What Is Insurance?
Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss. It is a form of risk management, primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent or uncertain loss.
An entity which provides insurance is known as an insurer, insurance company, insurance carrier or underwriter. A person or entity who buys insurance is known as an insured or as a policyholder. The insurance transaction involves the insured assuming a guaranteed and known relatively small loss in the form of payment to the insurer in exchange for the insurer’s promise to compensate the insured in the event of a covered loss. The loss may or may not be financial, but it must be reducible to financial terms, and usually involves something in which the insured has an insurable interest established by ownership, possession, or pre-existing relationship.
The insured receives a contract, called the insurance policy, which details the conditions and circumstances under which the insurer will compensate the insured. The amount of money charged by the insurer to the policyholder for the coverage set forth in the insurance policy is called the premium. If the insured experiences a loss which is potentially covered by the insurance policy, the insured submits a claim to the insurer for processing by a claims adjuster. The insurer may hedge its own risk by taking out reinsurance, whereby another insurance company agrees to carry some of the risks, especially if the primary insurer deems the risk too large for it to carry.
2. How does insurance work?
The insurer and the insured get a legal contract for the insurance, which is called the insurance policy. The insurance policy has details about the conditions and circumstances under which the insurance company will pay out the insurance amount to either the insured person or the nominees.
Insurance is a way of protecting yourself and your family from a financial loss. Generally, the premium for a big insurance cover is much lesser in terms of money paid. The insurance company takes this risk of providing a high cover for a small premium because very few insured people actually end up claiming the insurance. This is why you get insurance for a big amount at a low price.
Any individual or company can seek insurance from an insurance company, but the decision to provide insurance is at the discretion of the insurance company. The insurance company will evaluate the claim application to make a decision. Generally, insurance companies refuse to provide insurance to high-risk applicants.
3. What are the types of insurance available in India?
Insurance in India can be broadly divided into three categories:
As the name suggests, life insurance is insurance on your life. You buy life insurance to make sure your dependents are financially secured in the event of your untimely demise. Life insurance is particularly important if you are the sole breadwinner for your family or if your family is heavily reliant on your income. Under life insurance, the policyholder’s family is financially compensated in case the policyholder expires during the term of the policy.
Health insurance is bought to cover medical costs for expensive treatments. Different types of health insurance policies cover an array of diseases and ailments. You can buy a generic health insurance policy as well as policies for specific diseases. The premium paid towards a health insurance policy usually covers treatment, hospitalization and medication costs.
In today’s world, a car insurance is an important policy for every car owner. This insurance protects you against any untoward incident like accidents. Some policies also compensate for damages to your car during natural calamities like floods or earthquakes. It also covers third-party liability where you have to pay damages to other vehicle owners.
The child education insurance is akin to a life insurance policy which has been specially designed as a saving tool. An education insurance can be a great way to provide a lump sum amount of money when your child reaches the age for higher education and gains entry into college (18 years and above). This fund can then be used to pay for your child’s higher education expenses. Under this insurance, the child is the life assured or the recipient of the funds, while the parent/legal guardian is the owner of the policy.
You can estimate the amount of money that will go into funding your children’s higher education using Education Planning Calculator.
We all dreaming of owning our own homes. Home insurance can help with covering loss or damage caused to your home due to accidents like fire and other natural calamities or perils. Home insurance covers other instances like lightning, earthquakes etc.
4. What are the tax benefits on insurance?
Apart from the safety and security benefits of buying insurance, there are also the income tax benefits that you can avail.
- Life insurance premium of up to ₹1.5 lakh can be claimed as a tax-saving deduction under Section 80C
- Medical insurance premium of up to ₹25,000 for yourself and your family and ₹25,000 for your parents can be claimed as a tax-saving deduction under Section 80D
These claims have to be made at the time of e-filing income tax returns.
Be it life insurance, health insurance or general insurance, you can buy an insurance policy offline as well as online. Just like there are insurance agents who will help you buy a policy, there are websites as well that you can buy a policy from. Ensure that you have done your research before choosing and investing in an insurance policy.