The first use of insurance was to insure property for over sea voyages. Soon after there was insurance for property that didn’t move, buildings, inventory, raw materials, and the like. It wasn’t until recently that life insurance has come into its prime. In the beginning of the 20th century limited life insurance policies were written to cover the cost of funerals but that was as far as they went. Then in the 1950’s people began to realize the need for health and life insurance as a means to offset unexpected occurrences.
The reason that health and life insurance started to become commonplace is that for all of the time that people were insuring their property they weren’t insuring their greatest asset. Unless someone is independently wealthy the greatest asset they have is their ability to earn money. This ability to secure a paycheck far outweighs any current asset that someone may have.
What is Economic Death
Any unforeseen event that limits the ability of an individual to secure a paycheck is considered an economic death. Even if the event is not substantial enough to force a person completely out of work, if it significantly lowers the income attainable, it can be construed as a partial economic death.
For example, Joe Smith works at a factory where he makes $50,000 a year. If he works for 40 years he can safely assume he’ll make $2,000,000. With a little financial planning this should be enough to assure him a nice retirement.
However, there are several circumstances that could limit this potential income. There are potential accidents, illnesses, or economic situations that may cause him to either not be able to perform his job or cause his company to go out of business. These situations, these risk factors, are considered his exposure.
Three Types of Economic Death
How Can an Individual Respond to Risk
There are four universal responses to risk. These responses, and the actions they produce, define the probability of an individual succeeding or failing in the avoidance of serious risk repercussions
Risks that are Often Insured Against
There are an almost unlimited number of risks that can be insured against. Lloyd’s of London has become infamous for insuring celebrity body parts from Keith Richards two million dollar hands to Mariah Carey’s one billion dollar legs (CalgarySun.com 9). These are far from the norm but anything can be insured for a price. For those of us without such outlandish salaries the most common risks that are covered are accident and sickness.
These risks are monetarily offset in a legal contract that sets a premium (payable at a set interval) for an individual to obtain a lump sum disbursement upon either the completion of a set term or upon the occurrence of the risk that was being contracted to offset.