Table of contents
How to Choose Life Insurance
Life insurance is a product that almost everyone should own, but many people do not. There are plenty of people who don't even want to think or discuss it because it is associated with death.
Understand why people purchase life insurance coverage. People do this to protect debts (perhaps a mortgage), family costs or school fees (in the event of a parent passing away), to protect a business (against the loss of a vital partner), or as part of their overall estate planning. Virtually everyone in society with any family, assets or responsibilities needs some life insurance coverage.
Learn the two basic types of insurance: term and permanent.
* Term insurance is temporary and only lasts for a predetermined predetermined 'term' at the outset. This may be for a short period of time for a specific purpose or potentially twenty or thirty years. If you pass away a few days after coverage has ended, there will be no payout.
* Permanent insurance will cost more up front, but is intended to last a lifetime ensuring that someone receives a benefit from the policy. There are different types of permanent insurance, whole life, universal life and variable universal life.
Consult a professional advisor. They are knowledgeable in the different products available, and can help you determine what type of coverage you need for your particular situation. You might want to consider a broker, someone who works with a range of companies, rather than an advisor who deals with just one company. Brokers are independent and have a much broader market perspective.
In Canada, the death benefit payout from a life insurance policy is tax-free, whereas if the money were to flow through an estate it would be taxable. This makes a life insurance policy a valuable way to pass on an inheritance.
Many people take the lowest cost option and purchase the bare minimum of cover. Look to be fully covered rather than just partially so.
Insurability can mean either whether a particular type of loss (risk) can be insured in theory, or whether a particular client is insurable for by a particular company because of particular circumstance and the quality assigned by an insurance provider pertaining to the risk that a given client would have.
An individual with very low insurability may be said to be uninsurable, and an insurance company will refuse to issue a policy to such an applicant. For example, an individual with a terminal illness and a life expectency of 6 months would be uninsurable for term life insurance. This is because the probability is so high for the individual to die within the term of the insurance, that he/she would present much too high a liability for the insurance company. A similar, and stereotypical, example would be earthquake insurance in California.
Insurability is sometimes an issue in case law of torts and contracts. It also comes up in issues involving tontines and other insurance fraud schemes. In real property law and real estate, insurability of title means the realty is marketable.
Characteristics of insurable risks
Risk which can be insured by private companies typically share seven common characteristics:
# Large number of similar exposure units.
# Definite Loss.
# Accidental Loss.
# Large Loss.
# Affordable Premium.
# Calculable Loss.
# Limited risk of catastrophically large losses.
* 1.1. Insurability
Insurance Companies in UK
UK Insurance Companies: Car - Life - Pet - Travel - Home - House assurance
# Lifepro Discount Life Insurance
# Peart Associates Ltd - Sports and High Performance vehicle insurance
# Holiday Insurance from GOSURE
# Go Travel Insurance
# Holiday Insurance from GOSURE
# A1 Insurance
# Abbey Online
# Admiral Motor Insurance
# Go Travel Insurance
# IHI high-class health insurance
# Its4me Car Insurance
# Student Insurance Campus
# LLoyds Insurance
# The Insurance Center (competitive quotes from multiple companies to provide best quote)
# Allied Dunbar insurance
# Travel Insurance Online From £9.95
# Travel Safe insurance for Travel
# Association of British Insurers
# Athena Insurance Services
# Roadsure Specialist car insurer of kit cars classics 4X4 etc.
# AXA Insurance House Car Travel
# Blue Chip Insurance Services
# Broker Alliance, The
# Boshers Insurance
# Insure & Go Holiday Insurance
# Insurance Broker Pages
# Canada Life Assurance Company
# Car Crash Line
# Chartered Insurance Institute
# Claims Direct
# Insure & Go Pet Insurance
# Insure For Less
# Church Hill
# Elephant Internet
# First Call Insurance Services Insurance Broker
# Cheapest Life Cover On The Internet
# Chris Thompson Insurance
# Co-operative Insurance Society Ltd, The
# Cliick net insurance
# David Foreman and Co
# Dial Direct
# Direct Group PLC
# Direct Insurance
# Direct Insurance Group
# Eastwood Insurance .co.uk
# Eagle Star Direct
# Equitable Life
# Its 4 Me Internet Insurance Company Car Insuance Speciality
# Insurance Line, The
# Insurance Ombudsman Bureau, The
# Insurance UK
# Legal & General Assurance society Ltd
# Lark Insurance
# Life insurance the easy way
# National Mutual Insurance
# NFU Mutual Insurance
# Norwich Union Insurance
# Ocean Finance
# Special Rates for Lady Drivers
# Pharmacy Mutual Insurance Co Ltd
# Privilege Cars
# Professional Insurance Agents
# Royal & Sun Alliance
# Royal Liver insurance
# Saga Group
# Scottish Amicable Insurance
# Scottish Widows Insurance
# Select Finance Insurance
# Sportscover Insurance
# Standard Life Insurance
# Sun Life Assurance Society plc
# Swinton Insurance
# Thomas Carroll
# Thomas Cook & Son
# Warwick Davis
# Vanguard Insurance
# World Trekker
# Worldcover Direct
# Worldwide Travel Insurance Services Ltd
# Zurich Insurance
How to Find the Best Life Insurance Quotes
from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
In the old days – that us, up until just a few years ago – when you wanted to buy life insurance protection for yourself or a loved one, you had to go through an insurance agent or insurance broker. Thanks to the internet, the process of getting a life insurance quote was revolutionized a few years ago. And thanks to companies that are leveraging new technologies, finding the best life insurance quotes today is even simpler than it was just two or three years back.
Now you don’t have to go from one life insurance company website to the next, requesting quotes. And you don’t have to rely on internet sites that compare 5, or 10, or even 20 life insurance quotes against each other. Some sites now compare as many as 100 different life insurance quotes – all from different life insurance carriers. You get more choices, so you can make the best choice for your life insurance needs!
- Instead of contacting an insurance agent or insurance broker, open your favorite internet browser and go to the “search” page of your preferred internet search engine.
- In the “search” bar, type in the keywords “compare 100 life insurance quotes.” You’ll get a list of companies that are using the newest computer technology to give you access to the most life insurance quote options.
- Select a company’s website to visit. Read the search results carefully and be sure you’re choosing a company that really can give you that many life insurance quotes to compare.
- Click on the link that says “Get a Quote” and enter some basic information about yourself. Your name, email address, gender, date of birth, height, weight, and occupation are the standard questions.
- If you have the option, enter some information about the kind of insurance you’re looking to purchase. You can get term insurance quote, whole life quote, and a variety of benefit amounts, too.
- When you’re done entering your information, click “submit.” You’ll receive an email from the company right away, and your life insurance quotes will be in your inbox before you know it!
Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Find the Best Life Insurance Quotes. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.
How to Get Auto Insurance for the Lowest Price
from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Almost every country that has a highway requires those driving on it to carry some type of auto insurance. Most people have no understanding of the coverage they are buying and what can influence the cost.
- Know what is required by the locality in which you are buying coverage. In the U.S. alone there are 50 different states with 53 different requirements(includes District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands). A little bit of research as to just what is required can save you big money.
- Decide what coverage and limits are best for you and your situation. Do you own a home? Do you have other property that you could lose in a lawsuit if you don't have enough coverage? You will normally have coverage for injuries you cause (Bodily Injury Liability), damage you cause (Property Damage Liability), and you may also carry coverage for injuries you receive (Personal Injury Protection, Medical Payments, Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury) or damage to your property (Other Than Collision, sometimes referred to as OTC or Comprehensive, and Collision or Uninsured Motorist Property Damage).
- Decide whether you want to work face to face (or over the phone) with an agent or do you prefer to do everything yourself online. Policies through an agent are generally no more expensive than an online policy and can many times be less expensive since the agent is educated in what is and is not necessary. Some states in the U.S. allow agents or brokers to charge a fee for their services, discuss this with whomever you call to be aware of what fees (if any) may be charged.
- Find an agent. After your research into what coverage and limits would be best for you check prices. An independent agent or broker will often "shop" for you free of charge. He/she will take the information you provide and compare several companies to find you the best balance of coverage and cost. Some websites also offer their rate and the rates of what they consider to be their top competitors. Keep in mind, their top competitors may not offer the best balance as there are literally thousands of different companies and programs available in the U.S. alone. A "captive" agent, or an agent who is employed by the company they represent can usually only answer questions about that company.
