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Debt Capacity, Cost of Debt, and Corporate Insurance

  • Hong Zou and Mike B. Adams

Using a unique insurance dataset for a sample of Chinese publicly listed companies for the period 1997 through 2003, this study tests the simultaneous linkages between debt capacity, cost of debt, and corporate property insurance. Our results suggest that, on the one hand, a higher cost of debt appears to motivate the use of more property insurance, but high leverage alone does not lead to the purchase of more property insurance. The latter finding might reflect the unique institutional setting of China, for example, where there is a low chanceof legally enforced company liquidation. Also, there is evidence that leverage can interact with tangible assets intensity and exert a positive conjoint effect on the corporate purchase ofproperty insurance. On the other hand, we find evidence that supports that property insurance helps expand insuring firms' debt capacity and helps lower their borrowing costs. However, themoderate evidence on the cost reduction effect suggests that lowering the borrowing cost is likely to be a concern secondary to facilitating corporate borrowing and thereby expanding debt capacity in corporate property insurance decisions in China. Overall, we conclude that debt capacity, cost of debt, and corporate insurance appear to be simultaneously related.

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Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis
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