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

Authors

  • Steven W. Pottier,

    1. Steven W. Pottier is associate professor, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia. David W. Sommer is associate professor, Terry College of Business, 206 Brooks Hall, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-6255; phone: 706-542-5160; fax: 706-542-4295; e-mail: dsommer@terry.uga.edu.
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  • David W. Sommer

    1. Steven W. Pottier is associate professor, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia. David W. Sommer is associate professor, Terry College of Business, 206 Brooks Hall, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-6255; phone: 706-542-5160; fax: 706-542-4295; e-mail: dsommer@terry.uga.edu.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • This article was subject to double-blind peer review.

Abstract

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.

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