- Gain a comfort level. If you are not comfortable with the agency or company you first find, find another. Just like there are thousands of different cars on the highways there are thousands of different agents, companies, brokers, programs, and ways of getting your needs fulfilled.
- Get as much of your information together as possible before calling or beginning an online search. Normal information needed may include your name, address, birthday, marital status, driving record, credit information, vehicle information (including the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN), finance information, any other drivers and their information.
- Bear in mind younger drivers and senior drivers can adversely effect the rate. (Since, statistically, inexperienced operators and senior operators are involved in accidents more often.) Insurance is based on large groups of people placing resources (premiums) into a pool that is used to pay claims. Even though you may never make a claim you insure yourself in case something happens and the monies you put forward help offset the costs of those who do make claims. After all, it's called an accident, not an on-purpose.
- Ask Questions. If you don't understand a coverage, ask your agent to explain it to you. If you want something covered that you're unsure of ask about it.
- Even if you do not have assets (home, stocks/bonds, other property) to protect it is always best to buy the most coverage you can afford. If your city/state/country only requires $10,000 of coverage for damage caused to someone else's property is that really enough coverage to keep you from being sued? Even if you have nothing to lose in a lawsuit do you have the time and money to defend yourself in that lawsuit? That's what the insurance is for.
- Be polite and honest. If you have numerous accidents and violations you will pay for it. Simply not telling the agent or not filling in the information on the website may initially get you a lower rate but it will eventually catch up and cost you. Being charged with insurance fraud is also a possibility in extreme situations. Keep in mind the person with whom you are speaking is providing you a service and it is not usually within his or her control to influence the premiums you pay by a great deal.
- an SR22 (State Required Filing Form) can sometimes be required if you have too many tickets or accidents
- Listen carefully to what the agent tells you or read the information carefully on a website to be sure you are getting the coverage you want.
- Keep in mind an insurance "quote" is an estimate only, not a firm price. A final price is not determined until information is verified by the insurance company.
Things You'll Need
- Drivers License or at least the number
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Other Driver Information
Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Get Auto Insurance for the Lowest Price. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.
No matter how careful you are, there's always a chance that an accident can occur. Whether you're taking the bus to work or driving to the grocery, an unforeseen event can happen to you.
Accident insurance provides a cash cover to a policyholder when she or he suffers injuries as a result of an accident. While insurance helps a policyholder pay off hospital and medical bills in case of accident injuries, it provides cash benefits to family members if the policyholder dies in the accident. Accident insurance can help protect your family from financial losses caused by your accidental death, injuries or disabilities caused solely by violent, accidental, external and visible events, as defined in the policy. Personal accident insurance provides 24-hour worldwide insurance protection. It is different from life insurance and medical & health insurance.
Types of Personal Accident Insurance Policies
Under personal accident insurance, the policyholder, if injured, receives cash benefits every month, just like income, for as long as s/he is unable to work due to the accidental injuries. This income is non-taxable and does not exceed the policyholder’s after-tax earnings minus the state benefits s/he can claim. In case of death of the policyholder due to an accident, the family receives a specific lump-sum amount.
There are eight common types of personal accident insurance policies:
Individual: This policy can be taken by any individual. The benefits usually enclose partners and children. It is not as useful for people who love adventurous sports and activities, since some of those activities are not included in this policy.
Children: The purpose of this policy is to provide financial help to parents if they are unable to work or if they incur expenses as a result of an accident.
Group: For company employees as the expenses related to accidents.
Self-employed: Self employed individuals are not eligible for employee benefits, so they are worse off when injured in an accident.
Team: Through a team accident insurance policy, organizers can seek cover for all the members of a sports team.
Professional: Specifically for self employed professionals who have special requirements: sportsperson, actor, lawyer or doctor.
Over 50: For people over 50 years of age, as accidents can cause more grievous injuries to them.
Travel accidents: This policy offers benefits in case the policyholder meets with an accident while traveling.
The types of coverage normally provided under a personal accident policy include:
- Accidental death
- Permanent disablement
- Temporary total or partial disablement
- Medical expenses
- Corrective surgery
- Hospitalization benefits
- Funeral expenses
Be aware of the exclusions of the policy which will not allow you to claim from the insurance company.
8.6. The insurance industry and rent seeking
8.6. Controversies: The insurance industry and rent seeking
Certain insurance products and practices have been described as rent seeking by critics. That is, some insurance products or practices are useful primarily because of legal benefits, such as reducing taxes, as opposed to providing protection against risks of adverse events. Under United States tax law, for example, most owners of variable annuities and variable life insurance can invest their premium payments in the stock market and defer or eliminate paying any taxes on their investments until withdrawals are made. Sometimes this tax deferral is the only reason people use these products. Another example is the legal infrastructure which allows life insurance to be held in an irrevocable trust which is used to pay an estate tax while the proceeds themselves are immune from the estate tax.
Read more about rent seeking...
8.5. Insurance patents
8.5. Controversies: Insurance patents
New assurance products can now be protected from copying with a business method patent in the United States.
A recent example of a new insurance product that is patented is Usage Based auto insurance. Early versions were independently invented and patented by a major U.S. auto insurance company, Progressive Auto Insurance (U.S. Patent 5,797,134) and a Spanish independent inventor, Salvador Minguijon Perez (EP patent 0700009 ).
Many independent inventors are in favor of patenting new insurance products since it gives them protection from big companies when they bring their new insurance products to market. Independent inventors account for 70% of the new U.S. patent applications in this area.
Many insurance executives are opposed to patenting insurance products because it creates a new risk for them. The Hartford insurance company, for example, recently had to pay $80 million to an independent inventor, Bancorp Services, in order to settle a patent infringement and theft of trade secret lawsuit for a type of corporate owned life insurance product invented and patented by Bancorp.
There are currently about 150 new patent applications on insurance inventions filed per year in the United States. The rate at which patents have issued has steadily risen from 15 in 2002 to 44 in 2006.
Inventors can now have their insurance U.S. patent applications reviewed by the public in the Peer to Patent program. The first insurance patent application to be posted was US2009005522 “Risk assessment company”. It was posted on March 6, 2009. This patent application describes a method for increasing the ease of changing insurance companies.
8.4. Controversies: Redlining
Redlining is the practice of denying insurance coverage in specific geographic areas, supposedly because of a high likelihood of loss, while the alleged motivation is unlawful discrimination. Racial profiling or redlining has a long history in the property insurance industry in the United States. From a review of industry underwriting and marketing materials, court documents, and research by government agencies, industry and community groups, and academics, it is clear that race has long affected and continues to affect the policies and practices of the insurance industry.
In July, 2007, The Federal Trade Commission released a report presenting the results of a study concerning credit-based insurance scores and automobile insurance. The study found that these scores are effective predictors of the claims that consumers will file.
All states have provisions in their rate regulation laws or in their fair trade practice acts that prohibit unfair discrimination, often called redlining, in setting rates and making insurance available.
In determining premiums and premium rate structures, insurers consider quantifiable factors, including location, credit scores, gender, occupation, marital status, and education level. However, the use of such factors is often considered to be unfair or unlawfully discriminatory, and the reaction against this practice has in some instances led to political disputes about the ways in which insurers determine premiums and regulatory intervention to limit the factors used.
An insurance underwriter's job is to evaluate a given risk as to the likelihood that a loss will occur. Any factor that causes a greater likelihood of loss should theoretically be charged a higher rate. This basic principle of insurance must be followed if insurance companies are to remain solvent. Thus, "discrimination" against (i.e., negative differential treatment of) potential insureds in the risk evaluation and premium-setting process is a necessary by-product of the fundamentals of insurance underwriting. For instance, insurers charge older people significantly higher premiums than they charge younger people for term life insurance. Older people are thus treated differently than younger people (i.e., a distinction is made, discrimination occurs). The rationale for the differential treatment goes to the heart of the risk a life insurer takes: Old people are likely to die sooner than young people, so the risk of loss (the insured's death) is greater in any given period of time and therefore the risk premium must be higher to cover the greater risk. However, treating insureds differently when there is no actuarially sound reason for doing so is unlawful discrimination.
