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Imperfect information is the cause of the moral hazard problem. If an insurance company had perfect information on risk, it could simply raise its premiums every time an insured party engages in riskier behavior. However, an insurance company cannot monitor all the risks that people take all the time and so, even with various checks and cost-sharing, moral hazard will remain a problem.

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The adverse selection problem

Adverse selection refers to the problem in which the buyers of insurance have more information about whether they are high-risk or low-risk than the insurance company does. This creates an asymmetric information problem for the insurance company because buyers who are high-risk tend to want to buy more insurance, without letting the insurance company know about their higher risk. For example, someone purchasing health insurance or life insurance probably knows more about their family’s health history than an insurer can reasonably find out even with a costly investigation; someone purchasing car insurance may know that they are a high-risk driver who has not yet had a major accident—but it is hard for the insurance company to collect information about how people actually drive.

To understand how adverse selection can strangle an insurance market, recall the situation of 100 drivers who are buying automobile insurance, where 60 drivers had very low damages 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. That would equal $186,000 in total payouts by the insurance company. Imagine that, while the insurance company knows the overall size of the losses, it cannot identify the high-risk, medium-risk, and low-risk drivers. However, the drivers themselves know their risk groups. Since there is asymmetric information between the insurance company and the drivers, the insurance company would likely set the price of insurance at $1,860 per year, to cover the average loss (not including the cost of overhead and profit). The result is that those with low risks of only $100 will likely decide not to buy insurance; after all, it makes no sense for them to pay $1,860 per year when they are likely only to experience losses of $100. Those with medium risks of a $1,000 accident will not buy insurance either. So the insurance company ends up only selling insurance for $1,860 to high-risk drivers who will average $15,000 in claims apiece. So the insurance company ends up losing a lot of money. If the insurance company tries to raise its premiums to cover the losses of those with high risks, then those with low or medium risks will be even more discouraged from buying insurance.

Rather than face such a situation of adverse selection, the insurance company may decide not to sell insurance in this market    at all. If an insurance market is to exist, then one of two things must happen. First, the insurance company might find some way of separating insurance buyers into risk groups with some degree of accuracy and charging them accordingly, which in practice often means that the insurance company tries not to sell insurance to those who may pose high risks. Or second, those with low risks must be required to buy insurance, even if they have to pay more than the actuarially fair amount for their risk group. The notion that people can be required to purchase insurance raises the issue of government laws and regulations that influence the insurance industry.

Questions & Answers

what the word federal mean
Kabba Reply
Meaning of "movement along curve?
Lizabeth Reply
There is movement along curve whenever the 'price' is affected
Isha
its mean price is positively response as demand change and price is negatively reaponse as supply changes
Mudasir
its mean when quantity demanded of commodity changes due to a change in its price ,keeping other factors constant, it is know as change in quantity demanded.
Gyamfua
pleas wat the formula when calculating for equilibrium point
Irene
when there is increase in the price
sautil
when there is increase in demand, demand will decrease.
Shadrick
A movement along curve is a movement on the curve mainly caused by a change occured in both quantity demand and quantity supplied.
Aarohi
what is demand
Dennis Reply
unwilling to buy good quality at a particular price and a particular time
Musa
Demand is the willingness and ability to buy goods and services at different prices at a given time.
Aarohi
is production function different from psychological law of consumption?
Kshirodra Reply
why supply is not the same quantity supplied
emmanuel Reply
What is Elasticity?
Kamara
I don't even understand
Awuah
what is damand
Cletus
Elasticity is an economic concept used to measure the change in the aggregate quantity demand for a goods or service in relation to price movements of that goods and service.
Gyamfua
Demand is an economic principal referring of a consumers desire to purchase goods and service and willingness to pay a price for a specific goods or service.
Gyamfua
supply is not the same as quantity supplied, because when economic refer to supply, they mean the relationship between a range of price an the quantity supplied those price -are relationship that can be illustrated with a supply curve or supply schedule
Gyamfua
Is a science which study human behavior as a relationship between ends and scares means which have alternative uses
BOOMBA Reply
I dont think so
Mahmood
It is Economic growth and stability
Mahmood
How Economic recovery growth Planning
Mahmood Reply
Expatiate your question
Awuah
Yh
Berry
Are bonds the same as liabilities?
Anderson Reply
Demend create it own supply how?
Mahmood
what is way ofrece thinking
Mahmood
what is the Economic way thinkig?
Mahmood
what is gasoline
Deepak Reply
how to know which products demand
Deepak
in other words economic can be define as what?
Ojarigho Reply
what is the difference between economics activities and economics system
Joshua Reply
what is the difference between price elasticity of demand and income elasticity of demand
Ellen Reply
what is demand
Alpha Reply
What is demand
Musa
is a measure of responsiveness at which a consumer is willing and able to offer a particular product at a given period of time
Manu
what is consumer
chill Reply
what is economics?
Odei Reply

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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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