Competition in the general insurance industry

Gulumser Murat, Roger S. Tonkin, D. Johannes Jüttner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Using a large sample of cross-sectional data for 1998 of companies operating in the general insurance industry we attempt to shed some light on the issue of competition in this industry. Companies offering products and services in the general insurance market are believed to trade under very competitive conditions. In order to test this widely-held claim we investigate whether firms’ pricing policies reflect competitive or monopolistic market features. Under competitive conditions companies are forced to pass on any increase in costs in prices and thus their revenues will rise pari passu should wages, underwriting costs or other expenses are increasing. By contrast, a firm operating under monopolistic competition responds to an increase in marginal and average costs by increasing price and reducing output, resulting in a less then complete pass-through in revenue; profit falls. Our study is the first, to our knowledge, to apply this research methodology to the general (casuality / liability) insurance industry. Firms in this industry generate revenue through underwriting of insurance risks and from investing their assets. As underwriting and capital markets are in general segmented (catastrophe bonds apart), our empirical approach is based on the insurance and portfolio behaviour of firms and not on an integrated view of both. Previous investigations of this kind have focussed on the banking industry. Contrary to widely held views we find that competition is less than perfect.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-481
Number of pages30
JournalZeitschrift für die gesamte Versicherungswissenschaft
Volume91
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Keywords

  • general insurance market
  • revenue-cost structure
  • monopolistic competition

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