The Influence of Compensation on Product Recommendations Made by Insurance Agents
Posted: 27 Feb 2006
Lawsuits alleging illegal and unethical insurance sales practices have received widespread publicity in recent years. Although many observers have argued that one source of ethical conflicts for insurance agents is the industry's reliance on straight commission compensation, there remains a paucity of empirical data to support the claim. Therefore, we tested whether different forms of compensation influence insurance agent recommendations of products. We obtained survey responses from 336 insurance agents. Respondents were presented with a composite sketch of a hypothetical client. Following this description, they were asked to identify which one of eight specified life insurance products they would recommend to the client. A between-groups design was employed to manipulate differences in compensation associated with the eight products. Results indicated that neither amount of coverage nor type of coverage (term life versus cash value) recommended was associated with compensation. However, an unanticipated finding was that amount of coverage recommended was significantly higher when the insured was male than when the insured was female.
Keywords: agent-client relations, commission, compensation, conflict of interests, incentives, insurance, sales
JEL Classification: D82, G22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation