The Basic Principles of Life Insurance (Part II)
Life entails risk, which is the possibility of loss. People generally seek security and avoid uncertainty. The risk of death is unavoidable, and is especially an economic threat if premature, when an individual may be exposed to heavy financial responsibilities, yet has not had the time to accumulate wealth to offset the financial needs of survivors. Life insurance provides a tool for risk management, a process for dealing with the risk of loss of life.
Risk Management & Indemnity
Risk Management. Insurance substitutes certainty for uncertainty through the pooling of groups of people who share the risks to which they are exposed. Uncertain risks of individuals are combined, making the possible loss more certain, and providing a financial solution to the problems created by the loss. Small, certain periodic contributions (premiums) by the individuals in the group provide a fund from which those who suffer a loss are compensated. The certainty of losing the premium replaces the uncertainty of a larger loss. Life insurance thus manages the uncertainty of one party through the transfer of a particular risk (death) to another party (the insurer) who offers a restoration, at least in part, of relatively large economic losses suffered by the insured individual.
Indemnity. The essence of insurance is the principle of indemnity, that the person who suffers a financial loss is placed in the same financial position after the loss as before the loss occurred. He neither profits nor is disadvantaged by the loss. In practice, this is much more difficult to achieve in life insurance than in property insurance. No life insurance company would provide insurance in an amount clearly exceeding the estimated economic value of the covered life. Limiting the amount of life insurance sold to reflect economic value gives recognition to the rule of indemnity. Additionally, only persons exposed to the potential loss i.e. with insurable interest, may legitimately own the insurance covering the insured’s life.