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Hollywood icon Betty Grable had her legs insured for $1 million each during her heyday in the 1940s. Legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has his middle guitar finger insured for more than $1.5 million. Most people don't have such highly appraised body parts, but these exceptions prove the rule: If it's valuable and its loss would cause harm to one's livelihood or enjoyment of life, it probably can be insured. For most of us, this is limited to homes, automobiles, health, and the lives of loved ones. Understanding which kinds of insurance you need and how to make sense of your policy will help you make smarter decisions. FindLaw's Insurance section covers a wide range of insurance-related topics, including summaries of the various types of policies, how to file a claim, your legal options when things go wrong, and more.

Do You Need Insurance?

In many cases you may be required to purchase insurance. Title insurance is generally required by mortgage lenders, while nearly every state requires motorists to have a minimum amount of liability insurance. If you're a physician or an attorney, you'll need to have liability insurance to protect against the cost of a potential malpractice suit. Most employers, meanwhile, are required to carry workers' compensation insurance to cover the work-related injuries and illnesses of employees.

But a lot of insurance policies are voluntary. If you live in an area of the country that is prone to earthquakes, for instance, you might consider getting earthquake insurance. Some pet owners, particularly those with special needs animals, may consider taking out a pet insurance policy. A farmer, whose livelihood depends on the seasonal health of vulnerable assets, may purchase crop insurance.

As you can see, which type (and how much) insurance you purchase really depends on what you have to lose, the likelihood of such an event happening, and what effect it would have on your finances.

Types of Insurance

As discussed above, just about anything may be insured. It has to be considered an "insurable interest," which exists when you derive a benefit (financial or otherwise) from the continuous existence of the insured item. The lives of family members and loved ones also may be insured, with a payout available to the policyholder upon their death.

Other types of insurance, some of them supplementary to broader policies, include the following:

  • Renters insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Flood insurance
  • Boat insurance
  • Credit insurance

Insurance Bad Faith

In the context of insurance, "bad faith" can refer either to misleading tactics used by insurance companies to defraud unsuspecting policyholders or insurance claims filed in bad faith (such as insurance fraud). In either case, one of the two parties is not living up to its legal obligations to the other. For instance, if a health insurer balks at an expensive but ultimately crucial (and covered) medical procedure, the policyholder may pursue an insurance bad faith tort claim against the insurer.

Learn more about insurance, including state-by-state insurance laws, how to understand your insurance policy, and the insurance claims process by clicking on a link below.