Opaqueness in the Insurance Industry: Why Are Some Insurers Harder to Evaluate than Others?

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Many articles have investigated various tools used to evaluate the financial strength of insurers. This is the first study to investigate whether certain insurers are simply inherently more difficult to evaluate than others, regardless of the tool used. The article identifies certain specific insurer characteristics that are associated with greater difficulty in financial strength evaluation, as proxied for by the level of rating disagreement by Moody's and Standard and Poor's. Specifically, the empirical results indicate that insurers that exhibit the following characteristics are more difficult to assess in terms of financial strength: smaller insurers, stock insurers, insurers with a history of reserving errors, insurers that use less reinsurance, insurers with greater levels of investment in stocks and low-grade bonds, and insurers that are more geographically diversified.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6296.2006.00091.x

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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