Do you Trust your Insurer? Ambiguity about Contract Nonperformance and Optimal Insurance Demand

32 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2018 Last revised: 25 Nov 2018

See all articles by Richard Peter

Richard Peter

University of Iowa

Jie Ying

Southern Illinois University - Department of Economics & Finance

Date Written: October 29, 2018

Abstract

We study optimal insurance demand for a risk- and ambiguity-averse consumer under ambiguity about contract nonperformance. Ambiguity aversion lowers optimal insurance demand and the consumer's degree of ambiguity aversion is negatively associated with the optimal level of coverage. A more pessimistic belief and greater ambiguity may increase or decrease the optimal demand for insurance, and we determine sufficient conditions for a negative effect. We also discuss wealth effects and evaluate the robustness of our results by considering several alternative models of ambiguity aversion. Our findings show how ambiguity about contract nonperformance can undermine the functioning of insurance markets, making it a concern for regulators. Caution is required though because demand reactions are only imperfectly informative about the welfare effects of ambiguity about contract nonperformance.

Keywords: ambiguity, ambiguity aversion, insurance demand, contract nonperformance, comparative statics

JEL Classification: D11, D80, D81, G22

Suggested Citation

Peter, Richard and Ying, Jie, Do you Trust your Insurer? Ambiguity about Contract Nonperformance and Optimal Insurance Demand (October 29, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3113880 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3113880

Richard Peter (Contact Author)

University of Iowa ( email )

341 Schaeffer Hall
Iowa City, IA 52242-1097
United States

Jie Ying

Southern Illinois University - Department of Economics & Finance ( email )

Edwardsville, IL 62026
United States

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