Most people have some kind of insurance: for their car, their house, or even their life. Yet most of us don’t stop to think too much about what insurance is or how it works.
What Is Insurance?
The literal meaning of insurance would be an assurance against unforeseen and unfortunate loss. This means, that if you encounter a less than normal event in your normal course of life, and happen to incur a financial loss because of it, you can be compensated.
For example, you met with an accident on your way to the office in your car and the car suffers damage. Your insurer can reimburse the repair expenses in this case. However, the insurer will not reimburse normal wear and tear like a headlamp stopped working.
Legally insurance has been defined as a contract where the insurer agrees to compensate the insured against the losses incurred due to any unforeseen contingency. The contract also involves a consideration which is called a premium. The maximum available benefit amount is called sum assured or sum insured.
How Insurance Works
A multitude of different types of insurance policies is available, and virtually any individual or business can find an insurance company willing to insure them—for a price. The most common types of personal insurance policies are auto, health, homeowners, and life. Most individuals in the United States have at least one of these types of insurance, and car insurance is required by law.
Businesses require special types of insurance policies that insure against specific types of risks faced by a particular business. For example, a fast-food restaurant needs a policy that covers damage or injury that occurs as a result of cooking with a deep fryer. An auto dealer is not subject to this type of risk but does require coverage for damage or injury that could occur during test drives.
There are also insurance policies available for very specific needs, such as kidnap and ransom (K&R), medical malpractice, and professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance.
Insurance Policy Components
When choosing a policy, it is important to understand how insurance works.
A firm understanding of these concepts goes a long way in helping you choose the policy that best suits your needs. For instance, whole life insurance may or may not be the right type of life insurance for you. Three components of any type of insurance are crucial: premium, policy limit, and deductible.
A policy’s premium is its price, typically expressed as a monthly cost. The premium is determined by the insurer based on your or your business’s risk profile, which may include creditworthiness.
For example, if you own several expensive automobiles and have a history of reckless driving, you will likely pay more for an auto policy than someone with a single midrange sedan and a perfect driving record. However, different insurers may charge different premiums for similar policies. So finding the price that is right for you requires some legwork.
The policy limit is the maximum amount that an insurer will pay under a policy for a covered loss. Maximums may be set per period (e.g., annual or policy term), per loss or injury, or over the life of the policy, also known as the lifetime maximum.
Typically, higher limits carry higher premiums. For a general life insurance policy, the maximum amount that the insurer will pay is referred to as the face value, which is the amount paid to a beneficiary upon the death of the insured.
The deductible is a specific amount that the policyholder must pay out of pocket before the insurer pays a claim. Deductibles serve as deterrents to large volumes of small and insignificant claims.
Deductibles can apply per policy or per claim, depending on the insurer and the type of policy. Policies with very high deductibles are typically less expensive because the high out-of-pocket expense generally results in fewer small claims.
Types of Insurance
There are many different types of insurance. Let’s look at the most important.
With regard to health insurance, people who have chronic health issues or need regular medical attention should look for policies with lower deductibles. Though the annual premium is higher than a comparable policy with a higher deductible, less expensive access to medical care throughout the year may be worth the tradeoff.
Homeowners insurance (also known as home insurance) protects your home and possessions against damage or theft. Virtually all mortgage companies require borrowers to have insurance coverage for the full or fair value of a property (usually the purchase price) and won’t make a loan or finance a residential real estate transaction without proof of it.
When you buy or lease a car, it’s important to protect that investment. Getting auto insurance can offer reassurance in case you’re involved in an accident or the vehicle is stolen, vandalized, or damaged by a natural disaster. Instead of paying out of pocket for auto accidents, people pay annual premiums to an auto insurance company; the company then pays all or most of the costs associated with an auto accident or other vehicle damage.
Life insurance is a contract between an insurer and a policy owner. A life insurance policy guarantees that the insurer pays a sum of money to named beneficiaries when the insured dies in exchange for the premiums paid by the policyholder during their lifetime.
Travel insurance is a type of insurance that covers the costs and losses associated with traveling. It is useful protection for those traveling domestically or abroad. According to a 2021 survey by insurance company Battleface, almost half of Americans have faced fees or had to absorb the cost of losses when traveling without travel insurance.
Benefits of Insurance
There are a lot of benefits of buying insurance and listed below are some of them:
Financial Safety for Family:
They provide cover against life’s uncertainties and protect you against losses arising from different unexpected events in life.
Safety of Financial Status:
Certain events like medical emergencies can have a significant impact on your cash flow management. Insurance ensures you don’t have to pay out of pocket for such situations.
Wealth Creation Goals:
Insurance policies like ULIPs give you investment opportunities and help you fulfil your essential financial goals.
Life insurance policies like endowment and moneyback plans are some of the safest long-term investments possible. These plans help you preserve your wealth from inflation and taxes for long periods.
Few investment plans offer the kind of safety offered by life insurance pension plans. After retiring at the age of 60, you can live up to 100. Only life insurance pension plans can guarantee a regular income for that period.