We present two examples to illustrate the notion of Bayesian predictive distributions. The general insurance problem we aim to illustrate is that of using past claim experience data from an individual insured or a group of insureds to predict the future claim experience. Suppose we have with each being the number of claims or an aggregate amount of claims in a prior period of observation. Given such results, what will be the number of claims during the next period, or what will be the aggregate claim amount in the next period? These two examples will motivate the notion of credibility, both Bayesian credibility theory and Buhlmann credibility theory. We present Example 1 in this post. Example 2 is presented in the next post (Examples of Bayesian prediction in insurance-continued).

**Example 1**

In this random experiment, there are a big bowl (called B) and two boxes (Box 1 and Box 2). Bowl B consists of a large quantity of balls, 80% of which are white and 20% of which are red. In Box 1, 60% of the balls are labeled 0, 30% are labeled 1 and 10% are labeled 2. In Box 2, 15% of the balls are labeled 0, 35% are labeled 1 and 50% are labeled 2. In the experiment, a ball is selected at random from bowl B. The color of the selected ball from bowl B determines which box to use (if the ball is white, then use Box 1, if red, use Box 2). Then balls are drawn at random from the selected box (Box ) repeatedly with replacement and the values of the series of selected balls are recorded. The value of first selected ball is , the value of the second selected ball is and so on.

Suppose that your friend performs this random experiment (you do not know whether he uses Box 1 or Box 2) and that his first ball is a 1 () and his second ball is a 2 (). What is the predicted value of the third selected ball?

Though it is straightforward to apply the Bayes’ theorem to this problem (the solution can be seen easily using a tree diagram) to obtain a numerical answer, we use this example to draw out the principle of Bayesian prediction. So it may appear that we are making a simple problem overly complicated. We are merely using this example to motivate the method of Bayesian estimation.

For convenience, we denote “draw a white ball from bowl B” by and “draw a red ball from bowl B” by . Box 1 and Box 2 are conditional distributions. The Bowl B is a distribution for the parameter . The distribution given in Bowl B is a probability distribution over the space of all parameter values (called a prior distribution). The prior distribution of and the conditional distributions of given are restated as follows:

The following shows the conditional means and the unconditional mean .

If you know which particular box your friend is using ( or ), then the estimate of the next ball should be . But the value of is unkown to you. Another alternative for a predicted value is the unconditional mean . While the estimate is easy to calculate, this estimate does not take the observed data ( and ) into account and it certainly does not take the parameter into account. A third alternative is to incorporate the observed data into the estimate of the next ball. We now continue with the calculation of the Bayesian estimation.

**Unconditional Distribution**

*Marginal Probability*

*Posterior Distribution of *

*Predictive Distribution of *

Here is another formulation of the predictive distribution of . See the general methodology section below.

The posterior distribution is the conditional probability distribution of the parameter given the observed data and . This is a result of applying the Bayes’ theorem. The predictive distribution is the conditional probability distribution of a new observation given the past observed data of and . Since both of these distributions incorporate the past observations, the Bayesian estimate of the next observation is the mean of the predictive distribution.

Note that we compute the Bayesian estimate in two ways, one using the predictive distribution and the other using the posterior distribution of the parameter . The Bayesian estimate is the mean of the hypothetical means with expectation taken over the entire posterior distribution .

**Discussion of General Methodology**

We now use Example 1 to draw out general methodology. We first describe the discrete case and have the continuous case as a generalization.

Suppose we have a family of conditional density functions . In Example 1, the bowl B is the distribution of the parameter . Box 1 and Box 2 are the conditional distributions with density . In an insurance application, the is a risk parameter and the conditional distribution is the claim experience in a given fixed period (conditional on ).

Suppose that (conditional on ) are independent and identically distributed where the common density function is . In our Example 1, once a box is selected (e.g. Box 1), then the repeated drawing of the balls are independent and identically distributed. In an insurance application, the are the claim experience from an insured (or a group of insureds) where the insured belongs to the risk class with parameter .

We are interested in the conditional distribution of given to predict . In our example, is the value of the ball in the draw. In an insurance application, may be the claim experience of an insured (or a group of insureds) in the next policy period. We can use the unconditional mean (the mean of the hypothetical means). This approach does not take the risk parameter of the insured into the equation. On the other hand, if we know the value of , then we can use . But the risk parameter is usually unknown. The natural alternative is to condition on the observed experience in the prior periods rather than conditioning on the risk parameter . Thus we derive the predictive distribution of given the observation . Given the observed experience data , the following is the derivation of the Bayesian predictive distribution. Note that the prior distribution of the parameter is .

**The Unconditional Distribution**

**The Marginal Distribution**

**The Posterior Distribution**

**The Predictive Distribution**

Another formulation is:

**The Bayesian Predictive Mean of the Next Period**

We state the same results for the case that the claim experience is continuous.

**The Unconditional Distribution**

**The Marginal Distribution**

**The Posterior Distribution**

**The Predictive Distribution**

Another formulation is:

**The Bayesian Predictive Mean of the Next Period**

See the next post (Examples of Bayesian prediction in insurance-continued) for Example 2.