Insurance

Resources for Improving Insurance Operations

  • What is Insurance?

    Insurance is a means to manage a contingent loss through which responsibility for a risk is transferred to another party in exchange for payment before the loss. The cost of insurance is based upon the insurance company’s pooling of similar risks, occurrences that can be estimated using statistical modeling. An insurance company earns money from premiums and the investment of premiums. Insurance can be purchased by individuals for life, health, property and liability losses. Corporations purchase insurance to cover liability, property, business and executive health and life risks. Insurance can be purchased directly from a company, through “captive” agents working for one firm or through independent agents.
  • The History of Insurance

    Various forms of insurance have been used since the earliest times. The Code of Hammurabi, c. 1750 B.C., records a form used by merchants around the Mediterranean. They contracted with a lender to pay for a shipment and paid an extra amount to cancel the loan should the shipment be lost or stolen. In ancient Persia people who gave gifts to the monarch could receive help from the monarch when they were in trouble. As London became a center of trade in the seventeenth century, marine insurance grew in importance. A coffee house owned by Edward Lloyd became a gathering place for merchants and ship owners, and there they also made connections for insurance purposes.
  • Modern Trends in Insurance

    Although natural disasters have been much in the news, in 2010 insured catastrophe losses in the United States totaled $13.6 billion, much lower than the 2000 to 2009 average loss of $25.8 billion (in 2010 dollars). Terrorism is a new consideration. In 2003 the proportion of businesses buying terrorism coverage was 27 percent, growing to 61 percent in 2009. Until Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when insurers paid claims totaling more than $40 billion, 9/11 was the largest loss in the global history of insurance. The industry weathered the financial crisis that began in 2008, but companies began to improve their Enterprise Risk Management strategies. Most notably, AIG suffered a liquidity crisis that caused the federal government to step in to help it meet its obligations.

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