Insurance Glossary

Click on the word or term below for an explanation.

Actual Cash Value

Cost of replacing damaged or destroyed property with comparable new property, minus depreciation and obsolescence. For example, a 10-year-old sofa will not be replaced at current full value because of a decade of depreciation.

Adjuster

A representative of the insurer who seeks to determine the extent of the insurer’s liability for loss when a claim is submitted.

Aggregate Limit

Usually refers to liability insurance and indicates the amount of coverage that the insured has under the contract for a specific period of time, usually the contract period, no matter how many separate accidents might occur.

Coinsurance

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% health insurance coinsurance clause, the policyholder pays for the deductible plus 20% of his covered losses. After paying 80% of losses up to a specified ceiling, the insurer starts paying 100% of losses.

Collision Insurance

Covers physical damage to the insured’s automobile (other than that covered under comprehensive insurance) resulting from contact with another inanimate object.

Comprehensive Insurance

Auto insurance coverage providing protection in the event of physical damage (other than collision) or theft of the insured car. For example, fire damage or a cracked windshield would be covered under the comprehensive section.

Deductible

Amount of loss that the insured pays before the insurance kicks in.

Earned Premium

The amount of the premium that as been paid for in advance that has been “earned” by virtue of the fact that time has passed without claim. A three-year policy that has been paid in advance and is one year old would have only partly earned the premium.

Employers Liability Insurance

Coverage against common law liability of an employer for accidents to employees, as distinguished from liability imposed by a workers’ compensation law

Exclusions

Items or conditions that are not covered by the general insurance contract.

Exposure

Measure of vulnerability to loss, usually expressed in dollars or units.

Extended Replacement Cost

This option extends replacement cost loss settlement to personal property and to outdoor antennas, carpeting, domestic appliances, cloth awnings, and outdoor equipment, subject to limitations on certain kinds of personal property; includes inflation protection coverage.

General Liability Insurance

Insurance designed to protect business owners and operators from a wide variety of liability exposures. Exposures could include liability arising from accidents resulting from the insured’s premises or operations, products sold by the insured, operations completed by the insured, and contractual liability.

Hazard

A circumstance that increases the likelihood or probable severity of a loss. For example, the storing of explosives in a home basement is a hazard that increases the probability of an explosion

Liability

Broadly, any legally enforceable obligation. The term is most commonly used in a pecuniary sense.

Liability Insurance

Insurance that pays and renders service on behalf of an insured for loss arising out of his responsibility, due to negligence, to others imposed by law or assumed by contract.

Named Perils

Perils specifically covered on insured property.

Occurrence

An event that results in an insured loss. In some lines of business, such as liability, an occurrence is distinguished from accident in that the loss doesn’t have to be sudden and fortuitous and can result from continuous or repeated exposure which results in bodily injury or property damage neither expected not intended by the insured.

Peril

The cause of a possible loss.

Policy

The written contract effecting insurance, or the certificate thereof, by whatever name called, and including all clause, riders, endorsements, and papers attached thereto and made a part thereof.

Premium

The price of insurance protection for a specified risk for a specified period of time.

Renewal

The automatic re-establishment of in-force status effected by the payment of another premium.

Replacement Cost

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.

Subrogation

The right of an insurer who has taken over another’s loss also to take over the other person’s right to pursue remedies against a third party.

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.

Unearned Premiums

That part of the premium applicable to the unexpired part of the policy period.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Endorsement to a personal automobile policy that covers an insured collision with a driver who does not have liability insurance.

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