The insurance market has evolved from the establishment of the first automobile insurance policy to the various types of life insurance products that are available today. The insurance market has a structure that involves property and casualty insurers, life insurers as well as health insurers. Each of these types of insurers have regulations that apply to the policies that they provide. Insurers are regulated by a combination of state and federal laws, depending on the type of insurance they offer.
Property and casualty insurers offer various types of insurance for individuals to purchase, such as automobile and homeowners insurance. A property and casualty insurer can also offer types of commercial insurance, such as a small business package, general business liability, umbrella policies and workers compensation. Property and casualty insurers are regulated by laws in each state where they sell policies.
A mutual insurance company is a company owned by policyholders. This means that each policyholder is given a vote to decide who will sit on the board of directors. A mutual insurance company can sell types of insurance or only provide one type of product or service to their customers. The earnings from a mutual insurance company are distributed to policyholders in the form of dividends.
A stock insurance company is a company owned by stockholders. Unlike a mutual insurance company, a stock insurer not only needs to protect its policyholders but also maximize profits for the company's policyholders. A stock insurance company can pay dividends to stockholders but generally do not pay dividends to their policyholders.
Property and casualty insurers can also provide types of life insurance. A life insurance company can be a mutual insurance company or part of a stock insurance company. Companies that provide life insurance usually offer financial products to their policyholders, such as annuities and certain types of mutual funds.
The insurance market also contains companies that provide health insurance policies to individuals as well as employers in the form of a group health insurance policy. Companies that provide a group health insurance policy to an employer are regulated by a combination of federal and state laws. States can also provide health insurance to residents if it is unavailable from a private insurer because of cost or ineligibility.
Many insurance companies are under a common ownership in which one corporation has one or more insurance business that act as independent companies. The most common type of common ownership for an insurance company is when it is established as a captive insurer. A captive insurer can be formed to provide coverage for various types of business risks. The most common type of captive insurer provides reinsurance coverage. This is a type of insurance where multiple insurance companies share the same loss.