- A Glossary of Terms commonly used in the Insurance Industry.
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- ACCELERATED DEATH BENEFITS
A life insurance policy option that provides policy proceeds to insured individuals over their lifetimes, in the event of a terminal illness. This is in lieu of a traditional policy that pays beneficiaries after the insured’s death. Such benefits kick in if the insured becomes terminally ill, needs extreme medical intervention, or must reside in a nursing home. The payments made while the insured is living are deducted from any death benefits paid to beneficiaries.
- ACCIDENT AND HEALTH INSURANCE
Coverage for accidental injury, accidental death, and related health expenses. Benefits will pay for preventative services, medical expenses and catastrophic care, with limits.
- ACTUAL CASH VALUE
A form of insurance that pays damages equal to the replacement value of damaged property minus depreciation.
An insurance professional skilled in the analysis, evaluation and management of statistical information. Evaluates insurance firms’ reserves, determines rates and rating methods, and determines other business and financial risks.
- ADDITIONAL LIVING EXPENSES
Extra charges covered by homeowners policies over and above the policyholder’s customary living expenses. They kick in when the insured requires temporary shelter due to damage by a covered peril that makes the home temporarily uninhabitable.
An individual employed by a property/casualty insurer to evaluate losses and settle policyholder claims. These adjusters differ from public adjusters, who negotiate with insurers on behalf of policyholders, and receive a portion of a claims settlement. Independent adjusters are independent contractors who adjust claims for different insurance companies.
- ADVERSE SELECTION
The tendency of those exposed to a higher risk to seek more insurance coverage than those at a lower risk. Insurers react either by charging higher premiums or not insuring at all, as in the case of floods. (Flood insurance is provided by the federal government but sold mostly through the private market.) In the case of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, adverse selection concentrates risk instead of spreading it. Insurance works best when risk is shared among large numbers of policyholders.
Insurance is sold by two types of agents: independent agents, who are self-employed, represent several insurance companies and are paid on commission; and exclusive or captive agents, who represent only one insurance company and are either salaried or work on commission. Insurance companies that use exclusive or captive agents are called direct writers.
- ALLIED LINES
Property insurance that is usually bought in conjunction with fire insurance; it includes wind, water damage and vandalism coverage.
- ANTITRUST LAWS
Laws that prohibit companies from working as a group to set prices, restrict supplies or stop competition in the marketplace. The insurance industry is subject to state antitrust laws but has a limited exemption from federal antitrust laws. This exemption, set out in the McCarran- Ferguson Act, permits insurers to jointly develop common insurance forms and share loss data to help them price policies.
The dividing of a loss proportionately among two or more insurers that cover the same loss.
Procedure in which an insurance company and the insured or a vendor agree to settle a claim dispute by accepting a decision made by a third party.
- ASSIGNED RISK PLANS
Facilities through which drivers can obtain auto insurance if they are unable to buy it in the regular or voluntary market. These are the most well-known type of residual auto insurance market, which exist in every state. In an assigned risk plan, all insurers selling auto insurance in the state are assigned these drivers to insure, based on the amount of insurance they sell in the regular market. (See Residual market )
- AUTO INSURANCE POLICY
There are basically six different types of coverages. Some may be required by law. Others are optional. They are:
- Bodily injury liability, for injuries the policyholder causes to someone else.
- Medical payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) for treatment of injuries to the driver and passengers of the policyholder’s car.
- Property damage liability, for damage the policyholder causes to someone else’s property.
- Collision, for damage to the policyholder’s car from a collision.
- Comprehensive, for damage to the policyholder’s car not involving a collision with another car (including damage from fire, explosions, earthquakes, floods, and riots), and theft.
- Uninsured motorists coverage, for costs resulting from an accident involving a hit-and-run driver or a driver who does not have insurance.
- AUTO INSURANCE PREMIUM
The price an insurance company charges for coverage, based on the frequency and cost of potential accidents, theft and other losses. Prices vary from company to company, as with any product or service.
Premiums also vary depending on the amount and type of coverage purchased; the make and model of the car; and the insured’s driving record, years of driving and the number of miles the car is driven per year. Other factors taken into account include the driver’s age and gender, where the car is most likely to be driven and the times of day—rush hour in an urban neighborhood or leisure time driving in rural areas, for example. Some insurance companies may also use credit history related information. (See Insurance score )
- AVIATION INSURANCE
Commercial airlines hold property insurance on airplanes and liability insurance for negligent acts that result in injury or property damage to passengers or others. Damage is covered on the ground and in the air. The policy limits the geographical area and individual pilots covered.
- BEACH AND WINDSTORM PLANS
State-sponsored insurance pools that sell property coverage for the peril of windstorm to people unable to buy it in the voluntary market because of their high exposure to risk. Seven states (AL, FL, LA, MS, NC, SC, TX) offer these plans to cover residential and commercial properties against hurricanes and other windstorms. Georgia and New York provide this kind of coverage for windstorm and hail in certain coastal communities through other property pools. Insurance companies that sell property insurance in the state are required to participate in these plans. Insurers share in profits and losses. (See Fair access to insurance requirements plans / FAIR plans, Residual market )
- BLANKET INSURANCE
Coverage for more than one type of property at one location or one type of property at more than one location. Example: chain store
- BODILY INJURY LIABILITY COVERAGE
Portion of an auto insurance policy that covers injuries the policyholder causes to someone else.
- BOILER AND MACHINERY INSURANCE
Often called Equipment Breakdown, or Systems Breakdown insurance. Commercial insurance that covers damage caused by the malfunction or breakdown of boilers, and a vast array of other equipment including air conditioners, heating, electrical, telephone and computer systems.
An intermediary between a customer and an insurance company. Brokers typically search the market for coverage appropriate to their clients. They work on commission and usually sell commercial, not personal, insurance. In life insurance, agents must be licensed as securities brokers/dealers to sell variable annuities, which are similar to stock market-based investments.
