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The impact of intermediary remuneration in differentiated insurance markets


  • Hofmann, Annette
  • Nell, Martin


This article deals with the impact of intermediaries on insurance market transparency and performance. In a market exhibiting product differentiation and coexistence of perfectly and imperfectly informed consumers, competition among insurers leads to non-existence of a pure-strategy market equilibrium. Consumers may become informed about product suitability by consulting an intermediary. We explicitly model two intermediary remuneration systems: commissions and fees. We find that social welfare under fees is first-best efficient but fees lead to lower expected profits of insurers and non-existence of a pure-strategy market equilibrium. Commissions, in contrast, cause 'overinformation' of consumers relative to minimal social cost, but yield a full-information equilibrium in pure strategies associated with higher expected profits of insurers. This might explain why intermediaries are generally compensated by insurers.

Suggested Citation

  • Hofmann, Annette & Nell, Martin, 2008. "The impact of intermediary remuneration in differentiated insurance markets," Working Papers on Risk and Insurance 22, University of Hamburg, Institute for Risk and Insurance.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:hzvwps:22

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hugh Gravelle, 1993. "Product Price and Advice Quality: Implications of the Commission System in Life Assurance," The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics (The Geneva Association), vol. 18(1), pages 31-53, June.
    2. Mattias K. Polborn, 1998. "A Model of an Oligopoly in an Insurance Market," The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics (The Geneva Association), vol. 23(1), pages 41-48, June.
    3. Osborne, Martin J & Pitchik, Carolyn, 1987. "Equilibrium in Hotelling's Model of Spatial Competition," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 911-922, July.
    4. Schultz, Christian, 2004. "Market transparency and product differentiation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 173-178, May.
    5. H S E Gravelle, 1991. "The Welfare Economics of Controls on Brokers' Commissions*," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 16(1), pages 3-19, January.
    6. Steven C. Salop, 1979. "Monopolistic Competition with Outside Goods," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 141-156, Spring.
    7. Posey, Lisa L. & Tennyson, Sharon, 1998. "The coexistence of distribution systems under price search: Theory and some evidence from insurance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 95-115, March.
    8. 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.
    9. Polo, Michele, 1991. "Hotelling Duopoly with Uninformed Consumers," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(6), pages 701-715, December.
    10. Sass, Tim R & Gisser, Micha, 1989. "Agency Cost, Firm Size, and Exclusive Dealing," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(2), pages 381-400, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Focht, Uwe & Richter, Andreas & Schiller, Jörg, 2009. "Intermediation and matching in insurance markets," FZID Discussion Papers 04-2009, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
    2. Pohl, Philipp, 2008. "Einfluss der Balanced-Scorecard-Werteparameter auf den Unternehmenswert in einem Regressionsmodell am Beispiel der Versicherungsbranche," Working Papers on Risk and Insurance 23, University of Hamburg, Institute for Risk and Insurance.

    More about this item


    product differentiation; intermediation; insurance oligopoly;

    JEL classification:

    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets


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