Deep Dive into the Vast and Complex Business of the Insurance Industry


What is Insurance?

Insurance protects a person or a business against financial loss. It is a method of risk management primarily used to protect against the risk of an uncertain or contingent activity happening such as a violent storm, negligence or health concern.

A provider of insurance is referred to as an insurer, insurance company, insurance carrier, or underwriter. A policyholder is a person or entity that purchases insurance, while an insured is a person or entity covered by the policy.

In simple terms, insurance is a contract, represented by a policy, in which a policyholder receives financial protection or payment from an insurance provider in the event of a loss.

Historical Development of Insurance

display of tablets from the Library of Ashurbanipal. The Library lists a copy of the "judgments of Hammurabi" over a millennium after Hammurabi's death

In approximately 1755 B.C., the Code of Hammurabi provided a foundation for institutionalizing insurance. It established the terms “bottomry” and “respondentia,” which refer to vessel bottoms and cargo, respectively. [1] These became the basis for marine insurance arrangements. These contracts included three components:

  • A loan on the vessel, cargo, or freight
  • An interest rate
  • A surcharge to cover possibility of loss.

Babylonian traders were familiar with bottomry contracts as early as 4000–3000 BCE.  Hindus also practiced Bottomry in 600 BCE, which was extensively understood in ancient Greece by 400 BCE.

Bottomry is a maritime contract.  A ship’s owner borrows money for equipping or repairing the vessel pledges the vessel as security and for a specified term. It is stipulated that the lender will lose his money if the ship is lost from any peril. [2]

Under a bottomry contract, merchants were granted loans with the provision that the loan would not need to be returned if the shipment was lost at sea. The loan’s interest rate covered the insurance risk.

Ancient Roman law acknowledged the bottomry contract in which a written agreement and monies were deposited with a money changer.  In the 15th century, marine insurance grew into a highly established industry.

In Rome, burial groups also funded their members’ funeral expenses through monthly dues. Similarly, the insurance contract evolved early on.  It was well-known in ancient Greece and among marine nations with trading ties to the country. [3]

Global Operations

a tablet with a globe and networking lines around it, a stethoscope

In the 20th century, the market for insurance on a global scale grew dramatically as a result of the rapid expansion of international trade and the extent to which businesses made investments beyond their home nations.  This development necessitated a global network of offices to provide brokerage services, aid with underwriting, claims processing, etc.

Leading Global Insurance Companies in 2022

Ping An International Finance Center

In 2022, China is leading the insurance industry. According to Forbes Global 2000, giant insurance companies spread across China, the U.S., Germany, France, Hong Kong and Switzerland are among the largest public companies in the world based on a composite score accounting for their revenue, profit, assets and market value. [4]

World's Largest Insurance Companies

World's Largest Insurance Companies



Global 2000 Rank

Market Value (billions)

Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China,Ltd. class H




United Health Group Incorporated

United States











China Life Insurance Co. Ud. Class H




AIA Group Limited

Hong Kong




United States



Zurich Insurance Group




Cigna Corporation

United States



Amencan International Group,Inc.

United States



Chubb Limited




Source: Forbes May 12, 2022:

These massive global insurance companies provide services to millions of people and businesses across the globe.

What are the Major Types of Insurance?

1. Health Insurance

Health insurance is an insurance policy that covers the costs associated with medical care.

Health insurance policies either pay for or repay the cost of any illness or injury treatment.

Various types of insurance policies cover a variety of medical bills. [5]

What Are The Biggest Health Insurance Companies?

a hand holding a pen, a health insurance form on a table, and a coffee

UnitedHealth Group, Anthem, Centene, Humana, and Health Care Service Corp. are the leading health insurers in market share (HCSC). These corporations control roughly 46% of the health insurance market collectively. [6]

These providers offer primary health insurance products to people and businesses and other services like Medicaid and Medicare coverage, long-term care insurance, dental insurance, and vision benefits.

