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The Impact of Institutional Ownership on the Reinsurance Decision

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Risk management has a central role in corporate America. Insurance companies frequently manage risk by purchasing reinsurance because it reduces the downside risk (i.e., bankruptcy risk) of an insurer. Because reinsurance is costly, Mayers and Smith (1990, Journal of Business, 63: 19-40) argue that reinsurance purchases should be negatively associated with the diversification of the owners' portfolios. Further, institutional owners play a significant role in equity markets yet we know little about their effect on firm behavior. The purpose of this study is to examine empirically the influence of institutional ownership on reinsurance for a sample of widely held property-liability insurers. We hypothesize that insurers with higher levels of institutional ownership purchase less reinsurance. Using a sample of 45 publicly traded property-liability insurers from 1995 to 1997, we demonstrate that the utilization of reinsurance decreases as the level of institutional ownership increases. This suggests that the diversification of the owners' portfolios is a determinant of the insurers' reinsurance decisions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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