Insurance 101

What Is Insurance? Definition, Benefits & Types

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What Is Insurance? 

The word insurance is used very commonly, and many people have purchased insurance policies for healthcare or property. It’s essential to know how insurance works because it can be an expensive, recurring investment. 

What Is Insurance? 

Insurance is a contract in the form of a policy that gives financial protection against losses. What protection is given for what situations will depend on the policy details. You can expect your policy to include or exclude certain perils (i.e. 

How Insurance Works

If an accident or covered incident occurs, there are often expenses that come with them. A broken bone could come with significant medical costs, a car accident could result in the need for auto repairs. These incidents can often have a huge negative impact on someone’s financial situation. 

How Insurance Works

By filing an insurance claim, the insurance company may be able to cover a significant portion of the expenses. Since claims can often be in many thousands of dollars, it helps prevent the insured party from needing to pay a large amount of money out of pocket. 

An insurance company essentially pools its clients’ risks so that it can make standard insurance more affordable. 

For example, if your house gets damaged, you can file a claim with your insurance company. While the process may vary from insurer to insurer, there will typically be an insurance adjuster assigned to your case. They will look over the evidence of your damages and decide whether to accept or reject your insurance claim. 

Once your claim has been accepted, you will receive a payout with the agreed upon monetary amount. That way, you will be better able to pay off your expenses. 

There are many different types of insurance that you can buy, but they all essentially serve to provide you and your loved ones with improved financial security and peace of mind. 

Insurance Policy Components

The three main insurance policy components are the premium, the policy limit, as well as the deductible. 


The insurance premium is how you have to pay for your insurance policy to be active. Typically, it is paid every month, though your insurer may offer discounts if you set up an annual premium.

Your premium will vary depending on a number of factors. It is determined by your insurance company based on your credit, your risk profile, your history of claims, and more. 

insurance policy components

For example, if you have shown reckless behavior in the past resulting in a record of drunk driving leading to on-road accidents, your premium will be a lot more expensive than if you have a perfect record. In addition, if you are a new or young driver, your premium will cost more than if you are an older, experienced driver. 

Policy limit

Also known as a coverage limit, the policy limit is the maximum amount a claim can reach before insurance stops giving you coverage. 

Per period limits are limits imposed upon a single term, which is generally a year, though the policy term may vary. 

Per loss or per injury limits may be better for your situation if you expect frequent, smaller claims. 

insurance policy limit

Lifetime maximum will be in place for the entire lifetime of the policy. 

In general, the higher your coverage limits, the more expensive your premium will be. When shopping for insurance, it’s a good idea to see whether your coverage limit is at a reasonable amount that you would need assistance with. 


The deductible is the specific amount of money you have to pay out of pocket before an insurance company will agree to pay the claim. They exist in part because they serve to deter large volumes of small, insignificant claims. 

The higher your deductible, the more money you will have to pay before insurance will kick in. However, this also means your premium should be lower.

Common Types Of Insurance

Insurance comes in many different forms. The average person will need to purchase several different types of insurance. Some insurance types are more obscure and niche than others.

home insurance

Here are some of the most common types of insurance you may need:

Home insurance 

Home insurance, or property insurance, helps provide coverage for damages from various perils, such as natural disasters, theft, vandalism, and more. Property insurance will be able to cover your expenses up to the coverage limit. 

home insurance

Auto insurance 

Car insurance is required in almost all states for drivers, which means auto insurance is ubiquitous. Motor insurance helps protect your valuable vehicle from road accidents, repairs, losses, and more. 

auto insurance

It’s important to remember that traffic rules require you to carry your auto insurance papers while you are driving. 

Auto insurance can help you with car accidents, including if someone has been injured and requires medical support. The details of what situations are covered and up to how much payout you can get will depend on the policy you have bought.  

Life insurance

Life insurance provides coverage in case there is death, either premature or otherwise, in the family. It is meant to provide financial protection to families in case there is an absence due to untimely death. A grieving family may be able to receive a lump sum compensation so that their financial struggles are alleviated. 

life insurance

Life insurance can be a distressing topic for many, but it is something that makes a real difference for family members. 

Health insurance 

Health insurance can provide coverage to you and/or your family members in case you run into medical expenses. Reimbursement is given for costs such as treatment and hospitalization. 

It’s very important to check what type of health issues are covered by your health insurance, and what costs may be covered. Health claims can be notoriously difficult to receive insurance payouts for.  

car insurance is beneficial

Depending on the insurance you have paid for, health insurance may give you a list of in-network hospitals. These hospitals generally give you more benefits if you visit them than if you visit an out of network location. 

Flood insurance 

Flood insurance is separate from other kinds of property insurance because many residential or property insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. 

flood insurance

Travel insurance 

When travelling, you may incur losses, such as if you lose something. Travel insurance could be either for travel abroad or domestically. 

If you travel frequently or travel with items of significant value on your person, it may be a good idea to purchase travel insurance. Nearly half of American travelers have incurred losses while travelling and have not had any travel insurance to help them with the replacement or repair costs. 

Long term disability

Disability insurance helps support those who become unable to work, such as through a severe injury. Long term disability may give you a large portion of your lost income in case you become disabled.

What Are The Benefits Of Insurance?

1. Insurance gives you certainty and peace of mind

If an accident occurs and you have expenses you need to pay, insurance can help a lot. Costly accidents could result in thousands of dollars of repair fees, medical costs, and more. Being able to file a claim and receive a payout reduces the stress of worrying about a catastrophic peril, such as a car accident, flood, or another unexpected incident. 

2. Insurance provides you with financial reimbursement in case of a big incident

Insurance premiums can be costly, depending on what policy you are paying for and what your specific needs are. However, they can save you a tremendous amount of money in case an incident occurs. 

For example, if you are running a business, having commercial insurance can be the difference between the continuation of your business versus the forced closure of your business in case of a covered incident. 

3. You can customize your coverage to suit your needs

While not every insurance company allows you to add endorsements or add-ons to personalize your coverage, many do. Being able to customize your policy so that your deductible, coverage limits, and covered perils fit your needs can grant you the exact amount of benefits you are looking for. 

4. You can protect those around you 

Some kinds of insurance, such as life insurance and disability insurance, can ensure you protect your loved ones even if you yourself are unable to. A lot of the time when devastating incidents occur, we can feel helpless. With insurance, at least you won’t have to worry as much about the financial needs in case an accident does occur. 

5. Insurance coverage facilitates financial growth 

While having to pay a monthly premium may feel like insurance coverage is eating away at your wallet, insurance actually encourages people to save money and use their money on investments. 

6. Insurance helps protect communities 

Insurance coverage creates a bubble of protection around local communities or business industries. Because entire communities can become protected, in case of an emergency such as a regional flood or hurricane, insurance can ensure that the community can bounce back from the incident. Loss mitigation due to destruction or damage for the community that has insurance can go a long way in ensuring the continued health and recovery for an entire nation. 

7. Insurance can be a value-generating asset 

Some kinds of insurance, such as a life insurance policy, can build value for you over time. It can transition into cash value later on as you end up converting the insurance benefits into cash. 

In general, if you stay with one insurance company for different coverage forms, you might even be able to receive additional discounts or benefits for loyalty rewards.  

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