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The Cost of Financial Frictions for Life Insurers
During the financial crisis, life insurers sold long-term policies at deep discounts relative to actuarial value. The average markup was as low as ?19 percent for annuities and ?57 percent for life insurance. This extraordinary pricing behavior was due to financial and product market frictions, interacting with statutory reserve regulation that allowed life insurers to record far less than a dollar of reserve per dollar of future insurance liability. We identify the shadow cost of capital through exogenous variation in required reserves across different types of policies. The shadow cost was ...
Health and Mortality Delta: Assessing the Welfare Cost of Household Insurance Choice
We develop a pair of risk measures, health and mortality delta, for the universe of life and health insurance products. A life-cycle model of insurance choice simplifies to replicating the optimal health and mortality delta through a portfolio of insurance products. We estimate the model to explain the observed variation in health and mortality delta implied by the ownership of life insurance, annuities including private pensions, and long-term care insurance in the Health and Retirement Study. For the median household aged 51 to 57, the lifetime welfare cost of market incompleteness and ...
What's Wrong with Annuity Markets?
We show that the supply of life annuities in the U.S. is constrained by interest rate risk. We identify this effect using annuity prices offered by U.S. life insurers from 1989 to 2019 and exogenous variations in contract-level regulatory capital requirements. The cost of interest rate risk management accounts for at least half of the average life annuity markups or eight percentage points. The contribution of interest rate risk to annuity markups sharply increased after the great financial crisis, suggesting new retirees' opportunities to transfer their longevity risk are unlikely to improve ...