- BURGLARY AND THEFT INSURANCE
Insurance for the loss of property due to burglary, robbery or larceny. It is provided in a standard homeowners policy and in a business multiple peril policy.
- BUSINESS INCOME AND EXTRA EXPENSE INSURANCE (also known as BUSINESS INTERRUPTION INSURANCE)
Commercial coverage that reimburses a business owner for lost profits and continuing fixed expenses during the time that a business must stay closed while the premises are being restored because of physical damage from a covered peril, such as a fire. It also may cover financial losses that may occur if civil authorities limit access to an area after a disaster and their actions prevent customers from reaching the business premises. Depending on the policy, civil authorities coverage may start after a waiting period and last for two or more weeks.
- BUSINESSOWNERS POLICY / BOP
A policy that combines property, liability and business interruption coverages for small- to medium-sized businesses. Coverage is generally cheaper than if purchased through separate insurance policies.
- CAPTIVE AGENT
A person who represents only one insurance company and is restricted by agreement from submitting business to any other company, unless it is first rejected by the agent’s captive company. (See Exclusive agent )
Insurers that are created and wholly owned by one or more non-insurers, to provide owners with coverage. A form of self-insurance.
A system of coordinating medical services to treat a patient, improve care and reduce cost. A case manager coordinates health care delivery for patients.
Term used for statistical recording purposes to refer to a single incident or a series of closely related incidents causing severe insured property losses totaling more than a given amount, currently $25 million
- CATASTROPHE DEDUCTIBLE
A percentage or dollar amount that a homeowner must pay before the insurance policy kicks in when a major natural disaster occurs. These large deductibles limit an insurer’s potential losses in such cases, allowing it to insure more property. A property insurer may not be able to buy reinsurance to protect its own bottom line unless it keeps its potential maximum losses under a certain level.
- CATASTROPHE FACTOR
Probability of catastrophic loss, based on the total number of catastrophes in a state over a 40-year period.
- CATASTROPHE MODEL
Using computers, a method to mesh long-term disaster information with current demographic, building and other data to determine the potential cost of natural disasters and other catastrophic losses for a given geographic area.
- CATASTROPHE REINSURANCE
Reinsurance for catastrophic losses. The insurance industry is able to absorb the multibillion dollar losses caused by natural and man-made disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and terrorist attacks because losses are spread among thousands of companies including catastrophe reinsurers who operate on a global basis. Insurers’ ability and willingness to sell insurance fluctuates with the availability and cost of catastrophe reinsurance. After major disasters, such as Hurricane Andrew and the World Trade Center terrorist attack, the availability of catastrophe reinsurance becomes extremely limited. Claims deplete reinsurers’ capital and, as a result, companies are more selective in the type and amount of risks they assume. In addition, with available supply limited, prices for reinsurance rise. This contributes to an overall increase in prices for property insurance.
- CELL PHONE INSURANCE
Separate insurance provided to cover cellphones for damage or theft. Policies are often sold with the cellphones themselves.
- CLAIMS MADE POLICY
A form of insurance that pays claims presented to the insurer during the term of the policy or within a specific term after its expiration. It limits liability insurers’ exposure to unknown future liabilities. (See Occurrence policy )
Short for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. A federal law under which group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees must offer continuation of coverage to employees who leave their jobs and their dependents. The employee must pay the entire premium. Coverage can be extended up to 18 months. Surviving dependents can receive longer coverage.
In property insurance, requires the policyholder to carry insurance equal to a specified percentage of the value of property to receive full payment on a loss. For health insurance, it is a percentage of each claim above the deductible paid by the policyholder. For a 20 percent health insurance coinsurance clause, the policyholder pays for the deductible plus 20 percent of his covered losses. After paying 80 percent of losses up to a specified ceiling, the insurer starts paying 100 percent of losses.
Property that is offered to secure a loan or other credit and that becomes subject to seizure on default. Also called security.
- COLLISION COVERAGE
Portion of an auto insurance policy that covers the damage to the policyholder’s car from a collision.
- COMMERCIAL AUTO INSURANCE
Protects against costs associated with injuries or property damage suffered by others in an accident caused by an owner/employee driving an insured commercial vehicle.
- COMMERCIAL GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE / CGL
A broad commercial policy that covers all liability exposures of a business that are not specifically excluded. Coverage includes product liability, completed operations, premises and operations, and independent contractors.
- COMMERCIAL LINES
Products designed for and bought by businesses. Among the major coverages are boiler and machinery, business income, commercial auto, comprehensive general liability, directors and officers liability, fire and allied lines, inland marine, medical malpractice liability, product liability, professional liability, surety and fidelity, and workers compensation. Most of these commercial coverages can be purchased separately except business income, which must be added to a fire insurance (property) policy. (See Commercial multiple peril policy )
- COMMERCIAL MULTIPLE PERIL POLICY
Package policy that includes property, boiler and machinery, crime and general liability coverages.
Fee paid to an agent or insurance salesperson as a percentage of the policy premium. The percentage varies widely depending on coverage, the insurer, and the marketing methods.
- COMMUNITY RATING LAWS
Enacted in several states on health insurance policies. Insurers are required to accept all applicants for coverage and charge all applicants the same premium for the same coverage regardless of age or health. Premiums are based on the rate determined by the geographic region’s health and demographic profile.
- COMPETITIVE STATE FUND
A facility established by a state to sell workers compensation in competition with private insurers.
Pays for bodily injury or property damage caused by a completed project or job. Protects a business that sells a service against liability claims.
- COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE
Portion of an auto insurance policy that covers damage to the policyholder’s car not involving a collision with another car (including damage from fire, explosions, earthquakes, floods and riots), and theft.
