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Information Cost, Broker Compensation, and Collusion in Insurance Markets

Annette Hofmann/Martin Nell

Schmalenbach Business Review (sbr), 2011, vol. 63, issue 3, 287-307

Abstract: We examine the impact of intermediation on insurance market transparency and performance. In a differentiated insurance market under imperfect information, consumers can gain information about product suitability by consulting an intermediary. We analyze current broker compensation methods: commissions and fees. Although insurers’ equilibrium profits are equivalent under both systems, social welfare is always higher under a fee-for-advice system than under a commission system. Both systems offer the opportunity to increase profits via collusion. Under a commission system, collusion enables insurers to separate consumers into groups purchasing different contracts. Insurers may then extract additional rents from some consumers. This advantage can explain why brokers tend to be compensated by insurers.

Keywords: Collusion; Insurance Market; Intermediation. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D43 G22 L13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:sbr:abstra:v:63:y:2011:i:3:p:287-307