Human beings are exposed to various kinds of risks in their everyday life. Risks are inevitable and cannot be avoided. There is an element of uncertainty in every human activity, which cannot be bypassed. However, they can be minimised and the process by which such risks are controlled is termed as ‘Insurance’
An insurance policy is designed to protect the financial well being of an individual, company or other entity in the case of an unexpected loss. It is a form of agreement wherein in exchange for payments from the insured, the insurer agrees to pay the policyholder a sum of money upon the occurrence of a specific event. Such payments are known as premiums.
The modern concept of insurance is broadly of two kinds:
a. Voluntary or Commercial Insurance
b. Compulsory or Social Insurance
Commercial Insurance consists of:
Compulsory or Social Insurance is a recent branch of insurance which was introduced by Prince Otto Von Bismarck of Germany. Social Insurance includes:
Compensation for industrial injuries
Old Age insurance
Insurance for the blind
In US, social insurance first appeared in the 1930s while in India, the Employees’ State Insurance Scheme (1948) was the first instance of such system.
In UK, most insurance policies, other than a life insurance policy, are annual contracts and thus needed to be renewed.
Insurance law has been criticised as unduly harsh to policyholders. In Britain, the Law Reform Committee in 1957, the Law Commission in 1980, the National Consumer Council in 1997 and the British Insurance Law Association in 2002 published reports recommending amendments and reforms.
In case of problems , consumers are entitled to refer any dispute to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Ombudsmen can implement the conduct of business rules issued by the Financial Services Authority. Most significantly, he has a statutory discretion, which he can use to develop an alternative set of principles to the existing law.
Insurance, as a sector, has a very important role in a nation’s economy. Apart from providing security to the individuals, it also contributes in capital mobilisation. Insurance Law is one of the most dynamic branches of present day legal system and lawyers, policy makers, and jurists have a significant role to play in its development, and implementation.