Market Share of Largest Health Insurance Companies

*Market share percentages were pulled using the S&P Capital IQ market share tool

Source: ValuePenguin:

Health Insurance Company Rankings By Revenue

Health Insurance Company Rankings By Revenue

Rank Company Revenue
1 UnitedHealth Group $286 billion
2 Anthem $138 billion
3 Centene $126 billion
4 Kaiser Permanente $89 billion
5 Humana $83 billion
6 CVS Health $61 billion
7 HCSC $47 billion
8 Molina Healthcare $20 billion

Source: ValuePenguin:

Top 5 Largest Health Insurance Companies By Membership 

The largest health insurance provider is the company with the greatest number of members. Membership, also known as covered lives, refers to the number of individuals enrolled in a health insurance plan with a given provider. There are various ways to enroll in a health insurance plan. For example, your employer’s benefit plan may include coverage for health insurance. [6]

Other methods comprise:

  • Medicare and retirement plans
  • Medicaid services
  • Individual health insurance (open enrollment)

UnitedHealth Group, with 146 million members, is the largest health insurance company by total members. Its policies can be purchased in all 50 states in America. In addition to having the most subscribers, UnitedHealthcare boasts a network of over 1,300,000 physicians, health care professionals, and over 6,500 hospitals.

Anthem has more than 45 million members. Anthem is a member organization of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Commercial & Business Health Care provides network-based services to large and small organizations, individuals, and Medicaid and Medicare markets.

Aetna. By membership, Aetna, with approximately 39 million members, is the third-largest provider of health insurance and related services. [7] In 2018, CVS Health Corporation purchased Aetna. CVS Health now manages the organization and has been able to merge its provider networks with Aetna’s membership base.

MetLife building

Cigna, with about 17.8 million membership [8], is the fourth-largest major U.S. medical insurance provider. Cigna, headquartered in Bloomfield, Connecticut, provides health insurance and health services to businesses worldwide. Cigna offers dental, behavioral health, vision, supplementary health, and Medicare/Medicaid benefits in addition to corporate health insurance policies and the management of these plans.

Humana has around 6 million members [9] and is the fifth-largest health insurance provider. The provider was established in 1961 and supplied long-term care insurance before expanding into the health insurance market.

Top 5 Largest Health Insurance Companies By Membership

Insurance Company Membership
UnitedHealth Group Approx 146 million
Anthem Approx. 45 million
Aetna Approx. 39 million
Cigna Approx. 17.8 million
Humana Approx. 6 million

2. Vehicle Insurance

a man fixing the engine of a car

Vehicle insurance or also known as automotive insurance is a contract between you and the insurance company that provides financial protection in the event of an accident or theft. In exchange for your premium payment, the insurance company agrees to cover your losses according to the terms of your policy. [10]

There are various kinds of automobile insurance that vary not just in the kind of risks they cover but also in the underlying legal principles.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, at the beginning of the 21st century, approximately two-thirds of the premiums paid for private passenger auto insurance in the United States were used to pay claims. [11]

More than half of this amount was for automobile damage. The remaining portion covered personal injuries.  The remaining one-third of premium payments funded expenses like commissions, dividends to policyholders, and corporate operations, and contributed to insurance companies’ profits.

Auto insurance protects against:

  • Property – include damage to or theft of your automobile
  • Liability – your legal obligation to others for bodily harm or material damage
  • Medical – the price of treating injuries, rehabilitation, and, in some cases, lost wages and funeral costs

The majority of U.S. states mandate basic auto insurance, however laws vary. Separately priced (à la carte) auto insurance coverages allow you to customize coverage amounts to your specific needs and budget.

Policies are often issued for terms of six months or one year and are renewable. When it is time to renew the policy and pay the payment, the insurance company notifies the policyholder.

10 largest insurance companies in the U.S

10 largest insurance companies in the U.S



Premiums written in billions

Market share percentage


State Farm
























Liberty Mutual








American Family







Source: Value Penguin [12]

List Of The Largest Car Insurance Companies By State 

Source: ValuePenguin:

State Farm is the largest insurance provider on this list, ranking first in 24 states. Progressive is frequently the second-largest insurer, with the largest market share in 15 states, following State Farm. Geico is the largest auto insurer in nine states, whereas Allstate and MAPFRE each operate in a single state. [13]

State Largest insurer
Alabama State Farm
Alaska State Farm
Arizona Geico
Arkansas State Farm
California State Farm

Source: ValuePenguin:

3. Home Insurance

a hand holding a home insurance form

There is no law mandating homeowners’ insurance. However, mortgage lenders demand the person with the mortgage get homeowner’s insurance before they can finance a house purchase.

Home insurance protects the mortgage lender’s investment by paying to fix or rebuild a home if it is damaged or destroyed by a fire, lightning, storm, tornado, or another covered disaster.

Homeowner’s insurance provides financial protection in the event that your home and/or valuables inside your home are damaged or stolen. There are two types of home insurance: building insurance, and the contents insurance.

