How do insurance companies make money?


Date: 22 December 2021

An insurer inspects the damage to a customer's car

Insurance companies generally make money by assuming and diversifying risk. For example, the risk that your car won't be wrecked in a crash, the risk that your house won't be destroyed by fire, or the risk that you won't die prematurely meaning the insurance company has to pay out.

The idea that drives an insurance company's revenue model is a business arrangement between an organisation, business, or individual. The insurance company promises to pay for an asset loss by the insured due to illness, damage, or death.

While this may sound simple, how insurance companies make money long term is more complicated. Here's what you need to know. 


Underwriting revenues usually come from the money accumulated on insurance policy premiums. But this does not include the cash paid out for operating the business and on claims.

Say, for example, an insurance company receives £5,000,000 from the monthly premiums paid by consumers for their policies in a year. Also, let's say that the company paid £4,000,000 in claims in the same year.

It means that the insurance company earned £1,000,0000. Underwriters make a significant effort to ensure the math works in their favour. Moreover, the factors taken into consideration when establishing whether a potential customer qualifies for an insurance policy are complicated. Key metrics such as credit history, gender, annual income, age, and health are measured. These things are vetted thoroughly to obtain a premium cost level where the insurer gains maximum advantage.

This is crucial because the underwriting business model makes sure that insurance companies stand an excellent chance of making more profit by not paying out the policies they sell. That's why insurers go to great lengths to crunch the algorithms and data that determine the risk of having to pay out a policy.

So, if the data indicates the risk is high, then the insurance company will charge the customer more or won't offer a policy. On the other hand, if the risk is low, the insurer will gladly offer a policy.

What separates insurance companies from conventional businesses is that they put no money upfront. Plus, they only need to pay out if a valid and reasonable claim is made.

Investment income

Another way insurance companies make money is through investment income. When a customer pays their premium each month, the insurer takes the payment and invests in the financial market to boost their revenues.

And, because insurance companies don't need to put money upfront to create a product, there is more money to invest. Hence, more profits are to be made. Investment income is an excellent profit-making proposition for insurers.

What's more, if the investments blow over, insurance companies typically increase the price of their policy premiums and transfer the losses onto consumers. 

Expiring term policies

While investment income is an excellent source of revenue for insurance companies, expiring term policies can often be financially rewarding as well. For example, when an insurance policy expires, it's no longer accountable to the insurance company.

It means that insurers do not have to pay out a benefit on an expired policy. But expired term policies could also mean lost revenue because they are no longer being paid for, and the cash value can't be invested. 


If, for example, an insurance policy customer discovers that they have generated sizeable funds through dividends and investment from insurance company investments, they may want to close down the account and get the money. Insurers are usually happy to oblige because all liability ends.

Even though the customer takes the cash value, the insurer still keeps all the premiums that have been paid. They pay the customer with interest gained on their investments and keep the left-over cash. 


In general, insurers can pay off the claims themselves. However, insurers often spread out the risk to insurance companies that insure other insurance companies. Reinsurance helps insurance companies avoid default and keep themselves solvent.

Since insurers can transfer risks, they are more aggressive in seizing market share. What's more, reinsurance straightens out the natural fluctuations of insurance companies, which can see significant deviations in losses and profits.

Moreover, insurers often check Nectar's opinion on setting goals in order to hit their own business targets. Insurance companies charge a premium rate for policies to customers, and then they get affordable rates reinsuring the policies. 

Final words

Insurance companies have a clear plan in order to keep cashing in and earning profits. And as long as your insurer stays profitable, how the insurance company makes a profit will have no noticeable impact on your policy.

Insurance companies make money through investments and premiums. However, it is in their interest to keep premiums affordable. If your insurance company has strong finances, you can rest assured that your policy will pay out to you or your family members should the need arise.

Copyright 2021. Article was made possible by site supporter Tiffany Wagner.

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.