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The major additional costs to insurance companies, other than the payment of claims, are the costs of running a business: the administrative costs of hiring workers, administering accounts, and processing insurance claims. For most insurance companies, the insurance premiums coming in and the claims payments going out are much larger than the amounts earned by investing money or the administrative costs.

Thus, while factors like investment income earned on reserves, administrative costs, and groups with different risks complicate the overall picture, a fundamental law of insurance must hold true: The average person’s payments into insurance over time must cover 1) the average person’s claims, 2) the costs of running the company, and 3) leave room for the firm’s profits. This law can be boiled down to the idea that average premiums and average insurance payouts must be approximately equal.

Risk groups and actuarial fairness

Not all of those who purchase insurance face the same risks. Some people may be more likely, because of genetics or personal habits, to fall sick with certain diseases. Some people may live in an area where car theft or home robbery is more likely than others. Some drivers are safer than others. A risk group    can be defined as a group that shares roughly the same risks of an adverse event occurring.

Insurance companies often classify people into risk groups, and charge lower premiums to those with lower risks. If people are not separated into risk groups, then those with low-risk must pay for those with high risks. In the simple example of how car insurance works, given earlier, 60 drivers had very low damage of $100 each, 30 drivers had medium-sized accidents that cost $1,000 each, and 10 of the drivers had large accidents that cost $15,000. If all 100 of these drivers pay the same $1,860, then those with low damages are in effect paying for those with high damages.

If it is possible to classify drivers according to risk group, then each group can be charged according to its expected losses. For example, the insurance company might charge the 60 drivers who seem safest of all $100 apiece, which is the average value of the damages they cause. Then the intermediate group could pay $1,000 apiece and the high-cost group $15,000 each. When the level of insurance premiums that someone pays is equal to the amount that an average person in that risk group would collect in insurance payments, the level of insurance is said to be “actuarially fair.”

Classifying people into risk groups can be controversial. For example, if someone had a major automobile accident last year, should that person be classified as a high-risk driver who is likely to have similar accidents in the future, or as a low-risk driver who was just extremely unlucky? The driver is likely to claim to be low-risk, and thus someone who should be in a risk group with those who pay low insurance premiums in the future. The insurance company is likely to believe that, on average, having a major accident is a signal of being a high-risk driver, and thus try to charge this driver higher insurance premiums. The next two sections discuss the two major problems of imperfect information in insurance markets—called moral hazard and adverse selection. Both problems arise from attempts to categorize those purchasing insurance into risk groups.

Questions & Answers

meaning of Money, worth and wealth, economic goods and service
Mariana Reply
money is just means of exchange denomination of wealth while wealth is the sum total of all assets held in either liquid or non liquid form, where as worth is the exchange value of an asset.
tesfie
hi
Hamdiya
why do we study economics
Hamdiya
We also studied economics in order to know about the human behaviour or phycology towards there needs
sarmad
we study Economics to adjust unlimited human needs with the limited natural resources of the earth in order to achieve susyainabl economic development.
tesfie
what is equilibrium
Daniel Reply
it is intersect point of economics line in graph, but everytime not graph
Ahmet
it is the intersection point of supply and demand curves
tesfie
GDP is domestic gross product. refer my site amanchabukswar.wordpress.com
Aman Reply
Hi everyone
AWOYEMI
hello lovely where am I?
Becky
Good morning
AWOYEMI
morning
Daniel
hi dear bro
tesfie
why does a firm continue operating at a breakeven point
Prince Reply
to retain its customers for later coming profits.
tesfie
this is because the firm's revenu is covering the variable cost so the firm should continuos business
Florencia
and zero profit is a normal profit which covers entrepreneur's profit along with recovering wages, interest and rent.
Farooq
what economic trend can we expect after lifting of 10 year long sanctions in an national economy?
tesfie Reply
difference between change in demand and change in quantity demanded
Maurice Reply
how
kumar
how to change
kumar
For a demand with repect to price. change in demand refers to the shifting of demand curve, where as change in quantity demanded means movement along the given demand curve.
Farooq
According to lional Robbins how did he explain economics
Raphael Reply
He defined economics as a science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scares which has alternative uses.
Emmanuel
What is economics
Nasiru Reply
why are some countries producing inside the ppf
Claire Reply
prove or disprove that balance of trade of trade deficit is a cause of an abnormal demand curve?
Chioma Reply
what's the fixed cost at output zero
Saidou Reply
fixed cost stay the same regardless of the level of output
Luka
example; electricity bill is fixed cost....but when the machinery plant is not active and perhaps so offices are locked up due to unforseen circumstances..... definitely the electric nose dive.... that is a reduction in fixed right? am just saying hope am making a point Luke?
klevic
what are the differences between change in demand and change in quantity demand
Sulaiman Reply
I think change in demand has to do with change from one product to another product....while change in quantity demand has to do with change in terms of units but same product....maybe due price change most especially, seasonal reasons too.
klevic
change in demand has to do with price of that commodity why change in quantity demand has to do with shift an has to do with other factor other than price
FIDELIS
what is consumers behaviour
Marfo Reply
i think it means the reaction expected of consumers in respect of changes in economic activities... most especially changes made by producers~wholesalers~retailers
klevic
importance of income
Emmanuel Reply
Tfor settlement of debt. For purchases. For payment of bills. For daily transactions. For social & recreational enjoyment. For business purposes etc
Oyetunde
thanks
Emmanuel
For investment purposes For security purposes For purpose of forecasting & strategizing.
Oyetunde
what is the real definition of economics
jegede Reply
Economics is the study of the use and allocation of (scarce) resources
demsurf
Jegede, what is the "non" real definition of economics then?
Ernest
Economics is a study of how human use limited resources to fulfil their unlimited want
Musa
the study of how a society use scarce factors of production efficiently so as meet aggregate social demand
Marc
what is oligopoly?
Sailo
Oligopoly can be defines as a market where by there is only tmo or more sellers of a commodity
Paamat
Sory not tmo but two
Paamat

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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