The Insurance Policy as Thing
Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, Vol. 44, p. 813, 2009
59 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2010 Last revised: 27 Aug 2010
Date Written: March 1, 2009
Insurance policies are a type of contract. But characterizing them only as contracts misses much of the richness of the insurance arrangement, policyholder-insurer relations, and the degree to which insurance policies, which are heavily standardized, are designed to perform a particular function. Because of their mass standardization and deployment to address particular risk management issues, insurance policies are in many respects like products or chattels. Insurers and the insurance trade press in fact frequently speak of a line of insurance "products" or a new "product" being introduced to address an emerging risk. Appreciating this aspect of the insurance policy can assist courts in construing policies and resolving coverage disputes, particularly where the language at issue is unclear or problematic if literally applied. Building on prior scholarship, this article develops the notion of the insurance policy as a "thing" as well as a contract and provides examples of the interpretative value of deploying this additional perspective.
Keywords: insurance, contract, intangible chattels
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