Virri, Maria
(Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
Bonus-malus systems are used globally to determine insurance premiums of motor liability policy-holders by observing past accident behavior. In these systems, policy-holders move between classes that represent different premiums. The number of accidents is used as an indicator of driving skills or risk. The aim of bonus-malus systems is to assign premiums that correspond to risks by increasing premiums of policy-holders that have reported accidents and awarding discounts to those who have not.
Many types of bonus-malus systems are used and there is no consensus about what the optimal system looks like. Different tools can be utilized to measure the optimality, which is defined differently according to each tool. The purpose of this thesis is to examine one of these tools, elasticity. Elasticity aims to evaluate how well a given bonus-malus system achieves its goal of assigning premiums fairly according to the policy-holders’ risks by measuring the response of the premiums to changes in the number of accidents.
Bonus-malus systems can be mathematically modeled using stochastic processes called Markov chains, and accident behavior can be modeled using Poisson distributions. These two concepts of probability theory and their properties are introduced and applied to bonus-malus systems in the beginning of this thesis. Two types of elasticities are then discussed. Asymptotic elasticity is defined using Markov chain properties, while transient elasticity is based on a concept called the discounted expectation of payments. It is shown how elasticity can be interpreted as a measure of optimality.
We will observe that it is typically impossible to have an optimal bonus-malus system for all policy-holders when optimality is measured using elasticity. Some policy-holders will inevitably subsidize other policy-holders by paying premiums that are unfairly large. More specifically, it will be shown that, for bonus-malus systems with certain elasticity values, lower-risk policy-holders will subsidize the higher-risk ones. Lastly, a method is devised to calculate the elasticity of a given bonus-malus system using programming language R. This method is then used to find the elasticities of five Finnish bonus-malus systems in order to evaluate and compare them.