What are the Primary and Secondary Functions of insurance?


What are the primary and Secondary Functions of insurance?

Insurance is defined as a co-operative device to spread the loss caused by a particular risk over a number of persons who are exposed to it and who agree to ensure themselves against that risk. Risk is uncertainty of a financial loss. It should not be confused with the chance of loss which is the probable number of losses out of a given number of exposures.

It should not be confused with peril which is defined as the cause of loss or with hazard which is a condition that may increase the chance of loss.


Finally, risk must not be confused with loss itself which is the unintentional decline in or disappearance of value arising from a contingency. Wherever there is uncertainty with respect to a probable loss there is risk.

Every risk involves the loss of one or other kind. The function of insurance is to spread the loss over a large number of persons who are agreed to co-operate each other at the time of loss. The risk cannot be averted but loss occurring due to a certain risk can be distributed amongst the agreed persons. They are agreed to share the loss because the chances of loss, i.e., the time, amount, to a person are not known.

Anybody of them may suffer loss to a given risk, so, the rest of the persons who are agreed will share the loss. The larger the number of such persons the easier the process of distribution of loss, In fact; the loss is shared by them by payment of premium which is calculated on the probability of loss.

In olden time, the contribution by the persons was made at the time of loss. The insurance is also defined as a social device to accumulate funds to meet the uncertain losses arising through a certain risk to a person insured against the risk.


The functions of insurance can be studied into two parts (i) Primary Functions, and (ii) Secondary Functions.

Primary Functions:

(i) Insurance provides certainty:

Insurance provides certainty of payment at the uncertainty of loss. The uncertainty of loss can be reduced by better planning and administration. But, the insurance relieves the person from such difficult task. Moreover, if the subject matters are not adequate, the self-provision may prove costlier.


There are different types of uncertainty in a risk. The risk will occur or not, when will occur, how much loss will be there? In other words, there are uncertainty of happening of time and amount of loss. Insurance removes all these uncertainty and the assured is given certainty of payment of loss. The insurer charges premium for providing the said certainty.

(ii) Insurance provides protection:

The main function of the insurance is to provide protection against the probable chances of loss. The time and amount of loss are uncertain and at the happening of risk, the person will suffer loss in absence of insurance. The insurance guarantees the payment of loss and thus protects the assured from sufferings. The insurance cannot check the happening of risk but can provide for losses at the happening of the risk.

(iii) Risk-Sharing:


The risk is uncertain, and therefore, the loss arising from the risk is also uncertain. When risk takes place, the loss is shared by all the persons who are exposed to the risk. The risk-sharing in ancient time was done only at time of damage or death; but today, on the basis of probability of risk, the share is obtained from each and every insured in the shape of premium without which protection is not guaranteed by the insurer.

Secondary functions:

Besides the above primary functions, the insurance works for the following functions:

(i) Prevention of Loss:


The insurance joins hands with those institutions which are engaged in preventing the losses of the society because the reduction in loss causes lesser payment to the assured and so more saving is possible which will assist in reducing the premium. Lesser premium invites more business and more business cause lesser share to the assured.

So again premium is reduced to, which will stimulate more business and more protection to the masses. Therefore, the insurance assist financially to the health organisation, fire brigade, educational institutions and other organisations which are engaged in preventing the losses of the masses from death or damage.

(ii) It Provides Capital:

The insurance provides capital to the society. The accumulated funds are invested in productive channel. The dearth of capital of the society is minimised to a greater extent with the help of investment of insurance. The industry, the business and the individual are benefited by the investment and loans of the insurers.

(iii) It Improves Efficiency:

The insurance eliminates worries and miseries of losses at death and destruction of property. The carefree person can devote his body and soul together for better achievement. It improves not only his efficiency, but the efficiencies of the masses are also advanced.

(iv) It helps Economic Progress:

The insurance by protecting the society from huge losses of damage, destruction and death, provides an initiative to work hard for the betterment of the masses. The next factor of economic progress, the capital, is also immensely provided by the masses. The property, the valuable assets, the man, the machine and the society cannot lose much at the disaster.

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