What is often missing from the debate is that prohibiting the use of legitimate, actuarially sound factors means that an insufficient amount is being charged for a given risk, and there is thus a deficit in the system. The failure to address the deficit may mean insolvency and hardship for all of a company's insureds. The options for addressing the deficit seem to be the following: Charge the deficit to the other policyholders or charge it to the government (i.e., externalize outside of the company to society at large).
8.3. Complexity of insurance policy contracts
8.3. Controversies: Complexity of insurance policy contracts
Insurance policies can be complex and some policyholders may not understand all the fees and coverages included in a policy. As a result, people may buy policies on unfavorable terms. In response to these issues, many countries have enacted detailed statutory and regulatory regimes governing every aspect of the insurance business, including minimum standards for policies and the ways in which they may be advertised and sold.
For example, most insurance policies in the English language today have been carefully drafted in plain English; the industry learned the hard way that many courts will not enforce policies against insureds when the judges themselves cannot understand what the policies are saying.
Many institutional insurance purchasers buy insurance through an insurance broker. While on the surface it appears the broker represents the buyer (not the insurance company), and typically counsels the buyer on appropriate coverage and policy limitations, it should be noted that in the vast majority of cases a broker's compensation comes in the form of a commission as a percentage of the insurance premium, creating a conflict of interest in that the broker's financial interest is tilted towards encouraging an insured to purchase more insurance than might be necessary at a higher price. A broker generally holds contracts with many insurers, thereby allowing the broker to "shop" the market for the best rates and coverage possible.
Insurance may also be purchased through an agent. Unlike a broker, who represents the policyholder, an agent represents the insurance company from whom the policyholder buys. An agent can represent more than one company.
An independent insurance consultant advises insureds on a fee-for-service retainer, similar to an attorney, and thus offers completely independent advice, free of the financial conflict of interest of brokers and/or agents. However, such a consultant must still work through brokers and/or agents in order to secure coverage for their clients.
8.2. Insurance insulates too much
8.2. Controversies: Insurance insulates too much
By creating a "security blanket" for its insureds, an insurance company may inadvertently find that its insureds may not be as risk-averse as they might otherwise be (since, by definition, the insured has transferred the risk to the insurer), a concept known as moral hazard. To reduce their own financial exposure, insurance companies have contractual clauses that mitigate their obligation to provide coverage if the insured engages in behavior that grossly magnifies their risk of loss or liability.
For example, life insurance companies may require higher premiums or deny coverage altogether to people who work in hazardous occupations or engage in dangerous sports. Liability insurance providers do not provide coverage for liability arising from intentional torts committed by or at the direction of the insured. Even if a provider were so irrational as to want to provide such coverage, it is against the public policy of most countries to allow such insurance to exist, and thus it is usually illegal.
8.1. Religious concerns
8.1. Controversies: Religious concerns
Muslim scholars have varying opinions about insurance. Insurance policies that earn interest are generally considered to be a form of riba (usury) and some consider even policies that do not earn interest to be a form of gharar (speculation). Some argue that gharar is not present due to the actuarial science behind the underwriting.
Jewish rabbinical scholars also have expressed reservations regarding insurance as an avoidance of God's will but most find it acceptable in moderation.
Some Christians believe insurance represents a lack of faith and there is a long history of resistance to commercial insurance in Anabaptist communities (Mennonites, Amish, Hutterites, Brethren in Christ) but many participate in community-based self-insurance programs that spread risk within their communities.
7. Global insurance industry
Global insurance premiums grew by 3.4% in 2008 to reach $4.3 trillion. For the first time in the past three decades, premium income declined in inflation-adjusted terms, with non-life premiums falling by 0.8% and life premiums falling by 3.5%. The insurance industry is exposed to the global economic downturn on the assets side by the decline in returns on investments and on the liabilities side by a rise in claims. So far the extent of losses on both sides has been limited although investment returns fell sharply following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and bailout of AIG in September 2008. The financial crisis has shown that the insurance sector is sufficiently capitalised. The vast majority of insurance companies had enough capital to absorb losses and only a small number turned to government for support.
Advanced economies account for the bulk of global insurance. With premium income of $1,753bn, Europe was the most important region in 2008, followed by North America $1,346bn and Asia $933bn. The top four countries generated more than a half of premiums. The US and Japan alone accounted for 40% of world insurance, much higher than their 7% share of the global population. Emerging markets accounted for over 85% of the world’s population but generated only around 10% of premiums. Their markets are however growing at a quicker pace.
6. Insurance companies
Insurance companies may be classified into two groups:
* Life insurance companies, which sell life insurance, annuities and pensions products.
* Non-life, General, or Property/Casualty insurance companies, which sell other types of insurance.
General insurance companies can be further divided into these sub categories.
* Standard Lines
* Excess Lines
In most countries, life and non-life insurers are subject to different regulatory regimes and different tax and accounting rules. The main reason for the distinction between the two types of company is that life, annuity, and pension business is very long-term in nature — coverage for life assurance or a pension can cover risks over many decades. By contrast, non-life insurance cover usually covers a shorter period, such as one year.
In the United States, standard line insurance companies are "mainstream" insurers. These are the companies that typically insure autos, homes or businesses. They use pattern or "cookie-cutter" policies without variation from one person to the next. They usually have lower premiums than excess lines and can sell directly to individuals. They are regulated by state laws that can restrict the amount they can charge for insurance policies.
Excess line insurance companies (also known as Excess and Surplus) typically insure risks not covered by the standard lines market. They are broadly referred as being all insurance placed with non-admitted insurers. Non-admitted insurers are not licensed in the states where the risks are located. These companies have more flexibility and can react faster than standard insurance companies because they are not required to file rates and forms as the "admitted" carriers do. However, they still have substantial regulatory requirements placed upon them. State laws generally require insurance placed with surplus line agents and brokers not to be available through standard licensed insurers.
Insurance companies are generally classified as either mutual or stock companies. Mutual companies are owned by the policyholders, while stockholders (who may or may not own policies) own stock insurance companies. Demutualization of mutual insurers to form stock companies, as well as the formation of a hybrid known as a mutual holding company, became common in some countries, such as the United States, in the late 20th century.
Other possible forms for an insurance company include reciprocals, in which policyholders 'reciprocate' in sharing risks, and Lloyd's organizations.
Insurance companies are rated by various agencies such as A. M. Best. The ratings include the company's financial strength, which measures its ability to pay claims. It also rates financial instruments issued by the insurance company, such as bonds, notes, and securitization products.
Reinsurance companies are insurance companies that sell policies to other insurance companies, allowing them to reduce their risks and protect themselves from very large losses. The reinsurance market is dominated by a few very large companies, with huge reserves. A reinsurer may also be a direct writer of insurance risks as well.
Captive insurance companies may be defined as limited-purpose insurance companies established with the specific objective of financing risks emanating from their parent group or groups. This definition can sometimes be extended to include some of the risks of the parent company's customers. In short, it is an in-house self-insurance vehicle. Captives may take the form of a "pure" entity (which is a 100% subsidiary of the self-insured parent company); of a "mutual" captive (which insures the collective risks of members of an industry); and of an "association" captive (which self-insures individual risks of the members of a professional, commercial or industrial association). Captives represent commercial, economic and tax advantages to their sponsors because of the reductions in costs they help create and for the ease of insurance risk management and the flexibility for cash flows they generate. Additionally, they may provide coverage of risks which is neither available nor offered in the traditional insurance market at reasonable prices.
The types of risk that a captive can underwrite for their parents include property damage, public and product liability, professional indemnity, employee benefits, employers' liability, motor and medical aid expenses. The captive's exposure to such risks may be limited by the use of reinsurance.
Captives are becoming an increasingly important component of the risk management and risk financing strategy of their parent. This can be understood against the following background:
* heavy and increasing premium costs in almost every line of coverage;
* difficulties in insuring certain types of fortuitous risk;
* differential coverage standards in various parts of the world;
* rating structures which reflect market trends rather than individual loss experience;
* insufficient credit for deductibles and/or loss control efforts.
