Insurance Glossary

Insurance Terms & Definitions


Actual Cash Value – An amount equivalent to the fair market value of the stolen or damaged property immediately preceding the loss. For real property, this amount can be based on a determination of the fair market value of the property before and after the loss. For vehicles, this amount can be determined by local area private party sales and dealer quotations for comparable vehicles.

Appraisal – Process that determines the value of property, or the extent of damage, usually performed by an impartial expert.

At-Fault – The party that is legally liable for the damages in an accident.

Automobile Insurance – Coverage on the risks associated with driving or owning an automobile. It can include collision, liability, comprehensive, medical, and uninsured motorist coverage's.


Baillie – A person or concern having possession of property committed in trust from the owner.

Bid Bond – A guarantee that the contractor will enter into a contract, if it is awarded to him, and furnish such contract bond (sometimes called “performance bond”) as is required by terms thereof.

Binder – A temporary or preliminary agreement which provides coverage until a policy can be written or delivered.

Bodily Injury – Any physical injury to a person. The purpose of liability insurance is to cover bodily injury to a third party resulting from the negligent or intentional acts of an insured.

Boiler And Machinery Insurance – Covers losses resulting from the malfunction of boilers and machinery. This coverage is usually excluded from property insurance creating the need for this separate product.

Broker – A licensed person or organization paid by you to look for insurance on your behalf.

Burglary – Coverage against loss as a result of forced entry into premises.


Cancellation – The termination of insurance coverage during the policy period. Flat cancellation is the cancellation of a policy as of its effective date, without any premium charge.

Claim – Notice to an insurer that under the terms of a policy, a loss maybe covered.

Claimant – The first or third party. That is any person who asserts right of recovery.

Collision (Auto) – Reimburses you for damage to YOUR automobile sustained in a collision with another car or with any other object, movable or fixed, (for example, you accidentally backed into another object while pulling out from a parking stall and causing damage to the bumper and fender of your covered automobile).

Collision Deductive Waiver – This coverage waves your collision deductible if you are hit by a negligent uninsured motorist. COMMON CARRIER LIABILITY Coverage for transportation firms that must carry any customer's goods so long as the customer is willing to pay. Examples include trucking companies, bus lines, and airlines.

Comprehensive (Auto) – Provides coverage for any direct and accidental loss of, or damage to, YOUR covered automobile and its normal equipment, to include but not limited to fire, theft or malicious mischief.

Comprehensive Glass Insurance – Coverage on an “all risks” basis for glass breakage, subject to exclusions of war and fire.


Decline – The company refuses to accept the request for insurance coverage.

Deductible – The amount of the loss which the insured is responsible to pay before benefits from the insurance company are payable. You may choose a higher deductible to lower your premium.

Depreciation – A decrease in value due to age, wear and tear, etc.

Disability Insurance – Health insurance that provides income payments to the insured wage earner when income is interrupted or terminated because of illness, sickness, or accident.


Effective Date – The date on which an insurance policy or bond goes into effect, and from which protection is furnished.

Endorsement – Amendment to the policy used to add or delete coverage. Also referred to as a "rider."

Exclusion – Certain causes and conditions, listed in the policy, which are not covered.

Expiration Date – The date on which the policy ends.


Face Amount – The dollar amount to be paid to the beneficiary when the insured dies. It does not include other amounts that may be paid from insurance purchased with dividends or any policy riders.

Fidelity Bond – An obligation of the insurance company against financial loss caused by the dishonest acts of employees.

Financial Guarantee Insurance – A surety bond, insurance policy or, when issued by an insurer, an indemnity contract and any guaranty similar to the foregoing types, under which loss is payable upon proof of occurrence of financial loss to an insured claimant, oblige, or indemnity.


Grace Period – A period (usually 31 days) after the premium due date, during which an overdue premium may be paid without penalty. The policy remains in force throughout this period.


Hazard – Anything that increases the chance of an accident occurring.

Health Insurance – A policy that will pay specifies sums for medical expenses or treatments. Health policies can offer many options and vary in their approaches to coverage.

Homeowner Insurance – An elective combination of coverage's for the risks of owning a home. Can include losses due to fire, burglary, vandalism, earthquake, and other perils.


Insured – The policyholder – the person(s) protected in case of a loss or claim.

Insurer – The insurance company.


Liability (Auto) – This coverage will pay for BODILY INJURY and/or PROPERTY DAMAGE to the OTHER party for which you become legally responsible of an automobile accident.

Liability Insurance – Coverage for all sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay because of bodily injury or property damage, and sometimes other wrongs, to which an insurance policy applies.

Life Insurance – A policy that will pay a specified sum to beneficiaries upon the death of the insured.

Limit – Maximum amount a policy will pay either overall or under a particular coverage.


Marine Insurance – Coverage for goods in transit and the vehicles of transportation on waterways, land, and air.

Material Misrepresentation – The policyholder / applicant makes a false statement of any material fact on his/her application. For instance, the policyholder provides false information regarding the location where the vehicle is garaged.

Medical Payments – Will pay reasonable expenses incurred for necessary medical and /or funeral services because of bodily injury caused by accident and sustained by YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON WHILE OCCUPYING A COVERED AUTOMOBILE.


Occurrence – An event, or repeated exposure to conditions, which unexpectedly causes injury or damage during the policy period.


Peril – The cause of a possible loss. For example, fire, theft, or hail.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – May pay for your medical treatment, lost wages, or other accident-related expenses regardless of who caused the accident. This coverage is subject to the terms, limits and conditions of your policy contract and is not available in all states.

Policy – The written contract of insurance.

Policy Limit – The maximum amount a policy will pay, either overall or under a particular coverage.

Power Of Attorney – Authority given one person or corporation to act for and obligate another, to the extent laid down in the instrument creating the power.

Premium – The amount of money an insurance company charges for insurance coverage.

Premium Financing – A policyholder contracts with a lender to pay the insurance premium on his/her behalf. The policyholder agrees to repay the lender for the cost of the premium, plus interest and fees.

Principal – A person or organization whose obligation are guaranteed by a bond.

Pro-Rata Cancellation – When the policy is terminated midterm by the insurance company, the earned premium is calculated only for the period coverage was provided. For example: an annual policy with premium of $1,000 is cancelled after 40 days of coverage at the company's election. The earned premium would be calculated as follows: 40/365 days X $1,000=.110 X $1,000=$110.

Property Damage – Damage to another person's property. The purpose of liability insurance is to cover property damage to a third party resulting from the negligent or intentional acts of an insured.


Quote – An estimate of the cost of insurance, based on information supplied to the insurance company by the applicant.


Rate – Often used as a synonym for premium but actually refers to the base rating units that are used to determine the final premium.

Rating Plan – The rules that determine the cost of your insurance premium. These rules modify the base rates by applying discounts and surcharges based on your personal characteristics, for example, using your seat belt, insuring more than one car.

Replacement Cost – The cost to repair or replace an insured item. Some insurance only pays the actual cash or market value of the item at the time of the loss, not what it would cost to fix or replace it. If you have personal property replacement cost coverage, your insurance will pay the full cost to repair an item or buy a new one once the repairs or purchases have been made.

Replacement Value – The full cost to repair or replace the damaged property with no deduction for depreciation, subject to policy limits and contract provisions.

Reinstatement – The restoring of a lapsed policy to full force and effect. The reinstatement may be effective after the cancellation date, creating a lapse of coverage. Some companies require evidence of insurability and payment of past due premiums plus interest.

Rider – Usually known as an endorsement, a rider is an amendment to the policy used to add or delete coverage.

Risk – The chance of suffering a loss.


Short-Rate Cancellation – When the policy is terminated prior to the expiration date at the policyholder's request. Earned premium charged would be more than the pro-rata earned premium. Generally, the return premium would be approximately 90 percent of the pro-rata return premium. However, the company may also establish its own short-rate schedule.

Subrogation – If your car is damaged because of another driver's negligence and you ask your insurance company to settle the claim for damage to your car, your insurance company will seek payment recovery (including your deductible) from the other party. This process of payment recovery is called subrogation.

Surcharge – An extra charge applied by the insurer. For automobile insurance, a surcharge is usually for accidents or moving violations.

Surety – An arrangement whereby one party becomes answerable to a third party for the acts of a second party. Customarily an insurance company, the party in a surety ship arrangement who holds himself responsible to one person for the acts of another.

Surety Bond – A bond which the surety agrees to answer to the oblige for the non-performance of the principal (also known as the obligor).

Surrender – To terminate or cancel a life insurance policy before the maturity date. In the case of a cash value policy, the policyholder may exercise one of the non forfeiture options at the time of surrender.


Title Insurance – Coverage for losses if a land title is not free and clear of defects that were unknown when the title insurance was written.


Umbrella Insurance – Provides high limits of additional liability coverage above the limits of your homeowners and auto policy. In addition, it provides coverage that may be excluded by other liability policies.

Underwriting – The process of selecting applicants for insurance and classifying them according to their degrees of insurability so that the appropriate premium rates may be charged. The process includes rejection of unacceptable risks. UNINSURED MOTORIST BODILY INJURY – Will pay you and your passengers for BODILY INJURY cause by a negligent uninsured motorist, a hit-and-run driver, or by a driver whose insurer is insolvent.

Uninsured Motorist Property Damage – Will pay for damages to your automobile, set up to a limit, when caused by a negligent uninsured motorist.


Waiting Period – A period of time set forth in a policy which must pass before some or all coverage's begin.

Workers Compensation Insurance – Coverage providing four types of benefits (medical care, death, disability, and rehabilitation) for employee job-related injuries or diseases as a matter of right (without regard to fault).