Glossary of Insurance Terms

Click on a term below to learn more

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

ADJUSTER

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

AGENT

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

APPORTIONMENT

The dividing of a loss proportionately among two or more insurers that cover the same loss.

APPRAISAL

A survey to determine a property?s insurable value, or the amount of a loss

ARBITRATION

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.

ARSON

The deliberate setting of a fire.

ASSETS

Property owned, in this case by an insurance company, including stocks, bonds, and real estate. Insurance accounting is concerned with solvency and the ability to pay claims. State insurance laws therefore require a conservative valuation of assets, prohibiting insurance companies from listing assets on their balance sheets whose values are uncertain, such as furniture, fixtures, debit balances, and accounts receivable that are more than 90 days past due.

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

AUTO INSURANCE POLICY

There are basically six different types of coverages. Some may be required by law. Others are optional.

They are:
1) Bodily injury liability, for injuries the policyholder causes to someone else.
2) Medical payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) for treatment of injuries to the driver and passengers of the policyholder?s car.
3) Property damage liability, for damage the policyholder causes to someone else?s property.
4) Collision, for damage to the policyholder?s car from a collision.
5) 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.

BINDER

Temporary authorization of coverage issued prior to the actual insurance policy.

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 stores.

BODILY INJURY LIABILITY COVERAGE

Portion of an auto insurance policy that covers injuries the policyholder causes to someone else.

BOND

A security that obligates the issuer to pay interest at specified intervals and to repay the principal amount of the loan at maturity. In insurance, a form of suretyship. Bonds of various types guarantee a payment or a reimbursement for financial losses resulting from dishonesty, failure to perform and other acts.

BROKER

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.

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.

CELL PHONE INSURANCE

Separate insurance provided to cover cell phones for damage or theft. Policies are often sold with the cell phones themselves

COBRA

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.

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 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 insure

COLLISION COVERAGE

Portion of an auto insurance policy that covers the damage to the policyholder?s car from a collision.

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.

COVERAGE

Synonym for insurance.

CREDIT SCORE

The number produced by an analysis of an individual?s credit history. The use of credit information affects all consumers in many ways, from getting a job, finding a place to live, securing a loan, getting a telephone, 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.

DECLARATION

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."

DEDUCTIBLE

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

DIRECT WRITERS

Insurance companies that sell directly to the public using exclusive agents or their own employees, through the mail, or via Internet. Large insurers, whether predominately direct writers or agency companies, are increasingly using many different channels to sell insurance. In reinsurance, denotes reinsurers that deal directly with the insurance companies they reinsure without using a broker.

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, often by shareholders. Directors and officers insurance policies usually contain two coverages: personal coverage for individual directors and officers who are not indemnified by the corporation for their legal expenses or judgments against them ? some corporations are not required by their corporate or state charters to provide indemnification; and corporate reimbursement coverage for indemnifying directors and officers. Entity coverage for claims made specifically against the company may also be available.

EARNED PREMIUM

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.

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.

EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES LIABILITY COVERAGE

Liability insurance for employers that covers wrongful termination, discrimination, or sexual harassment toward the insured?s employees or former employees.

ENDORSEMENT

A written form attached to an insurance policy that alters the policy?s coverage, terms, or conditions. Sometimes called a rider.

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.

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 non-admitted carrier.

EXCLUSION

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.

EXPERIENCE

Record of losses.

EXPOSURE

Possibility of loss.

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

FAIR ACCESS TO INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS PLANS / FAIR PLANS

Insurance pools that sell property insurance to people who can?t buy it in the voluntary market because of high risk over which they may have no control. FAIR Plans, which exist in 28 states and the District of Columbia, insure fire, vandalism, riot, and windstorm losses, and some sell homeowners insurance which includes liability. Plans vary by state, but all require property insurers licensed in a state to participate in the pool and share in the profits and losses

FEDERAL INSURANCE ADMINISTRATION / FIA

Federal agency in charge of administering the National Flood Insurance Program. It does not regulate the insurance industry.

FIDELITY BOND

A form of protection that covers policyholders for losses that they incur as a result of fraudulent acts by specified individuals. It usually insures a business for losses caused by the dishonest acts of its employees.

FIDUCIARY BOND

A type of surety bond, sometimes called a probate bond, which is required of certain fiduciaries, such as executors and trustees, that guarantees the performance of their responsibilities.

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.

FIRE INSURANCE

Coverage protecting property against losses caused by a fire or lightning that is usually included in homeowners or commercial multiple peril policies.

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.

FLOATER

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

FRAUD

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.

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.

GENERIC AUTO PARTS

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.

GRADUATED DRIVER LICENSES

Licenses for younger drivers that allow them to improve their skills. Regulations vary by state, but often restrict night time driving. Young drivers receive a learner?s permit, followed by a provisional license, before they can receive a standard drivers license.

GRAMM-LEACH-BLILEY ACT

Financial services legislation, passed by Congress in 1999, that removed Depression-era prohibitions against the combination of commercial banking and investment-banking activities. It allows insurance companies, banks, and securities firms to engage in each others? activities and own one another.

