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This LibGuide was authored in Fall 2013 by Christopher Lund, JD, expected MLS, when he interned at the Gould Law Library.
Insurance relationships are primarily private contractual relationships. However, due to the crucial economic role played by insurance coverage, as well as the frequent imbalance in bargaining power between insurance providers and consumers, much of the insurance industry is heavily regulated by both statutory law and case law. This regulation serves many purposes, such as mandating the purchase of certain types of insurance (e.g., automobile insurance for drivers), limiting who can sell insurance, requiring specific provisions in insurance contracts, and ensuring timely payment of claims and regulating rates.
Pursuant to the McCarran-Ferguson Act (15 U.S.C. §1011), passed in 1945, insurance law is primarily governed on the state level. As such, this research guide will focus most heavily on the insurance laws of New York State, with coverage of general principles, federal law and non-New York State law as appropriate.
In its most basic form, an insurance relationship is created when a consumer enters into a contract with an insurance provider, whereby the consumer agrees to make regularly occurring premium payments to the insurer, and the insurer agrees that, if the consumer incurs a loss that is attributable to a particular event or circumstance, the insurer will make payment to the consumer in an amount designed to monetarily compensate the consumer for such loss. Insurance can come in many forms, and can apply to a broad range of circumstances. There is far too great a variety of insurance types to compile an exhaustive list, but some of the most common types of insurance include, without limitation, auto insurance, fire insurance, flood insurance, health insurance, liability insurance, life insurance, malpractice insurance, property insurance, title insurance and unemployment insurance.