There are also companies known as 'insurance consultants'. Like a mortgage broker, these companies are paid a fee by the customer to shop around for the best insurance policy amongst many companies. Similar to an insurance consultant, an 'insurance broker' also shops around for the best insurance policy amongst many companies. However, with insurance brokers, the fee is usually paid in the form of commission from the insurer that is selected rather than directly from the client.
Neither insurance consultants nor insurance brokers are insurance companies and no risks are transferred to them in insurance transactions. Third party administrators are companies that perform underwriting and sometimes claims handling services for insurance companies. These companies often have special expertise that the insurance companies do not have.
The financial stability and strength of an insurance company should be a major consideration when buying an insurance contract. An insurance premium paid currently provides coverage for losses that might arise many years in the future. For that reason, the viability of the insurance carrier is very important. In recent years, a number of insurance companies have become insolvent, leaving their policyholders with no coverage (or coverage only from a government-backed insurance pool or other arrangement with less attractive payouts for losses). A number of independent rating agencies provide information and rate the financial viability of insurance companies.
5.12. Closed community self-insurance
Some communities prefer to create virtual insurance amongst themselves by other means than contractual risk transfer, which assigns explicit numerical values to risk. A number of religious groups, including the Amish and some Muslim groups, depend on support provided by their communities when disasters strike. The risk presented by any given person is assumed collectively by the community who all bear the cost of rebuilding lost property and supporting people whose needs are suddenly greater after a loss of some kind. In supportive communities where others can be trusted to follow community leaders, this tacit form of insurance can work. In this manner the community can even out the extreme differences in insurability that exist among its members. Some further justification is also provided by invoking the moral hazard of explicit insurance contracts.
In the United Kingdom, The Crown (which, for practical purposes, meant the Civil service) did not insure property such as government buildings. If a government building was damaged, the cost of repair would be met from public funds because, in the long run, this was cheaper than paying insurance premiums. Since many UK government buildings have been sold to property companies, and rented back, this arrangement is now less common and may have disappeared altogether.
5.11. Insurance financing vehicles
Fraternal insurance is provided on a cooperative basis by fraternal benefit societies or other social organizations.
No-fault insurance is a type of insurance policy (typically automobile insurance) where insureds are indemnified by their own insurer regardless of fault in the incident.
Protected Self-Insurance is an alternative risk financing mechanism in which an organization retains the mathematically calculated cost of risk within the organization and transfers the catastrophic risk with specific and aggregate limits to an insurer so the maximum total cost of the program is known. A properly designed and underwritten Protected Self-Insurance Program reduces and stabilizes the cost of insurance and provides valuable risk management information.
Retrospectively Rated Insurance is a method of establishing a premium on large commercial accounts. The final premium is based on the insured's actual loss experience during the policy term, sometimes subject to a minimum and maximum premium, with the final premium determined by a formula. Under this plan, the current year's premium is based partially (or wholly) on the current year's losses, although the premium adjustments may take months or years beyond the current year's expiration date. The rating formula is guaranteed in the insurance contract. Formula: retrospective premium = converted loss + basic premium × tax multiplier. Numerous variations of this formula have been developed and are in use.
Formal self insurance is the deliberate decision to pay for otherwise insurable losses out of one's own money. This can be done on a formal basis by establishing a separate fund into which funds are deposited on a periodic basis, or by simply forgoing the purchase of available insurance and paying out-of-pocket. Self insurance is usually used to pay for high-frequency, low-severity losses. Such losses, if covered by conventional insurance, mean having to pay a premium that includes loadings for the company's general expenses, cost of putting the policy on the books, acquisition expenses, premium taxes, and contingencies. While this is true for all insurance, for small, frequent losses the transaction costs may exceed the benefit of volatility reduction that insurance otherwise affords.
Reinsurance is a type of insurance purchased by insurance companies or self-insured employers to protect against unexpected losses. Financial reinsurance is a form of reinsurance that is primarily used for capital management rather than to transfer insurance risk.
Social insurance can be many things to many people in many countries. But a summary of its essence is that it is a collection of insurance coverages (including components of life insurance, disability income insurance, unemployment insurance, health insurance, and others), plus retirement savings, that requires participation by all citizens. By forcing everyone in society to be a policyholder and pay premiums, it ensures that everyone can become a claimant when or if he/she needs to. Along the way this inevitably becomes related to other concepts such as the justice system and the welfare state. This is a large, complicated topic that engenders tremendous debate, which can be further studied in the following articles (and others):
- National Insurance
- Social safety net
- Social security
- Social Security debate (United States)
- Social Security (United States)
- Social welfare provision
Stop-loss insurance provides protection against catastrophic or unpredictable losses. It is purchased by organizations who do not want to assume 100% of the liability for losses arising from the plans. Under a stop-loss policy, the insurance company becomes liable for losses that exceed certain limits called deductibles.
5.10. Other types of insurance
Collateral protection insurance or CPI, insures property (primarily vehicles) held as collateral for loans made by lending institutions.
Defense Base Act Workers' compensation or DBA Insurance provides coverage for civilian workers hired by the government to perform contracts outside the U.S. and Canada. DBA is required for all U.S. citizens, U.S. residents, U.S. Green Card holders, and all employees or subcontractors hired on overseas government contracts. Depending on the country, Foreign Nationals must also be covered under DBA. This coverage typically includes expenses related to medical treatment and loss of wages, as well as disability and death benefits.
Expatriate insurance provides individuals and organizations operating outside of their home country with protection for automobiles, property, health, liability and business pursuits.
Financial loss insurance or Business Interruption Insurance protects individuals and companies against various financial risks. For example, a business might purchase coverage to protect it from loss of sales if a fire in a factory prevented it from carrying out its business for a time. Insurance might also cover the failure of a creditor to pay money it owes to the insured. This type of insurance is frequently referred to as "business interruption insurance." Fidelity bonds and surety bonds are included in this category, although these products provide a benefit to a third party (the "obligee") in the event the insured party (usually referred to as the "obligor") fails to perform its obligations under a contract with the obligee.
Kidnap and ransom insurance
Legal Expenses Insurance covers policyholders against the potential costs of legal action against an institution or an individual.
Locked funds insurance is a little-known hybrid insurance policy jointly issued by governments and banks. It is used to protect public funds from tamper by unauthorized parties. In special cases, a government may authorize its use in protecting semi-private funds which are liable to tamper. The terms of this type of insurance are usually very strict. Therefore it is used only in extreme cases where maximum security of funds is required.
Media insurance is designed to cover professionals that engage in film, video and TV production.
Nuclear incident insurance covers damages resulting from an incident involving radioactive materials and is generally arranged at the national level. See the Nuclear exclusion clause and for the United States the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act)
Pet insurance insures pets against accidents and illnesses - some companies cover routine/wellness care and burial, as well.
Pollution Insurance which consists of first-party coverage for contamination of insured property either by external or on-site sources. Coverage for liability to third parties arising from contamination of air, water, or land due to the sudden and accidental release of hazardous materials from the insured site. The policy usually covers the costs of cleanup and may include coverage for releases from underground storage tanks. Intentional acts are specifically excluded.
Purchase insurance is aimed at providing protection on the products people purchase. Purchase insurance can cover individual purchase protection, warranties, guarantees, care plans and even mobile phone insurance. Such insurance is normally very limited in the scope of problems that are covered by the policy.
Title insurance provides a guarantee that title to real property is vested in the purchaser and/or mortgagee, free and clear of liens or encumbrances. It is usually issued in conjunction with a search of the public records performed at the time of a real estate transaction.
Travel insurance is an insurance cover taken by those who travel abroad, which covers certain losses such as medical expenses, loss of personal belongings, travel delay, personal liabilities, etc.
5.9. Credit insurance
Credit insurance repays some or all of a loan when certain things happen to the borrower such as unemployment, disability, or death.
Mortgage insurance insures the lender against default by the borrower. Mortgage insurance is a form of credit insurance, although the name credit insurance more often is used to refer to policies that cover other kinds of debt.
Many credit cards offer payment protection plans which are a form of credit insurance.
