Insurance is a lot like the Force in Star Wars. It’s part of everything, but it’s invisible, and those who know most about it are from other generations.

OK, that last part is becoming less and less true. But the fact of the matter is, too many people don’t realize just how much of the world runs on insurance.

Insurance influences everything, from why fraternities can have keg parties and sororities can’t, to why you’ll probably get your money back if you lose your debit card and the person who finds it purchases items with it.

Insurance protects us from the everyday risks of life and facilitates the exciting, mind-blowing inventions and ideas from the smartest minds in the world.

Here’s a closer look at five ways insurance makes the world a better place.

icon - atom1. Enables big ideas

Insurance gives big thinkers the power to think even bigger. Taking risks that can change the world is easier if you know you have a bit of a safety net. Insurance provides that safety net in nearly every industry, from constructing skyscrapers in Dubai to planning epic movie set pieces.

That hasn’t always been the case. "In pre-modern times, when starvation was common, and there was little social insurance outside your clan, every individual bore the risk of any new idea,” explains a 2014 New York Times piece. “As a result, risks simply weren't worth taking. If a clever idea for a crop rotation failed or an enhanced plow was ineffective, a farmer's family might not get enough to eat. Children might die.”

Insurance strips away some of that every-man-for-himself mentality and creates opportunities for people who are eager to change the world.

Plus, there are all of the big ideas coming out of the insurance industry itself. Insurers are collecting data from millions of people through their cars, Fitbits and thermostats (plus countless other places), and industry innovators are putting that information to good use. Look no further than Progressive Insurance’s Business Innovation Garage, which has conducted hundreds of “experiments” in the past few years aimed at improving how insurance works and how businesses operate.

icon - house2. Protects from big bills

We all face risk in our everyday lives, and that risk can be pretty tough to quantify. Enter one of the most misunderstood aspects of insurance — the deductible. Deductibles put an exact value on many of the risks we see every day.

It’s impossible to predict when a car accident will happen or how much damage will be done. But with a deductible, somebody with insurance knows he or she will only be on the hook for $250 or $500, depending on the coverage.

Just like with the innovative ideas, insurance gives individuals and families a safety net and a way to prepare — and pay — for the unexpected.

icon - person seated in the lotus position3. Provides peace of mind

Insurance pros, especially in claims and customer service, often take calls from people who are having the worst day of their lives and try to make that day a little bit better.

People call to report car accidents, damaged homes, even the death of a loved one, and they’re not sure what to do next. Insurance reps provide a steadying voice that’s able to spell out exact next steps.

In the wake of a tragedy, the value this peace of mind offers goes through the roof. But the comfort in knowing you’re covered is there all the time.

icon - slider controls4. Shifts society’s risk mindset

We take some pretty dumb risks as a society. Case in point: we only stopped putting actual flaming candles on our Christmas trees about 100 years ago. And guess what? Insurance companies are what put a stop to it. Sure, they were criticized at the time, but they also prevented countless fires across the country.

Today, insurance is helping rid society of many risks by charging people more when they engage in obviously risky behavior, from smoking to not wearing a seatbelt. It’s tough to put a price on the benefits of these shifts in risk appetite, but it’s safe to say that insurance companies have saved lives by helping to drive these changes.

icon - two hands receive a bowl5. Helps those with greater needs

The insurance industry, and the 2.6 million people who work in it, does a lot of good beyond its policies and coverages.

Here’s just one example: The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation has donated $25.3 million in local community grants and more than 218,000 hours of volunteer service since it was formed in 1994.

Then there’s microinsurance — coverage focused on protecting people in the developing world who live on less than $4 a day. Insurance organizations provide coverage for crop or livestock issues, illnesses and disease, and natural disasters, and new technologies are making these strategies more effective every day. It’s an exciting area, where companies are making money helping protect the people who need it most. Even the United Nations has taken notice.

If you’re interested in a career that makes a difference, learn more about the different career roles in the insurance industry.