Information Risk and the Cost of Equity Capital Revisited: Evidence from the U.S. Property-Casualty Insurance Industry
56 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2017 Last revised: 2 May 2018
Date Written: September 29, 2017
This paper revisits the relationship between information risk and the cost of equity capital in the U.S. property-casualty (P/C) insurance industry. Eckles, Halek and Zhang (2014) find that information risk has no effect on the cost of equity using a sample of U.S. P/C insurers. Following their approach, we decompose information risk into innate and discretionary components. We find that innate information risk affects the cost of equity capital through two opposing channels. On the one hand, innate information risk directly increases an insurer’s cost of equity capital by increasing investors’ assessment of the riskiness of the insurer’s future cash flows. On the other hand, innate information risk indirectly decreases the insurer’s cost of equity capital by changing its production so that the assessed riskiness of the firm’s future cash flows are reduced. This (negative) indirect effect depends on factors that influence the insurer’s underwriting decisions. Our empirical results provide supporting evidence for a significant, positive direct effect of innate information risk, while the magnitude of the (negative) indirect effect increases with the insurer’s proportion of long-tail business and decreases with its affiliated reinsurance usage. As to the impact of discretionary information risk, our results are mixed. We also find that, on average, the overall effect of information risk on the cost of equity capital for property-casualty insurers is significant and negative.
Keywords: Cost of Equity Capital, Information Risk, Accruals Quality
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation