A new class of models for heavy tailed distributions in finance and insurance risk

Soohan Ahn, Joseph H.T. Kim, Vaidyanathan Ramaswami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Many insurance loss data are known to be heavy-tailed. In this article we study the class of Log phase-type (LogPH) distributions as a parametric alternative in fitting heavy tailed data. Transformed from the popular phase-type distribution class, the LogPH introduced by Ramaswami exhibits several advantages over other parametric alternatives. We analytically derive its tail related quantities including the conditional tail moments and the mean excess function, and also discuss its tail thickness in the context of extreme value theory. Because of its denseness proved herein, we argue that the LogPH can offer a rich class of heavy-tailed loss distributions without separate modeling for the tail side, which is the case for the generalized Pareto distribution (GPD). As a numerical example we use the well-known Danish fire data to calibrate the LogPH model and compare the result with that of the GPD. We also present fitting results for a set of insurance guarantee loss data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-52
Number of pages10
JournalInsurance: Mathematics and Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Data fitting
  • Extreme value theory
  • Generalized Pareto distribution
  • Heavy tail
  • Log phase-type distribution


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