n SA Mercantile Law Journal = SA Tydskrif vir Handelsreg - The nature of life insurance contracts : a matter of death life

Volume 19, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1015-0099
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2185



Despite their usefulness, generalisations are often misleading and, at times, simply wrong. That applies particularly to legal matters and therefore also to the topic of this analysis, namely life insurance contracts. For regulatory, descriptive and even definitional purposes, generalisations about the nature of life insurance are commonplace. They are especially relied on when it is sought to distinguish life insurance from other forms of (non-life) insurance, a distinction once regarded as so fundamental that the distinguishable term 'assurance' was used for life insurances. (In (1959) 102 CLR 29 (HC, Aus) at 43, it was explained, though, that '[i]t is conventional to use "assurance" in connexion with life contracts and "insurance" in connexion with marine, fire and other insurances; and this it has been suggested helps to point [out] some of the essential differences between them. But it is a usage which can become pedantic, and which has had no uniform observance'. This lack of uniformity is apparent in that the terms 'assurance' and 'assured' have also been employed in connection with marine insurance : see, eg, the Marine Insurance Act 1906 (6 Edw VII, c 41) which refers throughout to the 'assured'.)

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