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Whose Conception of Insurance?

Professor Abraham’s new Article, Four Conceptions of Insurance, offers an invaluable overview and critique of four modern conceptions of insurance. He cautions that “the particular lens through which we view insurance law cannot tell us what principles should govern or what policy choices to make.” But who is the “we” in that statement? This Response focuses on three overlooked groups with an important interest in such governing principles and policy choices. First, Abraham mentions insurance brokers only briefly, describing how large insurance brokers can negotiate policy terms. But brokers, large and small, play an important role in deciding which available insurance a policyholder purchases. Second, any discussion of homeowners insurance should include mortgage holders, who require mortgagors to purchase insurance and whose interest in the scope of coverage is equal to or greater than the homeowner’s. Third, within the construction industry, general contractors seek to transfer risk to their subcontractors, who must purchase liability policies naming general contractors as “additional insureds.” The contract model, which looks to the intent of the insurer and the subcontractor, as expressed in the policy language, preserves the expectations of the parties to the contract. In examining each of these three overlooked groups’ interests in an insurance transaction, we may discover that the contract model, so frequently maligned in the academic literature, is not so bad after all.