Abstract

We conduct a series of field experiments to evaluate the quality of advice provided by life insurance agents in India. Agents overwhelmingly recommend unsuitable, strictly dominated products that provide high commissions to the agent. Agents cater to the beliefs of uninformed consumers, even when those beliefs are wrong. We also find that agents appear to focus on maximizing the amount of premiums (and therefore their commissions) that customers pay, as opposed to focusing on how much insurance coverage customers need. A natural experiment requiring disclosure of commissions for a specific product results in agents recommending alternative products with high commissions but no disclosure requirement. A follow-up agent survey sheds light on the extent to which poor advice reflects both the commission incentives and agents’ limited product knowledge.

Supplementary data

You do not currently have access to this content.