Glossary of Common Insurance Terms


Actual Cash Value (ACV): Cost to repair or replace damaged property wit h materials of like kind and quality, less depreciation.

Additional Insured:  A person or organization for whom insured status is arranged by endorsement.

Agent:  An authorized representative of an insurance company.

All Risk Coverage:  Property insurance covering loss arising from all causes of loss except those that are specifically excluded.

Application:  A form with the information needed for an insurance company to underwrite and rate a specific policy.

Basic Cause of Loss Form:  Property coverage for named perils: Fire, Lightning, Explosion, Smoke, Windstorm, Hail, Riot, Civil Commotion, Aircraft, Vehicles, Vandalism, Sprinkler Leakage, Sinkhold Collapse and Volcanic Action.

Basic Limits:  The minimum limits of liability that can be carried by an insured.

Beneficiary:  The designated person set to receive the death benefit if the insured should die.

Bond:  A written agreement in which one party, the surety, guarantees the performance or honesty of a second party, the principal (obligor), to the third party (obligee) to whom the performance or debt is owned.

Cancellation:  The termination of an insurance policy usually before its expiration.

Carrier: The insurance company which provides coverage.

Claim:  A request by a policyholder or a claimant for payment under a policy of insurance.

Collision Insurance:  Provides for payment to a covered automobile resulting from the striking of another object by a moving vehicle.

Comprehensive Auto Coverage:  Covers an automobile for loss or damage for all causes except for those specifically excluded.

Conditions:  Things agreed upon in an insurance policy that state the rights and the requirements of the insured and the insurer.

Contract:  An agreement between two or more parties with characteristics of mutual assent, competent parties, a valid consideration and legal subject.

Deductible:  The amount of loss which is paid or absorbed by the insured prior to determining the insurance company's liability.

Effective Date:  The date on which an insurance binder or policy goes into effect.

Endorsement:  A document attached to an insurance policy that changes the original policy provisions.

Excess Liability Policy:  A policy that provides additional limits in excess of the underlying liability policy.

Exclusions:  Specified hazards listed in a policy for which benefits will not be paid.

General Liability Insurance:  Insurance protecting businesses from most liability exposures other than automobile and professional liability. 

Insured:  The party who is being insured.  In life insurance, it is the person because of his/her death the insurance company would pay out a death benefit to a designated  beneficiary.

Insurer:  The insurance company; Party that provides insurance coverage, typically through a contract of insurance.

Lapse: Termination of a policy due to the policy owner's failure to pay the premium within the grace period.

Liability:  The legal obligation to pay a monetary award for injury or damage caused by one's negligent or statutorily prohibited action.

Life Insurance:  Insurance coverage that pays out a set amount of money to specified beneficiaries upon the death of the individual who is insured.

Loss:  The amount an insurance company pays for damages under the terms of a policy.

Medical Payments, Auto:  Coverage, which is optional, under an auto policy to pay for medical expenses for bodily injury caused by an auto accident, regardless of fault.  Coverage for persons other than the named insured and his/her family members is typically restricted to circumstances when they are occupants of the insured auto.

Named Perils Coverage:  A property insurance term referring to exact causes of loss specifically listed as covered.

National Flood Insurance Program:  A federally funded program established to make  flood insurance available to properties located in participating communities .

Peril:  Cause of loss such as fire, windstorm, collision, etc.

Personal Injury:  A General Liability coverage for insurable offenses that cause harm, other than bodily injury, such as false arrest, detention or imprisonment, malicious prosection, wrongful eviction, slander, libel and invasion of privacy.

Personal Property:  All tangible property not classified as real property such as contents.

Policy:  The printed document given to the insured, outlining the terms and conditions of the insurance coverage.

Policy Holder:  The person who owns a life insurance policy.  This is usually the insured person, but it may also be a relative of the insured, a partnership or a corporation.

Premium:  The agreed upon, payment made to keep an insurance policy in force, usually a monthly payment.

Product:  Items manufactured, sold, handled, distributed or disposed of by the named insured or others involved with the named insured in the course of their business.  Includes containers, parts and equipment, product warranties and provision of or failure to provide instructions and warnings.

Property Insurance:  First-party insurance for real and personal property against physical loss and damage.

Rents or Rental Value Insurance:  Insurance that reimburses a building owner for loss of rental income due to damage by an insured peril.

Rider:  An attachment to a policy that modifies its conditions by expanding or restricting benefits or excluding certain conditions from coverage.

Risk:  The chance of injury, damage or loss.

Term Insurance:  Protection during limited number of years; expiring without value if the insured survives the stated period, which may be one or more years but usually is five to twenty years, because such periods usually cover the needs for temporary protection.

Underinsured Motorists Coverage:  Provides coverage for bodily injury, and in some states property damage, for losses incurred by an insured when an accident is caused by a motorist who does not have sufficient insurance limits.

Underlying Coverage:  The insurance or coverage in place on the same risk that will respond to loss before the excess policy is called on to pay any portion of the claim.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage:  Provides coverage for bodily injury, and in some states property damage, for losses incurred by an insured when an accident is caused by a motorist who is not insured.

Workers' Compensation:  Protection which provides benefits to employees for injury or contracted disease arising out of and in the course of employment.  Most states have laws which require such protection for workers and prescribe the length and amount of such benefits provided.