What is an 'Insurance Premium'

An insurance premium is the amount of money that an individual or business must pay for an insurance policy. The insurance premium is considered income by the insurance company once it is earned, and also represents a liability in that the insurer must provide coverage for claims being made against the policy.

BREAKING DOWN 'Insurance Premium'

The amount of insurance premium that is required for insurance coverage depends on a variety of factors. Insurance companies examine the type of coverage, the likelihood of a claim being made, the area where the policyholder lives or operates a business, the behavior of the person or business being covered, and the amount of competition that the insurer faces.

Actuaries employed by an insurance company can determine, for example, the likelihood of a claim being made against a teenage driver living in an urban area compared to one in a suburban area. In general, the greater the risk associated with a policy the more expensive the insurance policy will be.

Policyholders are often given a number of options when it comes to paying an insurance premium. Some insurers allow the policyholder to pay the insurance premium in installments, for example monthly or semi-annual payments, or may require the policyholder to pay the total amount before coverage starts.

Insurance premiums may increase after the policy period ends. The insurer may increase the premium if claims were made during the previous period, if the risk associated with offering a particular type of insurance increases, or if the cost of providing coverage increases.

Insurers use the insurance premium to cover the liabilities associated with the policies that they underwrite, as well as to invest the premium in order to generate higher returns. Insurers will invest the premiums in assets with varying levels of liquidity and return, with the amount of liquid assets often set by state insurance regulators. Regulators want to make sure that policyholders will be able to have their claims paid for, and thus require insurers to retain adequate reserves.

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