Insurance underpins much of economic activity. However, it also has a significant social function. In this module, you will consider both the technical commercial law issues within insurance contract law and the social implications of organised risk pooling. The module therefore builds on general contract law, but provides a range of interesting political and social problems in which to debate.
Insurance law has ancient roots- many of the principles pre-date those in general contract law- but it has survived largely unchanged for centuries. This is likely to change considerably in the near future as the Law Commission continues its extensive project to reform insurance contract law and as insurance law has to adapt to modern circumstances.
This dual nature- commercial and social- is exemplified in the recent decision of the European Court of Justice (in Test Achats) to prohibit gender as a risk factor in insurance pricing. Men (as a class higher risk than women) cannot now be charged for their high risk status simply on the basis of their gender. The private law rule of disclosure of all material circumstances which can be traced back to the 18th century, has to change to take into account anti-discrimination legislation.