GUARANTEED REPLACEMENT COST COVERAGE

Homeowners policy that pays the full cost of replacing or repairing a damaged or destroyed home, even if it is above the policy limit.

HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE POLICY

The typical homeowners insurance policy covers the house, the garage and other structures on the property, as well as personal possessions inside the house such as furniture, appliances and clothing, against a wide variety of perils including windstorms, fire and theft. The extent of the perils covered depends on the type of policy. An all-risk policy offers the broadest coverage. This covers all perils except those specifically excluded in the policy. Homeowners insurance also covers additional living expenses. Known as Loss of Use, this provision in the policy reimburses the policyholder for the extra cost of living elsewhere while the house is being restored after a disaster. The liability portion of the policy covers the homeowner for accidental injuries caused to third parties and/or their property, such as a guest slipping and falling down improperly maintained stairs. Coverage for flood and earthquake damage is excluded and must be purchased separately.

HURRICANE DEDUCTIBLE

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.

INCURRED LOSSES

Losses occurring within a fixed period, whether or not adjusted or paid during the same period.

INDEMNIFY

Provide financial compensation for losses.

INDEPENDENT AGENT

Agent who is self-employed, is paid on commission, and represents several insurance companies

INDIVIDUAL RETIREMENT ACCOUNT/IRA

A tax-deductible savings plan for those who are self-employed, or those whose earnings are below a certain level or whose employers do not offer retirement plans. Others may make limited contributions on a tax-deferred basis. The Roth IRA, a special kind of retirement account created in 1997, may offer greater tax benefits to certain individuals.

INFLATION GUARD CLAUSE

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 tr

INSURABLE RISK

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.

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

INSURANCE SCORE

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.

INSURANCE-TO-VALUE

Insurance written in an amount approximating the value of the insured property.

LIABILITY INSURANCE

Insurance for what the policyholder is legally obligated to pay because of bodily injury or property damage caused to another person.

LIMITS

Maximum amount of insurance that can be paid for a covered loss.

LOSS

A reduction in the quality or value of a property, or a legal liability.

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.

MEDIATION

Nonbinding procedure in which a third party attempts to resolve a conflict between two other parties.

MEDICAL PAYMENTS INSURANCE

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.

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.

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.

MULTIPLE PERIL POLICY

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.

NAMED PERIL

Peril specifically mentioned as covered in an insurance policy

NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM

Federal government-sponsored program under which flood insurance is sold to homeowners and businesses.

NO-FAULT

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-FAULT MEDICAL

A type of accident coverage in homeowners policies.

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.

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..

PACKAGE POLICY

A single insurance policy that combines several coverages previously sold separately. Examples include homeowners insurance and commercial multiple peril insurance.

PERIL

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.

POLICY

A written contract for insurance between an insurance company and policyholder stating details of coverage.

PREMISES

The particular location of the property or a portion of it as designated in an insurance policy.

PREMIUM

The price of an insurance policy, typically charged annually or semiannually.

PROOF OF LOSS

Documents showing the insurance company that a loss occurred.

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.

RATE

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.

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.

REDLINING

Literally means to draw a red line on a map around areas to receive special treatment. Refusal to issue insurance based solely on where applicants live is illegal in all states. Denial of insurance must be risk-based.

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.

RESERVES

A company?s best estimate of what it will pay for claims.

RISK

The chance of loss or the person or entity that is insured

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.

SALVAGE

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.

SCHEDULE

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.

SELF-INSURANCE

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.

SEVERITY

Size of a loss. One of the criteria used in calculating premiums rates.

SEWER BACK-UP COVERAGE

An optional part of homeowners insurance that covers sewers.

STACKING

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.

STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT

Legal agreement to pay a designated person, usually someone who has been injured, a specified sum of money in periodic payments, usually for his or her lifetime, instead of in a single lump sum payment.

SUBROGATION

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.

SURETY BOND

A contract guaranteeing the performance of a specific obligation. Simply put, it is a three-party agreement under which one party, the surety company, answers to a second party, the owner, creditor or "obligee," for a third party's debts, default or nonperformance. Contractors are often required to purchase surety bonds if they are working on public projects. The surety company becomes responsible for carrying out the work or paying for the loss up to the bond "penalty" if the contractor fails to perform.

SURPLUS LINES

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 admit

TERM 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.

TERRITORIAL RATING

A method of classifying risks by geographic location to set a fair price for coverage. The location of the insured may have a considerable impact on the cost of losses. The chance of an accident or theft is much higher in an urban area than in a rural one, for example.

TITLE INSURANCE

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.

TOTAL LOSS

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.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

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.

UNDERINSURANCE

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.

UNDERWRITING

Examining, accepting, or rejecting insurance risks and classifying the ones that are accepted, in order to charge appropriate premiums for them.

UNEARNED PREMIUM

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

UNINSURED MOTORISTS COVERAGE

Portion of an auto insurance policy that protects a policyholder from uninsured and hit-and-run drivers.

VANDALISM

The malicious and often random destruction or spoilage of another person?s property.

VOID

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

VOLCANO COVERAGE

Most homeowners policies cover damage from a volcanic eruption

WAIVER

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.

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 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.

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.

WRITE

To insure, underwrite, or accept an application for insurance