Contingency – Concept, types, examples and contingency plan

We explain what a contingency is, its types, examples and differences with necessity and possibility. Also, what is a contingency plan.

A contingency is something that can happen but is not necessarily foreseeable.

What is a contingency?

When we speak of a contingency, in general, we refer to the possibility of something happening, that is, to the possibility of something happening, or not happening. It is a very commonly used term in areas such as prevention and insurance, in which it is also used as a synonym for risk.

The word contingency comes from Latin, from the voices with- (prefix denoting joint or convergence), the verb tangere (“Touch”) and -entia (suffix indicating quality of agent). In Latin, the verb contingere It can be translated as “happen”, “concern” or “concern”. However, the general meaning that the term has in our language is that which comes from logic, a discipline that understands it as “what may or may not be, depending on the case”.

Formally, the logic differentiates between:

  • Need: What is necessary is what, given certain circumstances, happens in all cases.
  • Possibility: What is possible is what is feasible to become reality.
  • Contingency: The contingent is what may or may not be, if the conditions of one thing or the other come to be.

In this way, everything that is contingent is at the same time possible (since there is the possibility of it becoming), but not everything possible is contingent, since everything necessary is possible, but not contingent (since it could not become). The impossible, for its part, is neither contingent nor necessary. A tongue twister.

In any case, we are talking about a key concept for certain formal philosophical debates, and that throughout history has accompanied the human being in his notions of destiny, necessity and divine will.

Examples of contingency

In general, anything can serve as an example of a contingency, as long as it is something that is or is not possible to materialize: something that may or may not happen, depending on whether the conditions are met or not.

For example, an insured car can reach have an accident and suffer damages that require arrangements, if the conditions are met: that the driver is driving drunk, or that the drunk is another driver who hits him, that is, that he is at the precise moment to receive the blow. There is no way to predict that, so it is something that may or may not happen.

Types of contingency

From the point of view of insurance companies and risk prevention companies, contingencies are precisely the risks, the things that may happen and force them to invest money. For this reason, they are understood according to three possible types, based on the type of damage they cause and that the company must cover:

  • Mild or minor. Those that cause the least amount of damage and therefore require minor repairs. Therefore, it has an impact on daily operation and can be recovered in less than 8 hours.
  • Severe or severe. Those that cause more severe damage, and that merit more significant investments. In general, its consequences can be recovered in 24 hours.
  • Critical or catastrophic. Those that cause damage of great severity and enormous impact. Its consequences are not repairable in the short term.

Contingency plan

A contingency plan is known as a planning of technical, human and organizational measures designed to deal with some kind of inconvenience, accident or unforeseen, that is, with some kind of contingency.

There are different types of contingency plans, depending on the assets to be safeguarded or on what is considered a priority. They can be, for example, backup plans (especially in computing), emergency plans or recovery plans.