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Financial literacy and precautionary insurance

Author

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  • Kubitza, Christian
  • Hofmann, Annette
  • Steinorth, Petra

Abstract

This paper studies insurance demand for individuals with limited financial literacy. We propose uncertainty about insurance payouts, resulting from contract complexity, as a novel channel that affects decision-making of financially illiterate individuals. Then, a trade-off between second-order (risk aversion) and third-order (prudence) risk preferences drives insurance demand. Sufficiently prudent individuals raise insurance demand upon an increase in contract complexity, while the effect is reversed for less prudent individuals. We characterize competitive market equilibria that feature complex contracts since firms face costs to reduce complexity. Based on the equilibrium analysis, we propose a monetary measure for the welfare cost of financial illiteracy and show that it is mainly driven by individuals' risk aversion. Finally, we discuss implications for regulation and consumer protection.

Suggested Citation

  • Kubitza, Christian & Hofmann, Annette & Steinorth, Petra, 2019. "Financial literacy and precautionary insurance," ICIR Working Paper Series 34/19, Goethe University Frankfurt, International Center for Insurance Regulation (ICIR).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:icirwp:3419
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    financial literacy; insurance demand; prudence; precautionary insurance;

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies

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