Acts of God and ManRuminations on Risk and Insurance

Acts of God and ManRuminations on Risk and Insurance

Michael Powers

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780231153676

Publisher: Columbia University Press


This book examines traditional insurance risks such as earthquakes, storms, terrorist attacks, and other disasters. It begins with a discussion of how the risk of such “acts of God and men” impact on our lives, health, and possessions. It then proceeds to introduce the statistical techniques necessary for analyzing these uncertainties. It explains that quantifying the risks that such disasters pose is difficult but that it is crucial for achieving the financing objectives of insurance. The book guides readers through the methods available for identifying and measuring such risks, financing their consequences, and forecasting their future behaviour (within the limits of science). It also considers the experience of risk from the perspectives of both policyholders and insurance companies, and compares their respective responses. The discussion of the risks inherent in the private insurance industry leads to a discussion of the government's role as both market regulator and potential “insurer of last resort.” The book concludes with an interdisciplinary investigation into the nature of uncertainty, incorporating ideas from physics, philosophy, and game theory to assess science's limitations in predicting the ramifications of risk.