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Laura Berry

Former Insurance Agent

Former Insurance Agent

Joshua Adamson

Joshua is a copywriter at Obrella who for more than 10 years has been creating content about insurance, health care, and more. He helps companies explain complex insurance subjects in simple ways so that customers can make smart buying decisions. He spends way too much time binge-watching Netflix, loves the outdoors and has a cat who tolerates him.

UPDATED: Mar 21, 2024

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It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one insurance provider and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider.

Our insurance industry partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different insurance companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

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How Do Insurance Companies Work?

Insurance companies sell coverage designed to help protect you against loss, theft, or damage to you or your property. The insurance companies make this possible by sharing risk among a large group of people.

Transfer of Risk

Think of insurance as a way for a group of people to pool their money to help each other pay for accidents. The premium you pay to your insurer goes into the pot and, when you or someone else files a claim, that money is used with the rest of the pot to help pay for damages. This lessens the risk of insuring you because the responsibility on helping for repairs falls on everyone with insurance, rather than just the company alone.

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How do insurance companies determine premiums?

Insurance premiums are determined before actual costs of damages are known and can vary based on the type of insurance. Because providers don’t know the cost of damages, they’re forced to base premium prices on the severity of each claim in terms of overall cost and how frequent people file claims. Insurers also work to regulate fraud, people filing false claims, in order to keep premiums down.

What happens to my money?

The money you pay into your insurance policy is distributed in three ways.

  1. To help pay others’ expenses – Part of the monthly premium you pay will help pay for repairs incurred by other individuals, or to help pay for your own repairs, if needed.
  2. To cover the expenses of “underwriting” – Underwriting fees are the costs involved in running an insurance business. The money is used to pay for taxes, state fees, and performing background checks on potential customers, as well as other business-related expenses, like employee salaries.
  3. It’s invested — To recoup underwriting losses, insurance companies also use money collected from premiums for investments. Some state regulators use an insurance company’s investment returns to determine if the company is charging a fair price for their premiums. The investments help insurance companies keep your premium low.

Read more: Life Insurance Underwriting

How are insurance companies regulated?

Insurance companies are subject to the same government oversight as all businesses and most are overseen by their own state agencies. A chief insurance regulator is appointed to govern insurance companies in each state, which is why insurance policies and procedures can vary.

Insurance companies are regulated for fraud committed by the companies themselves and the individuals who pay premiums. Fraudulent activity can adversely affect the premium rate an insurance company might require by raising it to cover instances of fraud. For example, you’ll often see characters on TV faking neck injuries in a car accident and then reporting it to their auto insurance company. Insurance companies and regulators monitor for situations like this to help keep insurance premiums down.

Looking for a new insurance company?  We’ve reviewed top auto insurance companies to help you compare those in your area. Or, call a licensed agent who can help you find the coverage you need and the customer service that will make you feel comfortable.

Before making any final decisions on your insurance company, it is important to learn as much as you can about your local insurance providers, and the coverages they offer. Call your local insurance agent to clear up any questions that you might have. Questions to consider asking include, “What is the best coverage plan for me/my family/my situation?” “What are the minimum coverage requirements in my state and what form of coverage do you recommend?” “Do you guys offer any bundle discounts if I take out both my auto insurance and home insurance with you?” and “What is the average rate of insurance quotes you guys offer?

Before making any big insurance decisions, use our free tool to compare insurance quotes near you. It’s simple, just plug in your zip code and we’ll do the rest!

Free Insurance Comparison

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