Building insurance protects you against damage to your home’s structure, including the walls, roof, and flooring. It usually includes coverage for damage to fixtures and equipment. It’s not compulsory but is typically a requirement of your mortgage.  Whether or not you have a mortgage, this insurance should be a primary priority if you own your own home. [14]

Contents insurance on the other hand protects you against the loss or damage of personal belongings in the event of a fire, theft, flood, or similar events.

It protects your personal property, including anything that is not physically tied to the structure, against loss or damage. Contrary to building insurance, this is optional.  However, it is a good idea for both renters and homeowners to insure their belongings.

Largest Home Insurance Companies in the United States

The largest home insurance companies are also among the best. These companies have the highest ratings for financial stability, safeguarding homebuyers and homeowners against national disasters, dwelling coverage, and liability coverage. [14]

Largest Home Insurance Companies in the United States


Homeowners Insurance Company

Direct Premiums

Market Share

































*Data from national association of insurance commissioners accessed through

4. Life Insurance

chart of a life insurance

Life Insurance is a contract between an insurance policy holder and an insurance company in which the insurer promises to pay a sum of money in exchange for a premium, upon the death of an insured person or after a predefined timeframe. [15] Each life insurance policy is unique, as are the rules governing insurance plans in each state.

Largest Life Insurance Companies

Largest Life Insurance Companies









Northwestern Mutual Group





New York life Group





Metropolitan Group





Prudential of America





Mass Mutual Life Insurance Group





Lincoln National Group





State Farm





John Hancock Group





Guardian Life Group





Pacific Life Group




Source: National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)

Northwestern Mutual Group [16]

  • The Mutual Life Insurance Company of the State of Wisconsin was founded in 1857.
  • Life, health, and disability insurance, as well as financial, retirement, and estate planning services, are provided by the company.
  • Through its wealth management and investment services activities, the organization handles investments worth more than $161 billion that are owned by its clients.

New York Life Group

  • Life insurance, asset management, estate and retirement planning, and investment services are provided by the company. New York Life Insurance serves clients globally.
  • Founded in 1845
  • Headquarters: New York Life Building New York, U.S.

Metropolitan Group

  • Metropolitan Insurance Group Inc. is a provider of auto, home, life, and commercial insurance in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
  • The company was founded in 1933
  • Headquarters: 112 Higgins Road, Park Ridge, IL 60068

Prudential of America Group

  • Prudential Financial Inc. was founded in 1875.
  • It has subsidiaries that provide insurance, retirement planning, investment management, and other products and services to both retail and institutional customers throughout the United States and in over 40 other countries.
  • Headquarters: Prudential Plaza, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.

Mass Mutual Life Insurance Group

  • This company offers life insurance, retirement, and investments plans in the United States.
  • Founded in May 15, 1851
  • Headquarter: Springfield, Mass.

Lincoln National Group

  • The company offers life insurance, annuities, retirement plan services, and group protection with an emphasis on supporting, preserving, and enhancing the lifestyles and retirement outcomes of its clients.
  • Founded in June 12, 1905
  • Headquarters: Radnor, Pennsylvania, U.S.

State Farm

  • State Farm provides around one hundred products and services across five distinct business lines: property and liability, life and health, annuities, mutual funds, and banking products.
  • Founded in 1922
  • Headquarters: One State Farm Plaza, Bloomington, Illinois 61710

John Hancock Group

  • Clients have the option to select from a variety of life insurance options, including term insurance and a selection of riders that may be used to customize a policy.
  • Founded in 1862
  • Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Guardian Life Group

  • Guardian Life Group provides life insurance, disability insurance, dental insurance, and other benefits that help protect people and inspire their well-being.
  • Founded in 1860
  • Headquarters: New York, NY

Pacific Life Group

  • Offers an extensive life insurance and a range of annuities, including variable, fixed, fixed indexed, immediate and deferred income annuities.
  • Founded in 1868
  • Headquarters: Newport Beach, CA

According to 2021 NAIC data, Northwestern Mutual is the largest life insurance business, with nearly 9% of the market. Following closely after Northwestern Mutual are New York Life Group and Metropolitan Group, which hold 8.3% and 7.18% of the market share, respectively. [16]

The most obvious reason to choose a large insurance company is that they often have larger financial assets and, hence, achieve financial stability more easily.

