This article examines Stapleton's view that insurance has lacked influence and been no more than a ‘makeweight’ argument in the development of tort liability. Looking at the wider context, the article describes the overwhelming importance of insurers to the litigation system and argues that all cases are affected by insurance practice. It distinguishes the effect of insurance upon judicial fact finding, on the one hand, and the development of common law rules, on the other. It examines the ability of insurers to influence legislation relevant to the tort system. It concludes that, if account is taken of all these areas, insurance has been of vital importance to the law of tort. Without it, the system of personal injury compensation would not have survived. This conclusion is reached even though insurance is largely ignored by the great majority of tort texts.