Options are attractive to the private trader due to their special advantages. By buying options, you are given the opportunity to participating in the market with limited known risk. Besides, the capital that you need to invest is just a small fraction of the price of the underlying shares. Option buyer need to pay a premium when buying options, which is very much less than the stock prices.
For those who are not familiar how actually options work, it may be a little bit confusing in the beginning. Options actually share a lot of same characteristics like insurance policies, which most people should be able to understand. We will get a clearer picture of how literally options work by checking through the features that options and insurance policies have.
For an insurance policy, the policy is actually a contract between the purchaser and the underwriter of the insurance policy. Underwriter of the insurance policy is the company, whose sells the policy. Whereas; option is a contract between the option buyer and seller when there is an initial transaction taking place. Stated in the contract, option buyer has the right to buy an amount of stock from the seller at an agree price within a specific period of time; whereas, seller has to obligate to sell an amount of stock to the buyer at an agree price within a specific period of time. This agreed price is called strike price.
For insurance policy, purchaser pays a premium to the insurance underwriter. The probability payout is influenced by a number of factors, which the premium is dependent. Premium will be charged higher if the risk payout is higher. Whereas for option; purchaser of the option contract pays premium to the writer of the option. A number of factors, which will affect the overall likelihood of a particular stock price being reached, will also affect the amount that needed to be paid as a premium. When the premium for the option is higher, the likelihood of a stock price can reached also higher.
In term of time period, the validity of the insurance policy is within a specific length of time. The passing of time works in favour to the insurance underwriter but against to the purchaser of the insurance policy. For option, it works exactly same as the insurance policy, that is option contract is valid within a specific length of time. When the time passes, it does not favour to the option buyer but favour to option writer.
Upfront is the risk for the purchaser of the insurance contract. The policy is paid by the premium. The insurance underwriter risk is open-ended depending on the terms that are insured. In options trading, the options buyer risk is also known as upfront. The option is paid by the premium. Here are the differences between insurance policy and the option. The option buyer can gain more than premium that he or she has paid for the option but not less than the premium. On the other hand, option writer has open-ended risk potential, which may cause unlimited loss.
In term of payout, if there is any event that has been stated in the insurance policy has occurred, the payout from the insurance company will be a lot more than the original premium paid. If the market direction favours the option buyer, then he or she has unlimited profit potential. The option buyer may make a lot of money, which is many times more than the premium that he or she has been paid.