The insurance industry is full of unique insurance terms. Understanding the insurance terms and definitions can help you as you are considering important insurance coverages for your protection. It is important to understand that some terms and the availability may vary by state. Policy exclusions may also apply.
The insurance terms, definitions and explanations are intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for insurance contracts. Your individual insurance contracts, policies or declaration pages are the controlling documents from your insurance company. Please read your official policy for full details about coverages or contact Big Pine Insurance Agency to learn more. Below are some key insurance terms and definitions you might encounter as you review your insurance needs.
- A-SHARE VARIABLE ANNUITY
A form of variable annuity contract where the contract holder pays sales charges up front rather than eventually having to pay a surrender charge.
- 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.
- ACCOUNT RECEIVABLES
- ACTUAL CASH VALUE
A form of insurance that pays damages equal to the replacement value of damaged property minus depreciation. (See Replacement cost )
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.
- ADMITTED ASSETS
Assets recognized and accepted by state insurance laws in determining the solvency of insurers and reinsurers. To make it easier to assess an insurance company’s financial position, state statutory accounting rules do not permit certain assets to be included on the balance sheet. Only assets that can be easily sold in the event of liquidation or borrowed against, and receivables for which payment can be reasonably anticipated, are included in admitted assets. (See Assets )
- ADMITTED COMPANY
An insurance company licensed and authorized to do business in a particular state.
- 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.
- AFFINITY SALES
Selling insurance through groups such as professional and business associations.
- AFTERMARKET PARTS
See Crash parts; Generic auto parts
- AGENCY COMPANIES
Companies that market and sell products via independent agents.
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.
- ALIEN INSURANCE COMPANY
An insurance company incorporated under the laws of a foreign country, as opposed to a “foreign” insurance company which does business in states outside its own.
- ALLIED LINES
Property insurance that is usually bought in conjunction with fire insurance; it includes wind, water damage and vandalism coverage.
- ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION / ADR
An alternative to going to court to settle disputes. Methods include arbitration, where disputing parties agree to be bound to the decision of an independent third party, and mediation, where a third party tries to arrange a settlement between the two sides.
- ALTERNATIVE MARKETS
Nontraditional mechanisms used to finance risk. This includes captives, which are insurers owned by one or more non-insurers to provide owners with coverage. Risk-retention groups, formed by members of similar professions or businesses to obtain liability insurance and selfinsurance, are also included.
- ANNUAL ANNUITY CONTRACT FEE
Covers the cost of administering an annuity contract.
- ANNUAL STATEMENT
Summary of an insurer’s or reinsurer’s financial operations for a particular year, including a balance sheet. It is filed with the state insurance department of each jurisdiction in which the company is licensed to conduct business.
The person who receives the income from an annuity contract. Usually the owner of the contract or his or her spouse.
The conversion of the account balance of a deferred annuity contract to income payments.
A life insurance product that pays periodic income benefits for a specific period of time or over the course of the annuitant’s lifetime. There are two basic types of annuities: deferred and immediate. Deferred annuities allow assets to grow tax-deferred over time before being converted to payments to the annuitant. Immediate annuities allow payments to begin within about a year of purchase.
- ANNUITY ACCUMULATION PHASE OR PERIOD
The period during which the owner of a deferred annuity makes payments to build up assets.
- ANNUITY ADMINISTRATIVE CHARGES
Covers the cost of customer services for owners of variable annuities.
- ANNUITY BENEFICIARY
In certain types of annuities, a person who receives annuity contract payments if the annuity owner or annuitant dies while payments are still due.
- ANNUITY CONTRACT
An agreement similar to an insurance policy for other insurance products such as auto insurance.
- ANNUITY CONTRACT OWNER
The person or entity that purchases an annuity and has all rights to the contract. Usually, but not always, the annuitant (the person who receives incomes from the contract).
- ANNUITY DEATH BENEFITS
The guarantee that if an annuity contract owner dies before annuitization (the switchover from the savings to the payment phase) the beneficiary will receive the value of the annuity that is due.
- ANNUITY INSURANCE CHARGES
Covers administrative and mortality and expense risk costs.
- ANNUITY INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT FEE
The fee paid for the management of variable annuity invested assets.
- ANNUITY ISSUER
The insurance company that issues the annuity.
- ANNUITY PROSPECTUS
Legal document providing detailed information about variable annuity contracts. Must be offered to each prospective buyer.
- ANNUITY PURCHASE RATE
The cost of an annuity based on such factors as the age and gender of the contract owner.
- 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.
A survey to determine a property’s insurable value, or the amount of a 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.
The deliberate setting of a fire.
- ASSET-BACKED SECURITIES
Bonds that represent pools of loans of similar types, duration and interest rates. Almost any loan with regular repayments of principal and interest can be securitized, from auto loans and equipment leases to credit card receivables and mortgages.
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. (See Admitted assets )
- 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.
Glossary terms and definitions provide a brief review of common insurance terms and definitions used in the insurance industry. Some terms and definitions may vary by state or may not be applicable for all insurance and financial products. This glossary is not an insurance contract. Other terms, conditions and exclusions may apply to your individual insurance contracts. These definitions do not alter or modify the terms of any insurance contract. Your personal insurance contracts are the controlling documents. Additionally, this informational resource is provided as a learning tool and does not replace your rights and obligations or the rights and obligations of the insurance company, agent or agency. If you have questions you should consult with your insurance agent, your insurance company and review the policy language of your insurance contract.
Glossary content provided by Insurance Information Institute