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The insurance contract is a contract whereby the insurer will pay the insured (the person whom benefits would be paid to, or on the behalf of), if certain defined events occur. Subject to the "fortuity principle", the event must be uncertain. The uncertainty can be either as to when the event will happen (i.e. in a life insurance policy, the time of the insured's death is uncertain) or as to if it will happen at all (i.e. a fire insurance policy).

The insurance policy is a contract between the insurer and the insured, known as the policyholder, which determines the claims which the insurer is legally required to pay. In exchange for payment, known as the premium, the insurer pays for damages to the insured which are caused by covered perils under the policy language. Insurance contracts are designed to meet specific needs and thus have many features not found in many other types of contracts.