5.8. Liability insurance
Liability insurance is a very broad superset that covers legal claims against the insured. Many types of insurance include an aspect of liability coverage. For example, a homeowner's insurance policy will normally include liability coverage which protects the insured in the event of a claim brought by someone who slips and falls on the property; automobile insurance also includes an aspect of liability insurance that indemnifies against the harm that a crashing car can cause to others' lives, health, or property. The protection offered by a liability insurance policy is twofold: a legal defense in the event of a lawsuit commenced against the policyholder and indemnification (payment on behalf of the insured) with respect to a settlement or court verdict. Liability policies typically cover only the negligence of the insured, and will not apply to results of wilful or intentional acts by the insured.
Public liability insurance covers a business against claims should its operations injure a member of the public or damage their property in some way.
Directors and officers liability insurance protects an organization (usually a corporation) from costs associated with litigation resulting from mistakes made by directors and officers for which they are liable. In the industry, it is usually called "D&O" for short.
Environmental liability insurance protects the insured from bodily injury, property damage and cleanup costs as a result of the dispersal, release or escape of pollutants.
Errors and omissions insurance: See "Professional liability insurance" under "Liability insurance".
Prize indemnity insurance protects the insured from giving away a large prize at a specific event. Examples would include offering prizes to contestants who can make a half-court shot at a basketball game, or a hole-in-one at a golf tournament.
Professional liability insurance, also called professional indemnity insurance, protects insured professionals such as architectural corporation and medical practice against potential negligence claims made by their patients/clients. Professional liability insurance may take on different names depending on the profession. For example, professional liability insurance in reference to the medical profession may be called malpractice insurance. Notaries public may take out errors and omissions insurance (E&O). Other potential E&O policyholders include, for example, real estate brokers, Insurance agents, home inspectors, appraisers, and website developers.
5.7. Property insurance
Property insurance provides protection against risks to property, such as fire, theft or weather damage. This includes specialized forms of insurance such as fire insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, home insurance, inland marine insurance or boiler insurance.
Automobile insurance, known in the UK as motor insurance, is probably the most common form of insurance and may cover both legal liability claims against the driver and loss of or damage to the insured's vehicle itself. Throughout the United States an auto insurance policy is required to legally operate a motor vehicle on public roads. In some jurisdictions, bodily injury compensation for automobile accident victims has been changed to a no-fault system, which reduces or eliminates the ability to sue for compensation but provides automatic eligibility for benefits. Credit card companies insure against damage on rented cars.
* Driving School Insurance provides cover for any authorized driver whilst undergoing tuition, cover also unlike other motor policies provides cover for instructor liability where both the pupil and driving instructor are equally liable in the event of a claim.
Aviation insurance insures against hull, spares, deductibles, hull wear and liability risks.
Boiler insurance (also known as boiler and machinery insurance or equipment breakdown insurance) insures against accidental physical damage to equipment or machinery.
Builder's risk insurance insures against the risk of physical loss or damage to property during construction. Builder's risk insurance is typically written on an "all risk" basis covering damage due to any cause (including the negligence of the insured) not otherwise expressly excluded. Builder's risk insurance is coverage that protects a person's or organization's insurable interest in materials, fixtures and/or equipment being used in the construction or renovation of a building or structure should those items sustain physical loss or damage from a covered cause.
Crop insurance "Farmers use crop insurance to reduce or manage various risks associated with growing crops. Such risks include crop loss or damage caused by weather, hail, drought, frost damage, insects, or disease, for instance."
Earthquake insurance is a form of property insurance that pays the policyholder in the event of an earthquake that causes damage to the property. Most ordinary homeowners insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage. Most earthquake insurance policies feature a high deductible. Rates depend on location and the probability of an earthquake, as well as the construction of the home.
A fidelity bond is a form of casualty insurance that covers policyholders for losses that they incur as a result of fraudulent acts by specified individuals. It usually insures a business for losses caused by the dishonest acts of its employees.
Flood insurance protects against property loss due to flooding. Many insurers in the U.S. do not provide flood insurance in some portions of the country. In response to this, the federal government created the National Flood Insurance Program which serves as the insurer of last resort.
Home insurance, also commonly called hazard insurance or homeowners insurance (often abbreviated in the real estate industry as HOI), is the type of property insurance that covers private homes.
Landlord insurance covers residential and commercial properties which are rented to others. Most homeowner's insurance covers only owner-occupied homes.
Marine insurance and marine cargo insurance cover the loss or damage of ships at sea or on inland waterways, and of cargo in transit, regardless of the method of transit. When the owner of the cargo and the carrier are separate corporations, marine cargo insurance typically compensates the owner of cargo for losses sustained from fire, shipwreck, etc., but excludes losses that can be recovered from the carrier or the carrier's insurance. Many marine insurance underwriters will include "time element" coverage in such policies, which extends the indemnity to cover loss of profit and other business expenses attributable to the delay caused by a covered loss.
Surety bond insurance is a three party insurance guaranteeing the performance of the principal.
Terrorism insurance provides protection against any loss or damage caused by terrorist activities.
Volcano insurance is an insurance that covers volcano damage in Hawaii.
Windstorm insurance is an insurance covering the damage that can be caused by hurricanes and tropical cyclones.
5.6. Life insurance
Life insurance provides a monetary benefit to a decedent's family or other designated beneficiary, and may specifically provide for income to an insured person's family, burial, funeral and other final expenses. Life insurance policies often allow the option of having the proceeds paid to the beneficiary either in a lump sum cash payment or an annuity.
Annuities provide a stream of payments and are generally classified as insurance because they are issued by insurance companies and regulated as insurance and require the same kinds of actuarial and investment management expertise that life insurance requires. Annuities and pensions that pay a benefit for life are sometimes regarded as insurance against the possibility that a retiree will outlive his or her financial resources. In that sense, they are the complement of life insurance and, from an underwriting perspective, are the mirror image of life insurance.
Certain life insurance contracts accumulate cash values, which may be taken by the insured if the policy is surrendered or which may be borrowed against. Some policies, such as annuities and endowment policies, are financial instruments to accumulate or liquidate wealth when it is needed.
In many countries, such as the U.S. and the UK, the tax law provides that the interest on this cash value is not taxable under certain circumstances. This leads to widespread use of life insurance as a tax-efficient method of saving as well as protection in the event of early death.
In U.S., the tax on interest income on life insurance policies and annuities is generally deferred. However, in some cases the benefit derived from tax deferral may be offset by a low return. This depends upon the insuring company, the type of policy and other variables (mortality, market return, etc.). Moreover, other income tax saving vehicles (e.g., IRAs, 401(k) plans, Roth IRAs) may be better alternatives for value accumulation.
5.5. Casualty insurance
Casualty insurance insures against accidents, not necessarily tied to any specific property.
* Crime insurance is a form of casualty insurance that covers the policyholder against losses arising from the criminal acts of third parties. For example, a company can obtain crime insurance to cover losses arising from theft or embezzlement.
* Political risk insurance is a form of casualty insurance that can be taken out by businesses with operations in countries in which there is a risk that revolution or other political conditions will result in a loss.
5.4. Accident, Sickness and Unemployment Insurance
Disability insurance policies provide financial support in the event the policyholder is unable to work because of disabling illness or injury. It provides monthly support to help pay such obligations as mortgage loans and credit cards.
Disability overhead insurance allows business owners to cover the overhead expenses of their business while they are unable to work.
Total permanent disability insurance provides benefits when a person is permanently disabled and can no longer work in their profession, often taken as an adjunct to life insurance.
Workers' compensation insurance replaces all or part of a worker's wages lost and accompanying medical expenses incurred because of a job-related injury.
5.3. Health insurance
Health insurance policies by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom (NHS) or other publicly-funded health programs will cover the cost of medical treatments. Dental insurance, like medical insurance, is coverage for individuals to protect them against dental costs. In the U.S., dental insurance is often part of an employer's benefits package, along with health insurance.
5.2. Home insurance
Home insurance provides compensation for damage or destruction of a home from disasters. In some geographical areas, the standard insurances exclude certain types of disasters, such as flood and earthquakes, that require additional coverage. Maintenance-related problems are the homeowners' responsibility.
The policy may include inventory, or this can be bought as a separate policy, especially for people who rent housing. In some countries, insurers offer a package which may include liability and legal responsibility for injuries and property damage caused by members of the household, including pets.
