The insurance has the following characteristics which are, generally, observed in case of life, marine, fire and general insurances.
1. Sharing of Risk:
Insurance is a device to share the financial losses which might befall on an individual or his family on the happening of a specified event. The event may be death of a bread-winner to the family in the case of life insurance, marine-perils in marine insurance, fire in fire insurance and other certain events in general insurance, e.g., theft in burglary insurance, accident in motor insurance, etc. The loss arising nom these events if insured are shared by all the insured in the form of premium.
2. Co-operative Device:
The most important feature of every insurance plan is the co-operation of large number of persons who, in effect, agree to share the financial loss arising due to a particular risk which is insured. Such a group of persons may be brought together voluntarily or through publicity or through solicitation of the agents.
An insurer would be unable to compensate all the losses from his own capital. So, by insuring or underwriting a large number of persons, he is able to pay the amount of loss. Like all cooperative devices, there is no compulsion here on anybody to purchase the insurance policy.
3. Value of Risk:
The risk is evaluated before insuring to charge the amount of share of an insured, herein called, consideration or premium. There are several methods of evaluation of risks. If there is expectation of more loss, higher premium may be charged. So, the probability of loss is calculated at the time of insurance.
4. Payment at Contingency:
The payment is made at a certain contingency insured. If the contingency occurs, payment is made. Since the life insurance contract is a contract of certainty, because the contingency, the death or the expiry of term, will certainly occur, the payment is certain. In other insurance contracts, the contingency is the fire or the marine perils etc., may or may not occur. So, if the contingency occurs, payment is made, otherwise no amount is given to the policy-holder.
Similarly, in certain types of life policies, payment is not certain due to uncertainty of a particular contingency within a particular period. For example, in term-insurance then, payment is made only when death of the assured occurs within the specified term, may be one or two years. Similarly, in Pure Endowment payment is made only at the survival of the insured at the expiry of the period.
5. Amount of Payment:
The amount of payment depends upon the value of loss occurred due to the particular insured risk provided insurance is there up to that amount. In life insurance, the purpose is not to make good the financial loss suffered. The insurer promises to pay a fixed sum on the happening of an event.
If the event or the contingency takes place, the payment does fall due if the policy is valid and in force at the time of the event, like property insurance, the dependents will not be required to prove the occurring of loss and the amount of loss. It is immaterial in life insurance what was the amount of loss at the time of contingency. But in the property and general insurances, the amount of loss as well as the happening of loss, are required to be proved.
6. Large Number of Insured Persons
To spread the loss immediately, smoothly and cheaply, large number of persons should be insured. The co-operation of a small number of persons may also be insurance but it will be limited to smaller area. The cost of insurance to each member may be higher. So, it may be unmarketable.
Therefore, to make the insurance cheaper, it is essential to insure large number of persons or property because the lesser would be cost of insurance and so, the lower would be premium. In past years, tariff associations or mutual fire insurance associations were found to share the loss at cheaper rate. In order to function successfully, the insurance should be joined by a large number of persons.
7. Insurance is not a gambling:
The insurance serves indirectly to increase the productivity of the community by eliminating worry and increasing initiative. The uncertainty is changed into certainty by insuring property and life because the insurer promises to pay a definite sum at damage or death.
From a family and business point of view all lives possess an economic value which may at any time be snuffed out by death, and it is as reasonable to ensure against the loss of this value as it is to protect oneself against the loss of property. In the absence of insurance, the property owners could at best practice only some form of self-insurance, which may not give him absolute certainty.
Similarly, in absence of life insurance, saving requires time; but death may occur at any time and the property, and family may remain unprotected. Thus, the family is protected against losses on death and damage with the help of insurance.
From the company’s point of view, the life insurance is essentially non-speculative; in fact, no other business operates with greater certainties. From the insured point of view, too, insurance is also the antithesis of gambling. Nothing is more uncertain than life and life insurance offers the only sure method of changing that uncertainty into certainty.
Failure of insurance amounts gambling because the uncertainty of loss is always looming. In fact, the insurance is just the opposite of gambling. In gambling, by bidding the person exposes himself to risk of losing, in the insurance; the insured is always opposed to risk, and will suffer loss if he is not insured.
By getting insured his life and property, he protects himself against the risk of loss. In fact, if he does not get his property or life insured he is gambling with his life on property.
8. Insurance is not Charity:
Charity is given without consideration but insurance is not possible without premium. It provides security and safety to an individual and to the society although it is a kind of business because in consideration of premium it guarantees the payment of loss. It is a profession because it provides adequate sources at the time of disasters only by charging a nominal premium for the service.