The financial stability rating of a corporation is indicative of its historical capacity to pay out claims. As life insurance is regarded to be a financial product, selecting a company with a high financial strength score may bring peace of mind.

5. Renters Insurance

Renter’s insurance protects the personal property in a leased apartment, condo, or house against unforeseen occurrences, such as theft, a fire, or a sewage backup. It compensates you for lost or damaged belongings. Additionally, it can shield you from liability if someone is injured on your property.

What does renters insurance cover? [17]

A renter’s insurance policy provides coverage for the loss or destruction of your personal property due to perils such as:

  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Windstorm
  • Hail
  • A frozen plumbing system
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Impact by a vehicle

6. Umbrella Insurance

Umbrella insurance is additional protection that extends beyond the limitations and coverages of other policies. Coverage for injuries, property damage, some litigation, and personal responsibility scenarios can be provided through umbrella insurance.

Some liability claims, such as libel, slander, and false imprisonment, are not covered by standard liability insurance plans. And if you own rental property, umbrella insurance extends your renter’s policy’s liability protection.

7. Disability Insurance

a woman sitting on a wheelchair

Disability insurance is an insurance plan that pays a portion of a disabled person’s income while they are unable to work due to a sickness or injury. Short-term disability (STD) and long-term disability (LTD) are the two primary types of disability insurance (LTD). An STD might last up to two years. LTD typically develops after STD resolves and may last a lifetime.

Two Primary Types Of Disability Insurance

1. Long-term disability insurance- This type of policy, also known as LTD, is intended to run for many years, up to retirement age if necessary, replacing 40 to 60 percent of your income if you cannot work.

2. Short term disability insurance – This policy, also known as STD, is intended to replace your income for a much shorter duration than LTD – often a few months until you can return to work and nearly never more than a year.

The Top 25 Large-Group Disability Carriers In The US 

Employee Benefit Adviser, in collaboration with business intelligence data analytics firm miEdge, has compiled a ranking of the top 25 U.S. disability insurance providers. Both short-term and long-term group disability plan premiums are used to rank companies. [18]

The Top 10 Large-Group Disability Carriers In The US









Lincoln Financial Group








The Hartford








The Standard








Reliance Standard




Sun Life Financial




Mutual of Omaha
















The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company




Transamerica Life

Insurance Company




American Fidelity Assurance Company




Voya Financial




USAble Life








Health Care Service Corporation




Principal Financial Group








American United Life Insurance Company




The Union Labor Life Insurance Company




Companion Life Insurance Company




8. Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care (LTC) insurance covers nursing-home care, home-health care, and personal or adult day care for those 65 or older or with a chronic or disabling condition requiring constant monitoring. Long-term care insurance provides more options and flexibility than many public assistance programs. [19]

Top 10 LTC Companies – Long-Term Care Insurance Companies 

Top 10 LTC Companies – Long-Term Care Insurance Companies

According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, the top 10 LTC (long-term care insurance) companies cover over 73% of all covered lives. [20]

Company  Lives in Force       Market Share %
Genworth 1,167,238 22.09
John Hancock 893,317 16.90
Met Life 448,748 8.49
Continental Cas. 413,485 7.83
Northwestern Mutual 260,077 4.92
Transamerica 251,211 4.76
Prudential 211,771 4.01
Mutual of Omaha 200,391 3.79
New York Life 149,660 2.83
Bankers Life 131,981 2.51

