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Race discrimination in the adjudication of claims: Evidence from earthquake insurance

Xiao Lin, Mark J. Browne and Annette Hofmann

Journal of Risk & Insurance, 2022, vol. 89, issue 3, 553-580

Abstract: Catastrophic events affect many people simultaneously. We exploit earthquake claim characteristics to test for racial discrimination in the adjudication of insurance claims. Using data from the Oklahoma Department of Insurance, the US Geological Survey, and the US census, we study eight earthquakes between 2010 and 2016 that were linked to oil and gas drilling activities. We test whether claim resolutions differ among zip‐code areas with different racial compositions, all else equal. We find evidence that claims from areas with higher percentages of Black population were less likely to result in payment, and when those claims did get paid, payments were lower in those areas. We further investigate the mechanisms through which such discrimination may exist. We do not find evidence that the percentages of Black, Native, or Asian population in an area are associated with the filing of marginal claims. We do find that areas with higher percentages of Hispanic population file fewer marginal claims.

Date: 2022
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