Guarding Your Finances: The Significance of Insurable Interest in Insurance


Insurable interest is a fundamental concept in insurance that safeguards individuals and entities from financial losses. This article delves into the nuances of insurable interest, its importance, and real-world applications. Learn why it’s crucial for all insurance policies and how it prevents moral hazards. Explore examples that illustrate the significance of insurable interest in various scenarios.

Understanding insurable interest

Defining insurable interest

Insurable interest, a cornerstone of insurance, serves as a protective shield against financial losses. It signifies that a person or entity has a vested stake in an item, event, or action. The crux lies in the fact that if the subject experiences damage or loss, it would result in a financial setback or other hardships for the party involved.

Insurable interest in action

To establish insurable interest, individuals or entities typically acquire insurance policies that safeguard the subject in question. These policies act as a safety net, mitigating the risk of financial loss in case of adverse events such as damage or loss of the insured asset.


Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

  • Insurable interest safeguards policyholders from financial losses.
  • It prevents moral hazards, discouraging intentional loss or damage.
  • Overly restrictive insurable interest criteria can limit policy options.
  • Insurable interest may not cover all potential risks.

Insurable interest in real life

Insurance’s role in risk management

Insurance functions as a method of pooled risk exposure, shielding policyholders from financial setbacks. Various insurance tools are designed to cover losses related to diverse factors, including automobile expenses, healthcare costs, disability-induced income loss, loss of life, and property damage.

Entities with insurable interest

Insurable interest is particularly applicable to individuals or entities that anticipate long-term sustainability, provided unexpected adverse events are avoided. For example, a corporation may possess insurable interest in its CEO, while a sports team may hold insurable interest in a star quarterback. However, it’s crucial to note that not all employees fall under this category.

Property insurable interest

Consider homeowners insurance, where a policyholder stands to face significant financial losses if their home is destroyed by fire or other catastrophic events. In such cases, the homeowner possesses a clear insurable interest in the property, as losing the home would result in a devastating financial setback.
However, it’s essential to underwrite policies carefully. Purchasing insurance for a neighbor’s house, for instance, could create a moral hazard, as it might incentivize causing damage to collect insurance proceeds.

The principle of indemnity

The principle of indemnity asserts that insurance policies should compensate policyholders for covered losses without rewarding or penalizing them. Well-structured policies align with the asset’s value at risk. Poorly conceived policies can introduce moral hazards, increasing insurance costs and premiums for policyholders.

Real-world examples

Insurable interest in life insurance

Life insurance is a prime example where insurable interest plays a pivotal role. While this wasn’t always the case, regulations now demand a genuine relationship between the policy owner and the insured, where the policy owner stands to experience financial loss upon the insured’s demise. This relationship can include immediate family members, distant relatives, romantic partners, creditors, and business associates.
Life insurance policies must adhere to the principle of not exceeding the human life value of the insured, preventing moral hazards from arising.

Compliance with insurable interest

Life insurance policies cannot be written without the knowledge of the insured person. This was exemplified in a case involving a California couple in September 2018. They faced allegations of insurance fraud for purchasing policies on individuals without their knowledge, even when the clients had terminal illnesses.


Insurable interest is the bedrock upon which the insurance industry is built. It ensures that insurance policies serve their intended purpose—to protect against financial losses—without encouraging unethical behavior. Understanding insurable interest is crucial for anyone seeking insurance coverage, as it not only safeguards policyholders but also upholds the integrity of the insurance system.

Frequently asked questions

Is insurable interest required for all insurance policies?

Yes, insurable interest is a prerequisite for all insurance policies. It serves as evidence that an individual or entity would suffer financial or other hardships due to damage or loss of the insured subject. Insurers evaluate this during the underwriting process to ensure a direct link exists.

What is a moral hazard?

A moral hazard occurs when an individual with an insurance policy has an incentive to cause loss or damage to collect on the insurance. For instance, someone terminally ill might seek a life insurance policy knowing it will pay out soon after acquisition. Insurable interest helps minimize moral hazards.

Why can’t I take out a life insurance policy on just anyone?

Unless you have insurable interest, you cannot take out a life insurance policy on another individual. This requirement prevents individuals from profiting from the death of unrelated parties. Typically, family members, dependents, business partners, borrowers, and key employees meet the insurable interest criterion.

Key takeaways

  • Insurable interest is a critical element of insurance, linking the insured and policyholder.
  • It applies when the loss of the subject would lead to financial hardship for the policyholder.
  • Insurance policies should not create moral hazards, encouraging policyholders to cause or allow losses.
View article sources
  1. Public Policy and Insurable Interest in Life Insurance – University of Michigan
  2. The Rule of Insurable Interest and the Principle of Indemnity: Are They Measures of Damages in Property Insurance? – College of William & Mary Law School
  3. Insurable Interest in Life – University of Pennsylvania
  4. An Analysis of Insurable Interest Under Article Two of the Uniform Commercial Code – Vanderbilt Law Review
  5. How To Get Life Insurance For Your Parents – SuperMoney