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Mental accounting, access motives, and overinsurance


  • Fels, Markus


People exercising mental accounting have an additional motive for buying insurance. They perceive a risk of having insufficient funds available to self-insure. In this way insurance protects the consumption value of the insured asset beyond the expenditure to acquire/replace it. This complements previous approaches based on probability weighting and loss aversion to explain the high profitability of warranties and an aversion toward deductibles. It helps to account for why the value of a warranty is found to be positively related to the value of the product and why there is seemingly contradictory empirical evidence on how household income affects demand for warranties. The adapted model rationalizes a strong aversion to deductibles, and explains the observed sensitivity of this aversion to the insurance context. Finally, it predicts a strong impact of how an insurer pays out benefits on the value and cost of insurance. This can explain both the evidence on strong deductible aversion for flood insurance and the lack of such evidence for long-term care insurance.

Suggested Citation

  • Fels, Markus, 2015. "Mental accounting, access motives, and overinsurance," Working Paper Series in Economics 69, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Business Engineering.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:kitwps:69

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kimball, Miles S, 1990. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(1), pages 53-73, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fels, Markus Peter, 2017. "Incentivizing efficient utilization without reducing access: The case against cost-sharing in insurance," Working Paper Series in Economics 105, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Business Engineering.
    2. Fels, Markus, 2016. "When the affordable has no value, and the valuable is unaffordable: The U.S. market for long-term care insurance and the role of Medicaid," Working Paper Series in Economics 84, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Business Engineering.

    More about this item


    Extended Warranty; Deductibles; Insurance Demand; Mental Accounting; Access Motive;

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies

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