- COMPULSORY AUTO INSURANCE
The minimum amount of auto liability insurance that meets a state law. Financial responsibility laws in every state require all automobile drivers to show proof, after an accident, of their ability to pay damages up to the state minimum. In compulsory liability states this proof, which is usually in the form of an insurance policy, is required before you can legally drive a car.
- CONTINGENT LIABILITY
Liability of individuals, corporations, or partnerships for accidents caused by people other than employees for whose acts or omissions the corporations or partnerships are responsible.
Commercial coverage against losses resulting from the failure of business debtors to pay their obligation to the insured, usually due to insolvency. The coverage is geared to manufacturers, wholesalers and service providers who may be dependent on a few accounts and therefore could lose significant income in the event of an insolvency.
- CREDIT LIFE INSURANCE
Life insurance coverage on a borrower designed to repay the balance of a loan in the event the borrower dies before the loan is repaid. It may also include disablement and can be offered as an option in connection with credit cards and auto loans.
The number produced by an analysis of an individual’s credit history. The use of credit information affects all consumers in many ways, including getting a job, finding a place to live, securing a loan, getting telephone service and buying insurance. Credit history is routinely reviewed by insurers before issuing a commercial policy because businesses in poor financial condition tend to cut back on safety, which can lead to more accidents and more claims. Auto and home insurers may use information in a credit history to produce an insurance score. Insurance scores may be used in underwriting and rating insurance policies. (See Insurance score )
- CROP-HAIL INSURANCE
Protection against damage to growing crops from hail, fire or lightning provided by the private market. By contrast, multiple peril crop insurance covers a wider range of yield reducing conditions, such as drought and insect infestation, and is subsidized by the federal government.
Part of a property or liability insurance policy that states the name and address of policyholder, property insured, its location and description, the policy period, premiums and supplemental information. Referred to as the “dec page.”
The amount of loss paid by the policyholder. Either a specified dollar amount, a percentage of the claim amount, or a specified amount of time that must elapse before benefits are paid. The bigger the deductible, the lower the premium charged for the same coverage.
A retirement plan under which pension benefits are fixed in advance by a formula based generally on years of service to the company multiplied by a specific percentage of wages, usually average earnings over that period or highest average earnings over the final years with the company.
- DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PLAN
An employee benefit plan under which the employer sets up benefit accounts and contributions are made to it by the employer and by the employee. The employer usually matches the employee’s contribution up to a stated limit.
The decrease in value of any property due to wear, tear, and/or time. Generally, depreciation is not an insurable loss.
In insurance, reducing regulatory control over insurance rates and forms. Commercial insurance for businesses of a certain size has been deregulated in many states.
Policy designed to fill in gaps in a business’s commercial property insurance coverage. There is no standard policy. Policies are specifically tailored to the policyholder’s needs.
- DIMINUTION OF VALUE
The idea that a vehicle loses value after it has been damaged in an accident and repaired.
- DIRECT PREMIUMS
Property/casualty premiums collected by the insurer from policyholders, before reinsurance premiums are deducted. Insurers share some direct premiums and the risk involved with their reinsurers.
Directors and officers liability insurance (D&O) covers directors and officers of a company for negligent acts or omissions and for misleading statements that result in suits against the company. There are a variety of D&O coverages. Corporate reimbursement coverage indemnifies directors and officers of the organization. Side-A coverage provides D&O coverage for personal liability when directors and officers are not indemnified by the firm. Entity coverage, for claims made specifically against the company, is also available. D&O policies may be broadened to include coverage for employment practices liability.
The portion of premium that applies to the expired part of the policy period. Insurance premiums are payable in advance but the insurance company does not fully earn them until the policy period expires.
- EARTHQUAKE INSURANCE
Covers a building and its contents, but includes a large percentage deductible on each. A special policy or endorsement exists because earthquakes are not covered by standard homeowners or most business policies.
- ECONOMIC LOSS
Total financial loss resulting from the death or disability of a wage earner, or from the destruction of property. Includes the loss of earnings, medical expenses, funeral expenses, the cost of restoring or replacing property and legal expenses. It does not include noneconomic losses, such as pain caused by an injury.
- ELIMINATION PERIOD
A kind of deductible or waiting period usually found in disability policies. It is counted in days from the beginning of the illness or injury.
- EMPLOYEE DISHONESTY COVERAGE
Covers direct losses and damage to businesses resulting from the dishonest acts of employees.
- EMPLOYER’S LIABILITY
Part B of the workers compensation policy that provides coverage for lawsuits filed by injured employees who, under certain circumstances, can sue under common law. (See Exclusive remedy )
- EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES LIABILITY COVERAGE
Liability insurance for employers that covers wrongful termination, discrimination and other violations of employees’ legal rights.
A written form attached to an insurance policy that alters the policy’s coverage, terms, or conditions. Sometimes called a rider.
- ENVIRONMENTAL IMPAIRMENT LIABILITY COVERAGE
A form of insurance designed to cover losses and liabilities arising from damage to property caused by pollution.
- ERRORS AND OMISSIONS COVERAGE / E&O
A professional liability policy covering the policyholder for negligent acts and omissions that may harm his or her clients.
- ESCROW ACCOUNT
Funds that a lender collects to pay monthly premiums in mortgage and homeowners insurance, and sometimes to pay property taxes.
- EXCESS AND SURPLUS LINES
Property/casualty coverage that isn’t available from insurers licensed by the state (called admitted insurers) and must be purchased from a nonadmitted carrier.
- EXCESS WORKER COMPENSATION
Excess workers compensation, a coverage geared to employers that self-insure for workers comp, comes into play when claims exceed a designated dollar amount.
A provision in an insurance policy that eliminates coverage for certain risks, people, property classes, or locations.
- EXCLUSIVE AGENT
A captive agent, or a person who represents only one insurance company and is restricted by agreement from submitting business to any other company unless it is first rejected by the agent’s company. (See Captive agent )
- EXCLUSIVE REMEDY
Part of the social contract that forms the basis for workers compensation statutes under which employers are responsible for work-related injury and disease, regardless of whether it was the employee’s fault and in return the injured employee gives up the right to sue when the employer’s negligence causes the harm.
- EXPENSE RATIO
Percentage of each premium dollar that goes to insurers’ expenses including overhead, marketing and commissions.
- EXTENDED COVERAGE
An endorsement added to an insurance policy, or clause within a policy, that provides additional coverage for risks other than those in a basic policy.
- EXTENDED REPLACEMENT COST COVERAGE
Pays a certain amount above the policy limit to replace a damaged home, generally 120 percent or 125 percent. Similar to a guaranteed replacement cost policy, which has no percentage limits. Most homeowner policy limits track inflation in building costs. Guaranteed and extended replacement cost policies are designed to protect the policyholder after a major disaster when the high demand for building contractors and materials can push up the normal cost of reconstruction. (See Guaranteed replacement cost coverage )
- FARMOWNERS-RANCHOWNERS INSURANCE
Package policy that protects the policyholder against named perils and liabilities and usually covers homes and their contents, along with barns, stables and other structures.
- FEDERAL INSURANCE ADMINISTRATION / FIA
Federal agency in charge of administering the National Flood Insurance Program. It does not regulate the insurance industry.
- FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY LAW
A state law requiring that all automobile drivers show proof that they can pay damages up to a minimum amount if involved in an auto accident. Varies from state to state but can be met by carrying a minimum amount of auto liability insurance. (See Compulsory auto insurance )
- FIRE INSURANCE
- FIRST-PARTY COVERAGE
Coverage for the policyholder’s own property or person. In no-fault auto insurance it pays for the cost of injuries. In no-fault states with the broadest coverage, the personal injury protection (PIP) part of the policy pays for medical care, lost income, funeral expenses and, where the injured person is not able to provide services such as child care, for substitute services. (See No-fault, Third-party coverage )
Attached to a homeowners policy, a floater insures movable property, covering losses wherever they may occur. Among the items often insured with a floater are expensive jewelry, musical instruments and furs. It provides broader coverage than a regular homeowners policy for these items.
- FLOOD INSURANCE
Coverage for flood damage is available from the federal government under the National Flood Insurance Program but is sold by licensed insurance agents. Flood coverage is excluded under homeowners policies and many commercial property policies. However, flood damage is covered under the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy. (See Adverse selection )
- FORCED PLACE INSURANCE
Insurance purchased by a bank or creditor on an uninsured debtor’s behalf so if the property is damaged, funding is available to repair it.
Intentional lying or concealment by policyholders to obtain payment of an insurance claim that would otherwise not be paid, or lying or misrepresentation by the insurance company managers, employees, agents and brokers for financial gain.
Number of times a loss occurs. One of the criteria used in calculating premium rates.
- GAP INSURANCE
An automobile insurance option, available in some states, that covers the difference between a car’s actual cash value when it is stolen or wrecked and the amount the consumer owes the leasing or finance company. Mainly used for leased cars. (See Actual cash value )
Auto crash parts produced by firms that are not associated with car manufacturers. Insurers consider these parts, when certified, at least as good as those that come from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). They are often cheaper than the identical part produced by the OEM.
- GLASS INSURANCE
Coverage for glass breakage caused by all risks; fire and war are sometimes excluded. Insurance can be bought for windows, structural glass, leaded glass and mirrors. Available with or without a deductible.
A single policy covering a group of individuals, usually employees of the same company or members of the same association and their dependents. Coverage occurs under a master policy issued to the employer or association.
Homeowners policy that pays the full cost of replacing or repairing a damaged or destroyed home, even if it is above the policy limit. (See Extended replacement cost coverage )
A legal concept that holds gun manufacturers liable for the cost of injuries caused by guns. Several cities have filed lawsuits based on this concept.
- HACKER INSURANCE
A coverage that protects businesses engaged in electronic commerce from losses caused by hackers.
- HARD MARKET
A seller’s market in which insurance is expensive and in short supply. (See Property/casualty insurance cycle )
- HIRED NON-OWNED AUTO LIABILITY INSURANCE
Protects your business in the event an employee is using a personal vehicle for company business or to run errands on behalf of the company, such as driving to the post office or bank. More commonly, businesses which offer delivery service, such as pizza restaurants often have employees using their own vehicles to make such deliveries.
- HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE POLICY
The policy protects your home and possessions within your home along with other structures such as non-attached garages, tool sheds, etc. Liability claims involving bodily injury, property damage and medical payments to non-household members who are accidentally injured on your property are also covered.
A percentage or dollar amount added to a homeowner’s insurance policy to limit an insurer’s exposure to loss from a hurricane. Higher deductibles are instituted in higher risk areas, such as coastal regions. Specific details, such as the intensity of the storm for the deductible to be triggered and the extent of the high risk area, vary from insurer to insurer and state to state.
- IDENTITY THEFT INSURANCE
Coverage for expenses incurred as the result of an identity theft. Can include costs for notarizing fraud affidavits and certified mail, lost income from time taken off from work to meet with law-enforcement personnel or credit agencies, fees for reapplying for loans and attorney's fees to defend against lawsuits and remove criminal or civil judgments.
Losses that are not filed with the insurer or reinsurer until years after the policy is sold. Some liability claims may be filed long after the event that caused the injury to occur. Asbestos-related diseases, for example, do not show up until decades after the exposure. IBNR also refers to estimates made about claims already reported but where the full extent of the injury is not yet known, such as a workers compensation claim where the degree to which work-related injuries prevents a worker from earning what he or she earned before the injury unfolds over time. Insurance companies regularly adjust reserves for such losses as new information becomes available.
- INCURRED LOSSES
Losses occurring within a fixed period, whether or not adjusted or paid during the same period.
- INDEPENDENT AGENT
Agent who is self-employed, is paid on commission, and represents several insurance companies. (See Captive agent )
A provision added to a homeowners insurance policy that automatically adjusts the coverage limit on the dwelling each time the policy is renewed to reflect current construction costs.
- INLAND MARINE INSURANCE
This broad type of coverage was developed for shipments that do not involve ocean transport. Covers articles in transit by all forms of land and air transportation as well as bridges, tunnels and other means of transportation and communication. Floaters that cover expensive personal items such as fine art and jewelry are included in this category. (See Floater )
Insurer’s inability to pay debts. Insurance insolvency standards and the regulatory actions taken vary from state to state. When regulators deem an insurance company is in danger of becoming insolvent, they can take one of three actions: place a company in conservatorship or rehabilitation if the company can be saved or liquidation if salvage is deemed impossible. The difference between the first two options is one of degree – regulators guide companies in conservatorship but direct those in rehabilitation. Typically the first sign of problems is inability to pass the financial tests regulators administer as a routine procedure. (See Liquidation, Risk-based capital )
Risks for which it is relatively easy to get insurance and that meet certain criteria. These include being definable, accidental in nature, and part of a group of similar risks large enough to make losses predictable. The insurance company also must be able to come up with a reasonable price for the insurance.
A system to make large financial losses more affordable by pooling the risks of many individuals and business entities and transferring them to an insurance company or other large group in return for a premium.
- INSURANCE POOL
A group of insurance companies that pool assets, enabling them to provide an amount of insurance substantially more than can be provided by individual companies to ensure large risks such as nuclear power stations. Pools may be formed voluntarily or mandated by the state to cover risks that can’t obtain coverage in the voluntary market such as coastal properties subject to hurricanes. (See Beach and windstorm plans, Fair access to insurance requirements plans / FAIR plans, Joint underwriting association / JUA )
Insurance scores are confidential rankings based on credit information. This includes whether the consumer has made timely payments on loans, the number of open credit card accounts and whether a bankruptcy filing has been made. An insurance score is a measure of how well consumers manage their financial affairs, not of their financial assets. It does not include information about income or race.
Studies have shown that people who manage their money well tend also to manage their most important asset, their home, well. And people who manage their money responsibly also tend to handle driving a car responsibly. Some insurance companies use insurance scores as an insurance underwriting and rating tool.
An insurer that sells exclusively via the Internet.
- INTERNET LIABILITY INSURANCE
Coverage designed to protect businesses from liabilities that arise from the conducting of business over the Internet, including copyright infringement, defamation, and violation of privacy.
- KEY PERSON INSURANCE
Insurance on the life or health of a key individual whose services are essential to the continuing success of a business and whose death or disability could cause the firm a substantial financial loss.
- KIDNAP/RANSOM INSURANCE
Coverage up to specific limits for the cost of ransom or extortion payments and related expenses. Often bought by international corporations to cover employees. Most policies have large deductibles and may exclude certain geographic areas. Some policies require that the policyholder not reveal the existence of the coverage.
- LIABILITY INSURANCE
Insurance for what the policyholder is legally obligated to pay because of bodily injury or property damage caused to another person.
- LIFE INSURANCE
See Ordinary life insurance; Term insurance; Variable life insurance; Whole life insurance
Coverage for bodily injury or property damage caused by an intoxicated person who was served liquor by the policyholder.
Long-term care (LTC) insurance pays for services to help individuals who are unable to perform certain activities of daily living without assistance, or require supervision due to a cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease. LTC is available as individual insurance or through an employer-sponsored or association plan.
- LOSS ADJUSTMENT EXPENSES
The sum insurers pay for investigating and settling insurance claims, including the cost of defending a lawsuit in court.
- LOSS COSTS
The portion of an insurance rate used to cover claims and the costs of adjusting claims. Insurance companies typically determine their rates by estimating their future loss costs and adding a provision for expenses, profit, and contingencies.
- LOSS OF USE
A provision in homeowners and renters insurance policies that reimburses policyholders for any extra living expenses due to having to live elsewhere while their home is being restored following a disaster.
- LOSS RESERVES
The company’s best estimate of what it will pay for claims, which is periodically readjusted. They represent a liability on the insurer’s balance sheet.
- MALPRACTICE INSURANCE
Professional liability coverage for physicians, lawyers, and other specialists against suits alleging negligence or errors and omissions that have harmed clients.
- MANAGED CARE
Arrangement between an employer or insurer and selected providers to provide comprehensive health care at a discount to members of the insured group and coordinate the financing and delivery of health care. Managed care uses medical protocols and procedures agreed on by the medical profession to be cost effective, also known as medical practice guidelines.
Coverage for goods in transit, and for the commercial vehicles that transport them, on water and over land. The term may apply to inland marine but more generally applies to ocean marine insurance. Covers damage or destruction of a ship’s hull and cargo and perils include collision, sinking, capsizing, being stranded, fire, piracy, and jettisoning cargo to save other property. Wear and tear, dampness, mold, and war are not included. (See Inland marine insurance, Ocean marine insurance )
Nonbinding procedure in which a third party attempts to resolve a conflict between two other parties.
A federal/state public assistance program created in 1965 and administered by the states for people whose income and resources are insufficient to pay for health care.
A coverage in which the insurer agrees to reimburse the insured and others up to a certain limit for medical or funeral expenses as a result of bodily injury or death by accident. Payments are without regard to fault.
- MEDICAL UTILIZATION REVIEW
The practice used by insurance companies to review claims for medical treatment.
Federal program for people 65 or older that pays part of the costs associated with hospitalization, surgery, doctors’ bills, home health care, and skilled-nursing care.
Policies that supplement federal insurance benefits particularly for those covered under Medicare.
- MINE SUBSIDENCE COVERAGE
An endorsement to a homeowners insurance policy, available in some states, for losses to a home caused by the land under a house sinking into a mine shaft. Excluded from standard homeowners policies, as are other forms of earth movement.
Coverage for the mortgagee (usually a financial institution) in the event that a mortgage holder defaults on a loan. Also called private mortgage insurance (PMI).
- MORTGAGE INSURANCE
A form of decreasing term insurance that covers the life of a person taking out a mortgage. Death benefits provide for payment of the outstanding balance of the loan. Coverage is in decreasing term insurance, so the amount of coverage decreases as the debt decreases. A variant, mortgage unemployment insurance pays the mortgage of a policyholder who becomes involuntarily unemployed. (See Term insurance )
A package policy, such as a homeowners or business insurance policy, that provides coverage against several different perils. It also refers to the combination of property and liability coverage in one policy. In the early days of insurance, coverages for property damage and liability were purchased separately.
Liability insurance for municipalities.
- NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM
Failure to act with the legally required degree of care for others, resulting in harm to them.
Auto insurance coverage that pays for each driver’s own injuries, regardless of who caused the accident. No-fault varies from state to state. It also refers to an auto liability insurance system that restricts lawsuits to serious cases. Such policies are designed to promote faster reimbursement and to reduce litigation.
- NO-PAY, NO-PLAY
The idea that people who don’t buy coverage should not receive benefits. Prohibits uninsured drivers from collecting damages from insured drivers. In most states with this law, uninsured drivers may not sue for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering. In other states, uninsured drivers are required to pay the equivalent of a large deductible ($10,000) before they can sue for property damages and another large deductible before they can sue for bodily harm.
Insurers licensed in some states, but not others. States where an insurer is not licensed call that insurer non-admitted. They sell coverage that is unavailable from licensed insurers within the state.
- NOTICE OF LOSS
A written notice required by insurance companies immediately after an accident or other loss. Part of the standard provisions defining a policyholder's responsibilities after a loss.
- NUCLEAR INSURANCE
Covers operators of nuclear reactors and other facilities for liability and property damage in the case of a nuclear accident and involves both private insurers and the federal government.
- NURSING HOME INSURANCE
A form of long-term care policy that covers a policyholder’s stay in a nursing facility.
- OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE
Abnormal condition or illness caused by factors associated with the workplace. Like occupational injuries, this is covered by workers compensation policies. (See Workers compensation )
- OCCURRENCE POLICY
Insurance that pays claims arising out of incidents that occur during the policy term, even if they are filed many years later. (See Claims-made policy )
- OCEAN MARINE INSURANCE
Coverage of all types of vessels and watercraft, for property damage to the vessel and cargo, including such risks as piracy and the jettisoning of cargo to save the property of others. Coverage for marine-related liabilities. War is excluded from basic policies, but can be bought back.
The cost of maintaining a business’s property, includes insurance, property taxes, utilities and rent, but excludes income tax, depreciation and other financing expenses.
Contracts that allow, but do not oblige, the buying or selling of property or assets at a certain date at a set price.
- ORDINANCE OR LAW COVERAGE
Endorsement to a property policy, including homeowners, that pays for the extra expense of rebuilding to comply with ordinances or laws, often building codes, that did not exist when the building was originally built. For example, a building severely damaged in a hurricane may have to be elevated above the flood line when it is rebuilt. This endorsement would cover part of the additional cost.
- ORDINARY LIFE INSURANCE
A life insurance policy that remains in force for the policyholder’s lifetime.
- ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER PARTS / OEM
Sheet metal auto parts made by the manufacturer of the vehicle. (See Generic auto parts )
- OVER-THE-COUNTER (OTC)
Security that is not listed or traded on an exchange such as the New York Stock Exchange. Business in over-the-counter securities is conducted through dealers using electronic networks.
- PACKAGE POLICY
A single insurance policy that combines several coverages previously sold separately. Examples include homeowners insurance and commercial multiple peril insurance.
Programs to provide employees with retirement income after they meet minimum age and service requirements. Life insurers hold some of these funds. Since the 1970s responsibility for funding retirement has increasingly shifted from employers (defined benefit plans that promise workers a specific retirement income) to employees (defined contribution plans financed by employees that may or may not be matched by employer contributions). (See Defined benefit plan, Defined contribution plan )
A specific risk or cause of loss covered by an insurance policy, such as a fire, windstorm, flood, or theft. A named-peril policy covers the policyholder only for the risks named in the policy in contrast to an all-risk policy, which covers all causes of loss except those specifically excluded.
- PERSONAL ARTICLES FLOATER
A policy or an addition to a policy used to cover personal valuables, like jewelry or furs.
- PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION COVERAGE / PIP
Portion of an auto insurance policy that covers the treatment of injuries to the driver and passengers of the policyholder’s car.
- PERSONAL LINES
Property/casualty insurance products that are designed for and bought by individuals, including homeowners and automobile policies. (See Commercial lines )
- POINT-OF-SERVICE PLAN
Health insurance policy that allows the employee to choose between in-network and out-of-network care each time medical treatment is needed.
A written contract for insurance between an insurance company and policyholder stating details of coverage.
- POLICYHOLDERS' SURPLUS
The amount of money remaining after an insurer’s liabilities are subtracted from its assets. It acts as a financial cushion above and beyond reserves, protecting policyholders against an unexpected or catastrophic situation.
- POLITICAL RISK INSURANCE
Coverage for businesses operating abroad against loss due to political upheaval such as war, revolution, or confiscation of property.
- POLLUTION INSURANCE
Policies that cover property loss and liability arising from pollution-related damages, for sites that have been inspected and found uncontaminated. It is usually written on a claims-made basis so policies pay only claims presented during the term of the policy or within a specified time frame after the policy expires. (See Claims-made policy )
- PREFERRED PROVIDER ORGANIZATION
Network of medical providers which charge on a fee-for-service basis, but are paid on a negotiated, discounted fee schedule. ( PPO )
The particular location of the property or a portion of it as designated in an insurance policy.
- PREMIUMS IN FORCE
The sum of the face amounts, plus dividend additions, of life insurance policies outstanding at a given time.
- PREMIUMS WRITTEN
The total premiums on all policies written by an insurer during a specified period of time, regardless of what portions have been earned. Net premiums written are premiums written after reinsurance transactions.
- PRODUCT LIABILITY
A section of tort law that determines who may sue and who may be sued for damages when a defective product injures someone. No uniform federal laws guide manufacturer’s liability, but under strict liability, the injured party can hold the manufacturer responsible for damages without the need to prove negligence or fault.
- PRODUCT LIABILITY INSURANCE
Protects manufacturers’ and distributors’ exposure to lawsuits by people who have sustained bodily injury or property damage through the use of the product.
- PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE
Covers professionals for negligence and errors or omissions that injure their clients.
- PROPERTY/CASUALTY INSURANCE
Covers damage to or loss of policyholders’ property and legal liability for damages caused to other people or their property. Property/casualty insurance, which includes auto, homeowners and commercial insurance, is one segment of the insurance industry. The other sector is life/health. Outside the United States, property/casualty insurance is referred to as nonlife or general insurance.
An entity that offers insurance to groups of similar businesses with similar exposures to risk.
The cost of a unit of insurance, usually per $1,000. Rates are based on historical loss experience for similar risks and may be regulated by state insurance offices.
- RATE REGULATION
- RATING AGENCIES
Six major credit agencies determine insurers’ financial strength and viability to meet claims obligations. They are A.M. Best Co.; Duff & Phelps Inc.; Fitch, Inc.; Moody’s Investors Services; Standard & Poor’s Corp.; and Weiss Ratings, Inc. Factors considered include company earnings, capital adequacy, operating leverage, liquidity, investment performance, reinsurance programs, and management ability, integrity and experience. A high financial rating is not the same as a high consumer satisfaction rating.
- RATING BUREAU
The insurance business is based on the spread of risk. The more widely risk is spread, the more accurately loss can be estimated. An insurance company can more accurately estimate the probability of loss on 100,000 homes than on ten. Years ago, insurers were required to use standardized forms and rates developed by rating agencies. Today, large insurers use their own statistical loss data to develop rates. But small insurers, or insurers focusing on special lines of business, with insufficiently broad loss data to make them actuarially reliable depend on pooled industry data collected by such organizations as the Insurance Services Office (ISO) which provides information to help develop rates such as estimates of future losses and loss adjustment expenses like legal defense costs.
Insurance bought by insurers. A reinsurer assumes part of the risk and part of the premium originally taken by the insurer, known as the primary company. Reinsurance effectively increases an insurer's capital and therefore its capacity to sell more coverage. The business is global and some of the largest reinsurers are based abroad. Reinsurers have their own reinsurers, called retrocessionaires. Reinsurers don’t pay policyholder claims. Instead, they reimburse insurers for claims paid. (See Treaty reinsurance, Facultative reinsurance )
- RENTERS INSURANCE
A form of insurance that covers a policyholder’s belongings against perils such as fire, theft, windstorm, hail, explosion, vandalism, riots, and others. It also provides personal liability coverage for damage the policyholder or dependents cause to third parties. It also provides additional living expenses, known as loss-of-use coverage, if a policyholder must move while his or her dwelling is repaired. It also can include coverage for property improvements. Possessions can be covered for their replacement cost or the actual cash value that includes depreciation.
- REPLACEMENT COST
Insurance that pays the dollar amount needed to replace damaged personal property or dwelling property without deducting for depreciation but limited by the maximum dollar amount shown on the declarations page of the policy.
A company’s best estimate of what it will pay for claims.
- RESIDUAL MARKET
Facilities, such as assigned risk plans and FAIR Plans, that exist to provide coverage for those who cannot get it in the regular market. Insurers doing business in a given state generally must participate in these pools. For this reason the residual market is also known as the shared market.
An attachment to an insurance policy that alters the policy’s coverage or terms.
- RISK MANAGEMENT
Management of the varied risks to which a business firm or association might be subject. It includes analyzing all exposures to gauge the likelihood of loss and choosing options to better manage or minimize loss. These options typically include reducing and eliminating the risk with safety measures, buying insurance, and self-insurance.
- RISK RETENTION GROUPS
Insurance companies that band together as self-insurers and form an organization that is chartered and licensed as an insurer in at least one state to handle liability insurance.
- RISK-BASED CAPITAL
The need for insurance companies to be capitalized according to the inherent riskiness of the type of insurance they sell. Higher-risk types of insurance, liability as opposed to property business, generally necessitate higher levels of capital.
Damaged property an insurer takes over to reduce its loss after paying a claim. Insurers receive salvage rights over property on which they have paid claims, such as badly-damaged cars. Insurers that paid claims on cargoes lost at sea now have the right to recover sunken treasures. Salvage charges are the costs associated with recovering that property.
A list of individual items or groups of items that are covered under one policy or a listing of specific benefits, charges, credits, assets or other defined items.
The concept of assuming a financial risk oneself, instead of paying an insurance company to take it on. Every policyholder is a self-insurer in terms of paying a deductible and co-payments. Large firms often self-insure frequent, small losses such as damage to their fleet of vehicles or minor workplace injuries. However, to protect injured employees state laws set out requirements for the assumption of workers compensation programs. Self-insurance also refers to employers who assume all or part of the responsibility for paying the health insurance claims of their employees. Firms that self insure for health claims are exempt from state insurance laws mandating the illnesses that group health insurers must cover.
- SOFT MARKET
An environment where insurance is plentiful and sold at a lower cost, also known as a buyers’ market. (See Property/casualty insurance cycle )
Insurance companies’ ability to pay the claims of policyholders. Regulations to promote solvency include minimum capital and surplus requirements, statutory accounting conventions, limits to insurance company investment and corporate activities, financial ratio tests, and financial data disclosure.