5.1. Auto insurance
Auto insurance protects you against financial loss if you have an accident. It is a contract between the insured and the insurance company. You agree to pay the premium and the insurance company agrees to pay losses as defined in the policy. Auto insurance (car insurance) provides property, liability and medical coverage:
1. Property coverage pays for damage to or theft of the car.
2. Liability coverage pays for the legal responsibility to others for bodily injury or property damage.
3. Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses.
An auto insurance policy comprises six kinds of coverage. Most countries require you to buy some, but not all, of these coverages. If you're financing a car, the lender may also have requirements. Most auto policies are for six months to a year.
In the United States, the insurance company should notify you by mail when it’s time to renew the policy and to pay the premium.
5. Types of insurance
Any risk that can be quantified can potentially be insured. Specific kinds of risk that may give rise to claims are known as "perils". An insurance policy will set out in detail which perils are covered by the policy and which are not. Below are (non-exhaustive) lists of the many different types of insurance that exist. A single policy may cover risks in one or more of the categories set out below. For example, auto insurance would typically cover both property risk (covering the risk of theft or damage to the car) and liability risk (covering legal claims from causing an accident). A homeowner's insurance policy in the U.S. typically includes property insurance covering damage to the home and the owner's belongings, liability
insurance covering certain legal claims against the owner, and even a small amount of coverage for medical expenses of guests who are injured on the owner's property.
Business insurance can be any kind of insurance that protects businesses against risks. Some principal subtypes of business insurance are (a) the various kinds of professional liability insurance, also called professional indemnity insurance, which are discussed below under that name; and (b) the business owner's policy (BOP), which bundles into one policy many of the kinds of coverage that a business owner needs, in a way analogous to how homeowners insurance bundles the coverages that a homeowner needs.
5.1. Auto insurance
5.2. Home insurance
5.3. Health insurance
5.4. Accident, sickness and unemployment insurance
5.5. Casualty insurance
5.6. Life insurance
5.7. Property insurance
5.8. Liability insurance
5.9. Credit insurance
5.10. Other types of insurance
5.11. Insurance financing vehicles
5.12. Closed community self-insurance
4. History of insurance
In some sense we can say that insurance appears simultaneously with the appearance of human society. We know of two types of economies in human societies: money economies (with markets, money, financial instruments and so on) and non-money or natural economies (without money, markets, financial instruments and so on). The second type is a more ancient form than the first. In such an economy and community, we can see insurance in the form of people helping each other. For example, if a house burns down, the members of the community help build a new one. Should the same thing happen to one's neighbour, the other neighbors must help. Otherwise, neighbours will not receive help in the future. This type of insurance has survived to the present day in some countries where modern money economy with its financial instruments is not widespread.
Turning to insurance in the modern sense (i.e., insurance in a modern money economy, in which insurance is part of the financial sphere), early methods of transferring or distributing risk were practiced by Chinese and Babylonian traders as long ago as the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC, respectively. Chinese merchants traveling treacherous river rapids would redistribute their wares across many vessels to limit the loss due to any single vessel's capsizing. The Babylonians developed a system which was recorded in the famous Code of Hammurabi, c. 1750 BC, and practised by early Mediterranean sailing merchants. If a merchant received a loan to fund his shipment, he would pay the lender an additional sum in exchange for the lender's guarantee to cancel the loan should the shipment be stolen or lost at sea.
Achaemenian monarchs of Ancient Persia were the first to insure their people and made it official by registering the insuring process in governmental notary offices. The insurance tradition was performed each year in Norouz (beginning of the Iranian New Year); the heads of different ethnic groups as well as others willing to take part, resented gifts to the monarch. The most important gift was presented during a special ceremony. When a gift was worth more than 10,000 Derrik (Achaemenian gold coin) the issue was registered in a special office. This was advantageous to those who presented such special gifts. For others, the presents were fairly assessed by the confidants of the court. Then the assessment was registered in special offices.
The purpose of registering was that whenever the person who presented the gift registered by the court was in trouble, the monarch and the court would help him. Jahez, a historian and writer, writes in one of his books on ancient Iran:
"Whenever the owner of the present is in trouble or wants to construct a building, set up a feast, have his children married, etc. the one in charge of this in the court would check the registration. If the registered amount exceeded 10,000 Derrik, he or she would receive an amount of twice as much."
A thousand years later, the inhabitants of Rhodes invented the concept of the 'general average'. Merchants whose goods were being shipped together would pay a proportionally divided premium which would be used to reimburse any merchant whose goods were jettisoned during storm or sinkage.
The Greeks and Romans introduced the origins of health and life insurance c. 600 AD when they organized guilds called "benevolent societies" which cared for the families and paid funeral expenses of members upon death. Guilds in the Middle Ages served a similar purpose.
The Talmud deals with several aspects of insuring goods.Before insurance was established in the late 17th century, "friendly societies" existed in England, in which people donated amounts of money to a general sum that could be used for emergencies.
Separate insurance contracts (i.e., insurance policies not bundled with loans or other kinds of contracts) were invented in Genoa in the 14th century, as were insurance pools backed by pledges of landed estates. These new insurance contracts allowed insurance to be separated from investment, a separation of roles that first proved useful in marine insurance. Insurance became far more sophisticated in post-Renaissance Europe, and specialized varieties developed.
Some forms of insurance had developed in London by the early decades of the seventeenth century. For example, the will of the English colonist Robert Hayman mentions two "policies of insurance" taken out with the diocesan Chancellor of London, Arthur Duck. Of the value of £100 each, one relates to the safe arrival of Hayman's ship in Guyana and the other is in regard to "one hundred pounds assured by the said Doctor Arthur Ducke on my life". Hayman's will was signed and sealed on 17 November 1628 but not proved until 1633. Toward the end of the seventeenth century, London's growing importance as a centre for trade increased demand for marine insurance. In the late 1680s, Edward Lloyd opened a coffee house that became a popular haunt of ship owners, merchants, and ships’ captains, and thereby a reliable source of the latest shipping news. It became the meeting place for parties wishing to insure cargoes and ships, and those willing to underwrite such ventures. Today, Lloyd's of London remains the leading market (note that it is not an insurance company) for marine and other specialist types of insurance, but it works rather differently than the more familiar kinds of insurance.
Insurance as we know it today can be traced to the Great Fire of London, which in 1666 devoured more than 13,000 houses. The devastating effects of the fire converted the development of insurance "from a matter of convenience into one of urgency, a change of opinion reflected in Sir Christopher Wren's inclusion of a site for 'the Insurance Office' in his new plan for London in 1667." A number of attempted fire insurance schemes came to nothing, but in 1681 Nicholas Barbon, and eleven associates, established England's first fire insurance company, the 'Insurance Office for Houses', at the back of the Royal Exchange. Initially, 5,000 homes were insured by Barbon's Insurance Office.
The first insurance company in the United States underwrote fire insurance and was formed in Charles Town (modern-day Charleston), South Carolina, in 1732. Benjamin Franklin helped to popularize and make standard the practice of insurance, particularly against fire in the form of perpetual insurance. In 1752, he founded the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire. Franklin's company was the first to make contributions toward fire prevention. Not only did his company warn against certain fire hazards, it refused to insure certain buildings where the risk of fire was too great, such as all wooden houses. In the United States, regulation of the insurance industry is highly Balkanized, with primary responsibility assumed by individual state insurance departments. Whereas insurance markets have become centralized nationally and internationally, state insurance commissioners operate individually, though at times in concert through a national insurance commissioners' organization. In recent years, some have called for a dual state and federal regulatory system (commonly referred to as the Optional federal charter (OFC)) for insurance similar to that which oversees state banks and national banks.
3.2. Insurance claims
Claims and loss handling is the materialized utility of insurance; it is the actual "product" paid for, though one hopes it will never need to be used. Claims may be filed by insureds directly with the insurer or through brokers or agents. The insurer may require that the claim be filed on its own proprietary forms, or may accept claims on a standard industry form such as those produced by ACORD.
Insurance company claims departments employ a large number of claims adjusters supported by a staff of records management and data entry clerks. Incoming claims are classified based on severity and are assigned to adjusters whose settlement authority varies with their knowledge and experience. The adjuster undertakes a thorough investigation of each claim, usually in close cooperation with the insured, determines if coverage is available under the terms of the insurance contract, and if so, the reasonable monetary value of the claim, and authorizes payment.
