Mutuality and solidarity: assessing risks and sharing losses

David Wilkie

Abstract

Mutuality is the principle of private, commercial insurance; individuals enter the pool for sharing losses, and pay according to the best estimate of the risk they bring with them. Solidarity is the sharing of losses with payment according to some other scheme; this is the principle of state social insurance; essential features of solidarity are comprehensiveness and compulsion. Private insurance is subject to the uberrima fides principle, or utmost good faith; each side declares all it knows about the risk. The Disability Discrimination Act requires insurers to justify disability discrimination on the basis of relevant information, actuarial, statisical or medical, on which it is reasonable to rely. it could be very damaging to private insurance to abandon uberrima fides. However, although some genetic information is clearly useful to underwriters, other information may be so general as to be of little use. The way in which mortality rates are assessed is also explained.

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