How Do Hurricanes Affect Life Insurance Premiums? The Effects of Financial Constraints on Pricing

Abstract: I identify effects of financial constraints on firms’ product pricing decisions, using a sample of insurance groups (conglomerates) that contain both life and P&C (property & casualty) subsidiaries. P&C subsidiaries’ losses can tighten financial constraints for the life subsidiaries through internal capital markets. I present a model that predicts following P&C losses, premiums should fall for life policies that initially increase insurers’ statutory capital, and rise for policies that initially decrease capital. Empirically, I find that P&C losses cause changes in life insurance premiums as my model predicts. The effects are concentrated in more financially constrained groups. Evidence also indicates that life subsidiaries increase capital transfers to P&C subsidiaries following larger P&C losses. These results hold when instrumenting for P&C losses using data on weather damages, implying that P&C losses do cause changes in life insurance premiums and internal capital transfers. My findings suggest that when financial constraints tighten, firms change product prices to relax the constraints, and how prices change depends on the initial impact of selling the products on firms’ financial resources.

Author: Shan Ge

Date: November 8, 2017

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