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The University of Southampton

LAWS3088 Insurance Contract Law

Module Overview

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.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the main principles which govern insurance law, including:
  • comparative outlook;
  • the main commercial and regulatory policies and values underpinning insurance contract law;
  • the existing areas of debate about what the law is and what it ought to be, both in UK and internationally.
  • the nature of insurance;
  • the making of insurance contracts;
  • the role and function of brokers;
  • insurable interest;
  • utmost good faith;
  • construction and terms;
  • paying claims;
  • principles of consumer insurance;
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyse relevant legal materials, including international conventions, statutes, case law and standard form insurance contracts;
  • identify key legal and policy issues in their commercial and regulatory contexts;
  • apply insurance contract law principles, with appropriate legal authorities, in the solution of complex practical problems;
  • draft legal advice based upon such problems;
  • critically appraise and offer solutions in existing areas of debate in UK and international insurance law;
  • display clarity and objectivity in written discussion.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • identify and locate relevant legal materials, including statutes, case law, standard form insurance contracts and commentary;
  • think critically in relation to policy issues;
  • plan and manage your studying.


Introduction - nature of insurance; life, property, liability insurance Making insurance contracts Role of brokers - commercial market Role of brokers - consumer market Insurable interest Utmost good faith Duty of disclosure Fraudulent claims Construction and terms - warranties Paying claims Consumer insurance Reinsurance - function of reinsurance and types of cover Reinsurance - clauses Insurers' insolvency - direct action Subrogation

Learning and Teaching

Follow-up work75
Preparation for scheduled sessions120
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Lowry, Rawlins & Merkin (2011). Insurance Law: Doctrines and Principles. 

Law Commission materials.

Case law from other common law countries. 

European Court of Justice case law,. 

English case law,. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional reading text as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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