Adjusting liability insurance claims is particularly difficult because there is a third party involved, the plaintiff, who is under no contractual obligation to cooperate with the insurer and may in fact regard the insurer as a deep pocket.
The adjuster must obtain legal counsel for the insured (either inside "house" counsel or outside "panel" counsel), monitor litigation that may take years to complete, and appear in person or over the telephone with settlement authority at a mandatory settlement conference when requested by the judge.
If a claims adjuster suspects underinsurance, the condition of average may come into play to limit the insurance company's exposure.
In managing the claims handling function, insurers seek to balance the elements of customer satisfaction, administrative handling expenses, and claims overpayment leakages. As part of this balancing act, fraudulent insurance practices are a major business risk that must be managed and overcome. Disputes between insurers and insureds over the validity of claims or claims handling practices occasionally escalate into litigation (insurance bad faith).
3.1. Underwriting and investing
The business model can be reduced to a simple equation:
Profit = earned premium + investment income - incurred loss - underwriting expenses.
Insurers make money in two ways:
- Through underwriting, the process by which insurers select the risks to insure and decide how much in premiums to charge for accepting those risks;
- By investing the premiums they collect from insured parties.
The most complicated aspect of the insurance business is the underwriting of policies. Using a wide assortment of data, insurers predict the likelihood that a claim will be made against their policies and price products accordingly. To this end, insurers use actuarial science to quantify the risks they are willing to assume and the premium they will charge to assume them. Data is analyzed to fairly accurately project the rate of future claims based on a given risk. Actuarial science uses statistics and probability to analyze the risks associated with the range of perils covered, and these scientific principles are used to determine an insurer's overall exposure. Upon termination of a given policy, the amount of premium collected and the investment gains thereon minus the amount paid out in claims is the insurer's underwriting profit on that policy. Of course, from the insurer's perspective, some policies are "winners" (i.e., the insurer pays out less in claims and expenses than it receives in premiums and investment income) and some are "losers" (i.e., the insurer pays out more in claims and expenses than it receives in premiums and investment income); insurance companies essentially use actuarial science to attempt to underwrite enough "winning" policies to pay out on the "losers" while still maintaining profitability.
An insurer's underwriting performance is measured in its combined ratio which is the ratio of losses and expenses to earned premiums. A combined ratio of less than 100 percent indicates underwriting profitability, while anything over 100 indicates an underwriting loss. A company with a combined ratio over 100% may nevertheless remain profitable due to investment earnings.
Insurance companies earn investment profits on “float”. “Float” or available reserve is the amount of money, at hand at any given moment, that an insurer has collected in insurance premiums but has not paid out in claims. Insurers start investing insurance premiums as soon as they are collected and continue to earn interest or other income on them until claims are paid out. The Association of British Insurers (gathering 400 insurance companies and 94% of UK insurance services) has almost 20% of the investments in the London Stock Exchange.
In the United States, the underwriting loss of property and casualty insurance companies was $142.3 billion in the five years ending 2003. But overall profit for the same period was $68.4 billion, as the result of float.
Some insurance industry insiders, most notably Hank Greenberg, do not believe that it is forever possible to sustain a profit from float without an underwriting profit as well, but this opinion is not universally held.
Naturally, the “float” method is difficult to carry out in an economically depressed period. Bear markets do cause insurers to shift away from investments and to toughen up their underwriting standards. So a poor economy generally means high insurance premiums. This tendency to swing between profitable and unprofitable periods over time is commonly known as the "underwriting" or insurance cycle.
Property and casualty insurers currently make the most money from their auto insurance line of business. Generally better statistics are available on auto losses and underwriting on this line of business has benefited greatly from advances in computing. Additionally, property losses in the United States, due to unpredictable natural catastrophes, have exacerbated this trend.
3. Insurers' business model
3.1 Underwriting and investing
The business model can be reduced to a simple equation:
Profit = earned premium + investment income - incurred loss - underwriting expenses
Claims and loss handling is the materialized utility of insurance; it is the actual "product" paid for, though one hopes it will never need to be used.
2. Effects of insurance
Insurance can have various effects on society through the way that it changes who bears the cost of losses and damage. It can increase fraud. On the other hand, it can help societies and individuals prepare for catastrophes and mitigate the effects of catastrophes on both households and societies.
Insurance can influence the probability of losses through moral hazard, insurance fraud, and preventive steps by the insurance company. Insurance scholars have typically used morale hazard to refer to the increased loss due to unintentional carelessness and moral hazard to refer to increased risk due to intentional carelessness or indifference. Insurers attempt to address carelessness through inspections, policy provisions requiring certain types of maintenance, and possible discounts for loss mitigation efforts. While in theory insurers could encourage investment in loss reduction, some commentators have argued that in practice insurers had historically not aggressively pursued loss control measures - particularly to prevent disaster losses such as hurricanes - because of concerns over rate reductions and legal battles. However, beginning around 1996 insurers began to take a more active role in loss mitigation through building codes.
To "indemnify" means to make whole again, or to be put in the position that one was in, to the extent possible, prior to the happening of a specified event or peril. Accordingly, life insurance is generally not considered to be indemnity insurance, but rather "contingent" insurance (i.e., a claim arises on the occurrence of a specified event). There are generally two types of insurance contracts that seek to indemnify an insured:
- an "indemnity" policy and
- a "pay on behalf" or "on behalf of"policy.
The difference is significant on paper, but rarely material in practice.
An "indemnity" policy will never pay claims until the insured has paid out of pocket to some third party; for example, a visitor to the home slips on a floor that you left wet and sues you for $10,000 and wins. Under an "indemnity" policy the homeowner would have to come up with the $10,000 to pay for the visitor's fall and then would be "indemnified" by the insurance carrier for the out of pocket costs (the $10,000).
Under the same situation, a "pay on behalf" policy, the insurance carrier would pay the claim and the insured (the homeowner) would not be out of pocket for anything. Most modern liability insurance is written on the basis of "pay on behalf" language.
An entity seeking to transfer risk (an individual, corporation, or association of any type, etc.) becomes the 'insured' party once risk is assumed by an 'insurer', the insuring party, by means of a contract, called an insurance 'policy'. Generally, an insurance contract includes, at a minimum, the following elements: the parties (the insurer, the insured, the beneficiaries), the premium, the period of coverage, the particular loss event covered, the amount of coverage (i.e., the amount to be paid to the insured or beneficiary in the event of a loss), and exclusions (events not covered). An insured is thus said to be "indemnified" against the loss covered in the policy.
When insured parties experience a loss for a specified peril, the coverage entitles the policyholder to make a 'claim' against the insurer for the covered amount of loss as specified by the policy. The fee paid by the insured to the insurer for assuming the risk is called the 'premium'. Insurance premiums from many insureds are used to fund accounts reserved for later payment of claims - in theory for a relatively few claimants - and for overhead
costs. So long as an insurer maintains adequate funds set aside for anticipated losses (i.e., reserves), the remaining margin is an insurer's profit.
When a company insures an individual entity, there are basic legal requirements. Several commonly cited legal principles of insurance include:
- Indemnity – the insurance company indemnifies, or compensates the insured in the case of certain losses only up to the insured's interest
- Insurable interest – the insured typically must directly suffer from the loss
- Utmost good faith – the insured and the insurer are bound by a good faith bond of honesty and fairness
- Contribution – insurers which have similar obligations to the insured contribute in the indemnification, according to some method
- Subrogation – the insurance company acquires legal rights to pursue recoveries on behalf of the insured; for example, the insurer may sue those liable for insured's loss
- Causa Proxima or Proximate Cause – the cause of loss (the "peril") must be covered under the insuring agreement of the policy, and dominant cause must not be excluded
Risk which can be insured by private companies typically share seven common characteristics.
- Large number of similar exposure units. Since insurance operates through pooling resources, the majority of insurance policies are provided for individual members of large classes, allowing insurers to benefit from the law of large numbers in which predicted losses are similar to the actual losses. Exceptions include Lloyd's of London, which is famous for insuring the life or health of actors, actresses and sports figures. However, all exposures will have particular differences, which may lead to different rates.