- SPREAD OF RISK
The selling of insurance in multiple areas to multiple policyholders to minimize the danger that all policyholders will have losses at the same time. Companies are more likely to insure perils that offer a good spread of risk. Flood insurance is an example of a poor spread of risk because the people most likely to buy it are the people close to rivers and other bodies of water that flood. (See Adverse selection )
Practice that increases the money available to pay auto liability claims. In states where this practice is permitted by law, courts may allow policyholders who have several cars insured under a single policy, or multiple vehicles insured under different policies, to add up the limit of liability available for each vehicle.
- STATE FUND
A mechanism administered by a state to provide insurance coverage, sometimes for high-risk policyholders
The legal process by which an insurance company, after paying a loss, seeks to recover the amount of the loss from another party who is legally liable for it.
Property/casualty insurance coverage that isn’t available from insurers licensed in the state, called admitted companies, and must be purchased from a non-admitted carrier. Examples include risks of an unusual nature that require greater flexibility in policy terms and conditions than exist in standard forms or where the highest rates allowed by state regulators are considered inadequate by admitted companies. Laws governing surplus lines vary by state.
- TERM LIFE INSURANCE
A form of life insurance that covers the insured person for a certain period of time, the “term” that is specified in the policy. It pays a benefit to a designated beneficiary only when the insured dies within that specified period which can be one, five, 10 or even 20 years. Term life policies are renewable but premiums increase with age.
Included as a part of the package in standard commercial insurance policies before September 11, 2001 virtually free of charge. Since September 11, terrorism coverage prices have increased substantially to reflect the current risk.
Liability coverage purchased by the policyholder as a protection against possible lawsuits filed by a third party. The insured and the insurer are the first and second parties to the insurance contract. (See First-party coverage )
Insurance that indemnifies the owner of real estate in the event that his or her clear ownership of property is challenged by the discovery of faults in the title.
The condition of an automobile or other property when damage is so extensive that repair costs would exceed the value of the vehicle or property.
Insurance to cover problems associated with traveling, generally including trip cancellation due to illness, lost luggage and other incidents.
- UMBRELLA POLICY
Coverage for losses above the limit of an underlying policy or policies such as homeowners and auto insurance. While it applies to losses over the dollar amount in the underlying policies, terms of coverage are sometimes broader than those of underlying policies.
The result of the policyholder’s failure to buy sufficient insurance. An underinsured policyholder may only receive part of the cost of replacing or repairing damaged items covered in the policy.
Examining, accepting, or rejecting insurance risks and classifying the ones that are accepted, in order to charge appropriate premiums for them.
The portion of a premium already received by the insurer under which protection has not yet been provided. The entire premium is not earned until the policy period expires, even though premiums are typically paid in advance.
- UNINSURABLE RISK
Risks for which it is difficult for someone to get insurance. (See Insurable risk )
- UNINSURED MOTORISTS COVERAGE
Portion of an auto insurance policy that protects a policyholder from uninsured and hit-and-run drivers.
- UNIVERSAL LIFE INSURANCE
A flexible premium policy that combines protection against premature death with a type of savings vehicle, known as a cash value account, that typically earns a money market rate of interest. Death benefits can be changed during the life of the policy within limits, generally subject to a medical examination. Once funds accumulate in the cash value account, the premium can be paid at any time but the policy will lapse if there isn’t enough money to cover annual mortality charges and administrative costs.
- VALUED POLICY
A policy under which the insurer pays a specified amount of money to or on behalf of the insured upon the occurrence of a defined loss. The money amount is not related to the extent of the loss. Life insurance policies are an example.
A policy that combines protection against premature death with a savings account that can be invested in stocks, bonds, and money market mutual funds at the policyholder’s discretion.
A policy contract that for some reason specified in the policy becomes free of all legal effect. One example under which a policy could be voided is when information a policyholder provided is proven untrue.
Most homeowners policies cover damage from a volcanic eruption.
The surrender of a right or privilege. In life insurance, a provision that sets certain conditions, such as disablement, which allow coverage to remain in force without payment of premiums.
- WAR RISK
Special coverage on cargo in overseas ships against the risk of being confiscated by a government in wartime. It is excluded from standard ocean marine insurance and can be purchased separately. It often excludes cargo awaiting shipment on a wharf or on ships after 15 days of arrival in port.
- WARRANTY INSURANCE
Warranty insurance coverage compensates for the cost of repairing or replacing defective products past the normal warranty period provided by manufacturers.
- WATER-DAMAGE INSURANCE COVERAGE
Protection provided in most homeowners insurance policies against sudden and accidental water damage, from burst pipes for example. Does not cover damage from problems resulting from a lack of proper maintenance such as dripping air conditioners. Water damage from floods is covered under separate flood insurance policies issued by the federal government.
- WEATHER DERIVATIVE
An insurance or securities product used as a hedge by energy-related businesses and others whose sales tend to fluctuate depending on the weather.
- WEATHER INSURANCE
A type of business interruption insurance that compensates for financial losses caused by adverse weather conditions, such as constant rain on the day scheduled for a major outdoor concert.
- WHOLE LIFE INSURANCE
The oldest kind of cash value life insurance that combines protection against premature death with a savings account. Premiums are fixed and guaranteed and remain level throughout the policy’s lifetime.
- WORKERS COMPENSATION
Insurance that pays for medical care and physical rehabilitation of injured workers and helps to replace lost wages while they are unable to work. State laws, which vary significantly, govern the amount of benefits paid and other compensation provisions.
- WRAP-UP INSURANCE
Broad policy coordinated to cover liability exposures for a large group of businesses that have something in common. Might be used to insure all businesses working on a large construction project, such as an apartment complex.
- WRITTEN PREMIUMS
See Premiums written