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Daniel Schwarcz
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Many thanks to Credit Slips for providing me with the opportunity to discuss some of the key consumer protection issues in insurance regulation. As I hope I have shown over my short stint here, there is much that needs to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2011 at Credit Slips
Steevo: You are right that ordinary commissions always create a conflict of interest. But contingent commissions create special, particularly difficult, conflict of interest. This is because they create much stronger steering incentives for agents, because the optimal response to them is often for an agent to consolidate all of his or her business with a single carrier. Also, they are much harder to effectively disclose than ordinary commissions, because they don't reflect a fixed number. In any event, though, my view is that insurance agents should be prohibited from referring to themselves as "independent" unless they receive precisely the same, fixed commissions -- with no contingent compensation -- from different carriers offering the same types of coverage.
Prompted by several comments to one of my earlier posts, I've been thinking about situations where a homeowner files an insurance claim for property damage to her home while she is in default on her mortgage. The general practice, as... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2011 at Credit Slips
I’ve argued in my posts so far that transparency in property/casualty insurance markets is woefully inadequate. Transparency, however, is not always a particularly good solution to a regulatory problem. The most visible controversy in the property/casualty insurance industry in the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2011 at Credit Slips
Insurance nerds like to point out that insurance coverage is a pre-requisite to a wide range of activities, from starting a business to practicing medicine to driving a car. In this sense, insurers often serve as gatekeepers to fundamental social... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2011 at Credit Slips
Mike: My general perspective on "From Good Hands to Boxing Gloves" is that it has some important information but is also told from a very particular point of view. It would be nice if there were objective information in the marketplace so that people could judge for themselves how well different companies pay claims. Leslie: Thanks for the suggestion. In general, the typical homeowners policy provides that "If a mortgagee is named in this policy, any loss payable under Coverage A or B will be paid to the mortgagee and you, as interests appear." My general understanding is that courts interpret this to mean that if the mortgagor/policyholder is in default, then the mortgagee can hold on to the insurance proceeds as security for repayment in addition to the damaged property. If there is surplus once the debt is satisfied, then the mortgagee is supposed to pay the excess to the mortgagor. I have no doubt that you are correct that there is some risk that mortgagees will not do this, though I do not know whether or not this is a common problem.
Not surprisingly, one of the core consumer protection issues in insurance is ensuring that carriers pay claims fairly and expeditiously. Unlike many contracts, insurance policies are sequential and contingent: whereas the policyholder performs routinely by paying premiums, the insurer performs... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2011 at Credit Slips
The core product that insurance consumers buy is a standard form contract. Unlike virtually any other market, though, it is virtually impossible for purchasers of personal lines coverage (i.e. homeowners, renters, and auto insurance) to scrutinize this product before they... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2011 at Credit Slips
Many thanks to Credit Slips for inviting me to guest blog over the next week or so. My hope during this time is to explore what I view as an important puzzle in consumer protection regulation: why it is that... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2011 at Credit Slips
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Jul 1, 2011