- Definite Loss. The loss takes place at a known time, in a known place, and from a known cause. The classic example is death of an insured person on a life insurance policy. Fire, automobile accidents, and worker injuries may all easily meet this criterion. Other types of losses may only be definite in theory. Occupational disease, for instance, may involve prolonged exposure to injurious conditions where no specific time, place or cause is identifiable. Ideally, the time, place and cause of a loss should be clear enough that a reasonable person, with sufficient information, could objectively verify all three elements.
- Accidental Loss. The event that constitutes the trigger of a claim should be fortuitous, or at least outside the control of the beneficiary of the insurance. The loss should be ‘pure,’ in the sense that it results from an event for which there is only the opportunity for cost. Events that contain speculative elements, such as ordinary business risks, are generally not considered insurable.
- Large Loss. The size of the loss must be meaningful from the perspective of the insured. Insurance premiums need to cover both the expected cost of losses, plus the cost of issuing and administering the policy, adjusting losses, and supplying the capital needed to reasonably assure that the insurer will be able to pay claims. For small losses these latter costs may be several times the size of the expected cost of losses. There is little point in paying such costs unless the protection offered has real value to a buyer.
- Affordable Premium. If the likelihood of an insured event is so high, or the cost of the event so large, that the resulting premium is large relative to the amount of protection offered, it is not likely that anyone will buy insurance, even if on offer. Further, as the accounting profession formally recognizes in financial accounting standards, the premium cannot be so large that there is not a reasonable chance of a significant loss to the insurer. If there is no such chance of loss, the transaction may have the form of insurance, but not the substance. (See the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board standard number 113)
- Calculable Loss. There are two elements that must be at least estimable, if not formally calculable: the probability of loss, and the attendant cost. Probability of loss is generally an empirical exercise, while cost has more to do with the ability of a reasonable person in possession of a copy of the insurance policy and a proof of loss associated with a claim presented under that policy to make a reasonably definite and objective evaluation of the amount of the loss recoverable as a result of the claim.
- Limited risk of catastrophically large losses. Insurable losses are ideally independent and non-catastrophic, meaning that the one losses do not happen all at once and individual losses are not severe enough to bankrupt the insurer; insurers may prefer to limit their exposure to a loss from a single event to some small portion of their capital base, on the order of 5 percent. Capital constrains insurers' ability to sell earthquake insurance as well as wind insurance in hurricane zones. In the U.S., flood risk is insured by the federal government. In commercial fire insurance it is possible to find single properties whose total exposed value is well in excess of any individual insurer’s capital constraint. Such properties are generally shared among several insurers, or are insured by a single insurer who syndicates the risk into the reinsurance market.
1. Principles of insurance
Insurance involves pooling funds from many insured entities (known as exposures) in order to pay for relatively uncommon but severely devastating losses which can occur to these entities. The insured entities are therefore protected from risk for a fee, with the fee being dependent upon the frequency and severity of the event occurring. In order to be insurable, the risk insured against must meet certain characteristics in order to be an insurable risk. Insurance is a commercial enterprise and a major part of the financial services industry, but individual entities can also self-insure through saving money for possible future losses.
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In economics, rent seeking occurs when an individual, organization or firm seeks to earn income by capturing economic rent through manipulation or exploitation of the economic or political environment, rather than by earning profits through economic transactions and the production of added wealth.
Most studies of rent seeking focus on efforts to capture special monopoly privileges, such as government regulation of free enterprise competition, though the term itself is derived from the far older and more established practice of appropriating a portion of production by gaining ownership or control of land.
Description of concept
Rent seeking generally implies the extraction of uncompensated value from others without making any contribution to productivity, such as by gaining control of land and other pre-existing natural resources, or by imposing burdensome regulations or other government decisions that may affect consumers or businesses.
While there may be few people in modern industrialized countries who do not gain something, directly or indirectly, through some form or another of rent seeking, rent seeking in the aggregate can impose substantial losses on society.
Studies of rent seeking focus on efforts to capture special monopoly privileges such as government regulation of free enterprise competition.
The term "monopoly privilege rent seeking" is an often-used label for the former type of rent seeking. Often-cited examples include a farm lobby that seeks tariff protection or an entertainment lobby that seeks expansion of the scope of copyright. Other rent seeking is held to be associated with efforts to cause a redistribution of wealth by, for example, shifting the government tax burden or government spending allocation.
Development of theory
The phenomenon of rent seeking was first formally identified in connection with monopolies by Gordon Tullock, in a 1967 paper. The phrase rent seeking itself, however, was coined in 1974 by Anne Krueger in another influential paper. The word "rent" in this sense is not directly equivalent to its usual use meaning a payment on a lease, but rather stems from Adam Smith's division of incomes into profit, wage, and rent. Rent-seeking behavior is distinguished in theory from profit-seeking behavior, in which entities seek to extract value by engaging in mutually beneficial transactions. Critics of the concept point out that in practice, there may be difficulties distinguishing between beneficial profit seeking and detrimental rent seeking. Often a further distinction is drawn between rents obtained legally through political power and the proceeds of private common-law crimes such as fraud, embezzlement and theft. This viewpoint sees "profit" as obtained consensually, through a mutually agreeable transaction between two entities (buyer and seller), and the proceeds of common-law crime non-consensually, by force or fraud inflicted on one party by another.
Rent, by contrast with these two, is obtained when a third party deprives one party of access to otherwise accessible transaction opportunities, making nominally "consensual" transactions a rent-collection opportunity for the third party.
The abnormal profits of the illegal drug trade are considered rents by this definition, as they are neither legal profits nor the proceeds of common-law crimes. Taxi medallions are another commonly referenced example of rent seeking. To the extent that the issuing of medallions constrains overall supply of taxi services (rather than ensuring competence or quality), forbidding competition by non-medallion taxis makes the otherwise consensual transaction of taxi service a forced transfer of wealth from the passenger to the medallion holder.
Rent seeking is held to occur often in the form of lobbying for economic regulations such as tariffs. Regulatory capture is a related concept which refers to collusion between firms and the government agencies assigned to regulate them, which is seen as enabling extensive rent-seeking behavior, especially when the government agency must rely on the firms for knowledge about the market.
The concept of rent seeking has been applied to corruption by bureaucrats who solicit and extract ‘bribe’ or ‘rent’ for applying their legal but discretionary authority for awarding legitimate or illegitimate benefits to clients. For example, tax officials may take bribes for lessening the tax burden of the tax payers. Faizul Latif Chowdhury sested that ‘bribery’ is a kind of rent-seeking by the government officials.
From a theoretical standpoint, the moral hazard of rent seeking can be considerable. If "buying" a favorable regulatory environment is cheaper than building more efficient production, a firm may choose the former option, reaping incomes entirely unrelated to any contribution to total wealth or well-being. This results in a sub-optimal allocation of resources — money spent on lobbyists and counter-lobbyists rather than on research and development, improved business practices, employee training, or additional capital goods — which retards economic growth. Claims that a firm is rent-seeking therefore often accompany allegations of government corruption, or the undue influence of special interests.
Rent seeking may be initiated by government agents, such agents soliciting bribes or other favors from the individuals or firms that stand to gain from having special economic privileges, which opens up the possibility of exploitation of the consumer. It has been shown that rent-seeking by bureaucracy can push up the cost of production of public goods . It has also been shown that rent-seeking by tax officials may cause loss in revenue to the public exchequer.
Rent-seeking behavior, in terms of land rent, figures in Georgist economic theory, where the value of land is largely attributed to provision of government services and infrastructure (e.g., road building, provision of public schools, maintenance of peace and order, etc.) and the community in general, rather than resulting from any action or contribution by the landowner.
Insurance, in law and economics, is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss. Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for payment. An insurer is a company selling the insurance; an insured or policyholder is the person or entity buying the insurance policy. The insurance rate is a factor used to determine the amount to be charged for a certain amount of insurance coverage, called the premium. Risk management, the practice of appraising and controlling risk, has evolved as a discrete field of study and practice.
The transaction involves the insured assuming a guaranteed and known relatively small loss in the form of payment to the insurer in exchange for the insurer's promise to compensate (indemnify) the insured in the case of a large, possibly devastating loss. The insured receives a contract called the insurance policy which details the conditions and circumstances under which the insured will be compensated.
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