20 Most Interesting, Weirdest, and Funniest Facts about Insurance

  1. Taco Bell once bought taco insurance. In 2001, when the Mir space station was set to crash somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean, Taco Bell pledged to give every American a free taco if the space station crashed inside a small defined area in the Pacific Ocean. [21] In the end, Mir missed the target. If it had, Taco Bell would have lost almost $280 million. The restaurant chain got a taco insurance policy to cover the dangers if Mir hit the target.
  2. In 1920, the practice of insuring body parts began. In 1920, silent film actor Ben Turpin purchased a $25,000 policy from Lloyd’s of London in case his signature crossed eyes ever uncrossed. [21]
  3. Gene Simmons insured his tongue for one million dollars. Gene Simmons, the bassist for the legendary 1970s rock band KISS, once had his tongue insured for $1,000,000. Simmons’ hallmark action — sticking out his tongue — suited the band’s trademark appearance, which consisted of black-and-white facial paint. [21]
  4. In 1971, Cutty Sark whiskey offered a reward of one million pounds ($2.4 million) to anyone who could capture the Loch Ness Monster. [21]
  5. In 1347, the first insurance contract was signed. Although insurance dates back to ancient civilizations, the first documented contract was made in Genoa, Italy, in 1347. [21]
  6. In the early 19th century, moviegoers feared dying from excessive laughter so much that they purchased insurance. [21]
  7. America Ferrera’s smile was insured for ten million dollars. [21]
  8. No insurance company will insure the productions of Jackie Chan. Jackie Chan, a famous Hong Kong actor known for his dangerous exploits, personally trains and pays for the medical expenses of his stunt performers. [21]
  9. Starbucks spends more on health insurance for employees than on coffee. [21]
  10. The Padres have signed the same player to a 23-year contract to prevent him from losing his health insurance. [21]
  11. The San Diego Padres had signed former left-handed pitcher Matt LaChappa to a minor league contract every year since 1996 when he suffered a heart attack while warming up for a game at the age of 20. [21] LaChappa still uses a wheelchair, and his Padres contract provides him with health insurance.
  12. The German supermodel Heidi Klum insured her legs for $2,200,000. A minor scar determined that one of Heidi’s legs was insured for more than the other, while the other was not. [22]
  13. The brilliant grin of actress Julia Robert has not missed notice. As one of the world’s fifty most beautiful persons, Julia insured her smile for $30,000,000. [22]
  14. Ugly Betty’s leading man, Aquafresh, America Ferrera’s sponsor, insured her teeth for $10,000,000. [22]
  15. David Beckham insured his legs for $151,00,000 during the height of his career. [22]
  16. Daniel Craig, the British actor who portrayed James Bond, insured his body for $7.7 million while filming Casino Royale in 2006, his first appearance as 007. [22]
  17. At $1.2 billion, Steven Spielberg has the world’s most expensive life insurance policy. [22]
  18. Did you know that Ben Turpin was the first client to get “exotic” insurance, establishing the trend? In the early part of the 20th century, he insured his eyes for $20,000. [23]
  19. Russian athletes in Nagano and World Youth Olympic Games competitors were insured by both domestic and international insurance organizations. [23]
  20. Kerry Mrs. Wellis, a South African actress, was required for filming “Star Treck” to undergo a shaved bald haircut and was insured against the possibility that her hair would not grow back. [23]


  1. Bogardus, J.A. June 2007 In the Beginning: Managing Risks,underpinning%20for%20marine%20insurance%20contracts.
  2. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “bottomry“. Encyclopedia Britannica, 12 Apr. 2018, Accessed 22 August 2022.
  3. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Historical Development of Insurance“. Encyclopedia Britannica, 19 Apr. 2022,
  4. Tucker H., Forbes May 12, 2022
  5. Max Life Insurance.Types of Insurance. Retrieve from
  6. Townsend, R. ValuePenguin Largest Health Insurance Companies of 2022. Retrieved from
  7. Aetna Aetna Facts. Retrieved from
  8. Cigna. Cigna Reports Strong First Quarter 2022 Results, Raises 2022 Outlook. Retrieved from,-Raises-2022-Outlook#:~:text=The%20total%20medical%20customer%20base,divestiture%20of%20the%20Medicaid%20business.
  9. Humana. 97% of Humana’s Medicare Advantage Members Are in Contracts Rated 4-Star or Higher for 2022… Retrieved from
  10. Insurance Information Institute. What is auto insurance? Retrieved from
  11. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “motor vehicle insurance“. Encyclopedia Britannica, 30 Sep. 2021, Accessed 23 August 2022.
  12. McKenna, R. 10 Largest Auto Insurance Companies (August 2022). Retrieved from
  13. Money Helper. What is home insurance and how do I get a good deal? Retrieved from


  1. Icici Prudential Life Insurance. What is Life Insurance? Retrieved from
  2. Investopia. 8 Biggest Life Insurance Companies. Retrieved from
  3. Nationwide. What is renters insurance? Retrieved from
  4. EBN. The top 25 large-group disability carriers in the US. Retrieved from
  5. Investopia. Kagan, J. Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance. Retrieved from
  6. AALTCI. Top 10 LTC Companies – Long-Term Care Insurance Companies. Retrived from
  7. Brown and Joseph. 13 Interesting Insurance Facts. Retrieved from
  8. Buy Any Inusrance. Celebrities insure their famous talents and body parts Retrieved from
  9. Kafolat. Interesting facts about insurance. Retrieved from


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