth," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 30(3), pages 596-613, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Insurance; Uberrimae Fidei; Utmost Good Faith; Adverse Selection; Contract Theory; Equity; Equitable Law; Institutions; Insurance Cycle;

    JEL classification:

    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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