When we talk of insurance, we are referring to risks in all forms. Hence, having for an insurance policy is just a way of sharing our risks with other people with similar risks.
However, while some risks can be insured (i.e. insurable risks), some cannot be insured according to their nature (i.e. non-insurable risks).
Insurable risks are the type of risks in which the insurer makes provision for or insures against because it is possible to collect, calculate and estimate the likely future losses. Insurable risks have previous statistics which are used as a basis for estimating the premium. It holds out the prospect of loss but not gain. The risks can be forecast and measured e.g. motor insurance, marine insurance, life insurance etc.
This type of risk is the one in which the chance of occurrence can be deduced, from the available information on the frequency of similar past occurrence. Examples of what an insurable risk is as explained:
Example1: The probability (or chance) that a certain vehicle will be involved in an accident in year 2011 (out of the total vehicle insured that year 2011) can be determined from the number of vehicles that were involved in accidents in each of some previous years (out of the total vehicle insured those years).
Example2: The probability (or chance) that a man (or woman) of a certain age will die in the ensuring year can be estimated by the fraction of people of that age that died in each of some previous years.
Non-insurable risks are type of risks which the insurer is not ready to insure against simply because the likely future losses cannot be estimated and calculated. It holds the prospect of gain as well as loss. The risk cannot be forecast and measured.
Example1: The chance that the demand for a commodity will fall next year due to a change in consumers’ taste will be difficult to estimate as previous statistics needed for it may not be available.
Example 2: The chance that a present production technique will become obsolete or out-of-date by next year as a result of technological advancement.
Other examples of non-insurable risks are:
1. Acts of God: All risks involving natural disasters referred to as acts of God such as
It should be noted that any building, property or life insured but lost during an occurrence of any act of God (listed above) cannot be compensated by an insurer. Also, this non-insurability is being extended to those in connection with radioactive contamination.
2. Gambling: You cannot insure your chances of losing a gambling game.
3. Loss of profit through competition: You cannot insure your chances of winning or losing in a competition.
4. Launching of new product: A manufacturer launching a new product cannot insure the chances of acceptability of the new product since it has not been market-tested.
5. Loss incurred as a result of bad/inefficient management: The ability to successfully manage an organization depends on many factors and the profit/loss depends on the judicious utilization of these factors, one of which is efficient management capability. The expected loss in an organization as a result of inefficiency cannot be insured.
6. Poor location of a business: A person situating a business in a poor location must know that the probability of its success is slim. Insuring such business is a sure way of duping an insurer.
7. Loss of profit as a result of fall in demand: The demand for any product varies with time and other factors. An insurer will never insure based on expected loss due to decrease in demand.
8. Speculation: This is the engagement in a venture offering the chance of considerable gain but the possibility of loss. A typical example is the action or practice of investing in stocks, property, etc., in the hope of profit from a rise or fall in market value but with the possibility of a loss. This cannot be insured because it is considered as a non-insurable risk.
9. Opening of a new shop/office: The opening of a new shop is considered a non-insurable risk. You don’t know what to expect in the operation of the new shop; it is illogical for an insurer to accept in insuring a new shop for you.
10. Change in fashion: Fashion is a trend which cannot be predicted. Any expected change in fashion cannot be insured. A fashion house cannot be insured because the components of the fashion house may become outdated at any point in time.
11. Motoring offenses: You cannot obtain an insurance policy against expected fines for offenses committed while on wheels.
However, it should be noted that there is no clear distinction between insurable and non-insurable risks. Theoretically, an insurance company should be ready to insure anything if a sufficiently high premium would be paid. Nevertheless, the distinction is useful for practical purposes.