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Intermediation, compensation and tacit collusion in insurance markets

Author

Listed:
  • Focht, Uwe
  • Richter, Andreas
  • Schiller, Jörg

Abstract

Recent events involving major insurance companies and insurance brokerage firms highlight substantial incentive problems in commercial and reinsurance markets where intermediation takes place. We show that in markets with informed as well as uninformed consumers and heterogeneous risk profiles intermediation has the potential to improve social welfare. However, since intermediation reduces insurers’ market power, incentives for tacit collusion are higher compared to markets without intermediation. A controversial matter in the discussion concerning insurance intermediation is the issue of compensation customs. Our analysis provides explanations for the counterintuitive observation that brokers are usually compensated by insurance companies. The rationale for the latter is the fact that a fee paid by uninformed consumers limits the insurers’ ability to extract rents from informed consumers.

Suggested Citation

  • Focht, Uwe & Richter, Andreas & Schiller, Jörg, 2006. "Intermediation, compensation and tacit collusion in insurance markets," Working Papers on Risk and Insurance 17, University of Hamburg, Institute for Risk and Insurance.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:hzvwps:17
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Yavas, Abdullah, 1994. "Middlemen in Bilateral Search Markets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 406-429, July.
    5. d'Aspremont, C & Gabszewicz, Jean Jaskold & Thisse, J-F, 1979. "On Hotelling's "Stability in Competition"," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1145-1150, September.
    6. Schultz, Christian, 2004. "Market transparency and product differentiation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 173-178, May.
    7. Darby, Michael R & Karni, Edi, 1973. "Free Competition and the Optimal Amount of Fraud," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 67-88, April.
    8. Baye, Michael R & Cosimano, Thomas F, 1990. "Choosing Sides in Matching Games: Nash Equilibria and Comparative Statics," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 57(227), pages 283-293, August.
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