Most of the definitions below are provided courtesy of the Insurance Institute of Canada. Definitions provided by Insurance Bureau of Canada are indicated with an asterisk ("*").
The language of insurance can be quite complex and confusing. Below are some commonly used insurance terms and their meanings. Insurance professionals with whom you may come into contact should be prepared to explain these terms. If you don't understand, ask!
This information is for educational purposes only and should not be relied upon to form professional opinions on coverage issues.
- Absolute liability*
- The liability of a wrongdoer's automobile insurance company to pay someone harmed by the wrongdoer, even if the wrongdoer has violated the terms of the insurance policy, for example, by driving with an expired license. This is subject to a limit, usually $200,000, and the requirement that the wrongdoer in violation of the contract must reimburse the insurer.
- An event that happens by chance and is not expected in the normal course of events, which results in harm to people, damage to property or equipment, or a loss of process or productivity.
- Accident Benefits (AB)*
- The part of auto insurance that provides medical care and income replacement benefits to insured persons injured in a car collision, regardless of who caused the accident. In some parts of the country, this is referred to as "Section B."
- Accident Benefits (AB) - CLEAR*
- The relative index based on the frequency of Accident Benefits (personal injury) claims.
- Accounts Receivable Coverage*
- This coverage can protect a business owner if he or she is unable to collect outstanding balances as a result of lost or damaged account records.
- Actual Cash Value
- The fair market value of property taking into account factors that might augment or reduce the value of the property in question.
- A certified professional who specializes in mathematics of insurance and evaluates statistical information to determine rates and risks.
- Additional Insured
- A person other than the named insured who is protected by the terms of the policy. Most automobile policies, for example, insure a specific individual as an insured, but also insure anyone driving with that insured's consent. The additional insured may be "named" or "unnamed."
- Additional Living Expense Insurance
- Coverage applicable when an insured's dwelling is damaged by an insured peril to such an extent that one cannot live in it until repaired. This insurance pays the extra amount it costs to live elsewhere until repairs are made, such as the cost of living in a hotel.
- Additional Premium*
- An extra charge for an alteration, during the policy period, which increases the hazard or the insurance company's liability. For example, if you installed a wood stove in your home, you would be charged an additional premium
- An adjuster reviews and settles claims on behalf of the insurance company. The adjuster could be an employee of the insurance company or an independent contractor hired by the company.
- The process of reviewing and settling losses with or by an insurance company.
- An individual authorized by an insurance company to create, modify, and terminate contracts of insurance or to arrange to do so or to advise on contracts of insurance.
- All-risk (All-perils) Policy*
- See Comprehensive Auto Insurance.
- The person or firm requesting insurance.
- A request for insurance. This may be done verbally, in writing or by using a printed form.
- A valuation or an estimation of the value of property usually done by an expert in that field who has no personal interest in the property.
- Appraisal Clause
- A clause in an insurance policy that gives the insurer the right to demand an appraisal on the damaged property. It gives both the insurer and insured a means of settling disputes over the value of lost or damaged property.
- To set and state in writing the true value of property.
- Person who because of special knowledge is vested with authority in determining the real value of property or damage.
- An alternative to litigation for resolving a dispute between an insurer and its customer or between insurers. An unbiased person or panel is appointed to review the case and determine responsibility for paying for the loss or the amount to be paid.
- Arbitration Clause
- A clause in an insurance policy, reinsurance contract, or other contract that provides arbitration in the event of a disagreement.
- A person or persons (usually three) chosen by the parties to a dispute to hear their matter of contention and to then render judgment. The parties submit themselves in advance either voluntarily or compulsorily to the arbitrator's decision.
- The status of a policy on which the premiums are overdue and unpaid but are still considered collectible.
- The willful and malicious burning of property.
- As Their Interest May Appear
- Phrase commonly used in the loss payable section of an insurance policy where the insurable interest in a property is either unknown or presently unascertainable, e.g., "Loss payable to A and B as their interest may appear." This leaves the whole question of title to the insurance monies to be settled between the insured and the person whose name appears in the loss payable portion of the policy.
- Assigner or Assignor
- One who transfers, designates or assigns property to another.
- Legal transference; the transfer of an entire interest from one party to another. Insurance policies are personal contracts and are not transferable except to spouse unless special consent of the insurance company is granted.
- 1) To undertake or promise. In insurance, a company or an underwriter "assumes" a risk when he agrees to insure it. That is when insurance attaches.
2) Common usage pertains to acceptance of a risk by a reinsurer from an insurer.
- Assumed Liability (Contractual Liability)*
- Liability for which a person has accepted responsibility by entering into an expressed or implied contract.
- Assumption of Risk
- 1) The legal doctrine of assumption of risk, also known as "volenti non fit injuria," where a person knows of the facts and existence of a dangerous condition and voluntarily exposes himself to it.
2) The accepting of a risk by an insurance company.
- Same as Insurance.
- Same as Insured.
- Same as Insurer.
- The power or right to act on behalf of another.
- Automatic Reinstatement
- After a claim has been paid or the property restored, most policies automatically return the stated limit of insurance to its original amount.
- Automobile Insurance
- Insurance coverage that provides indemnity and/or compensation for injury or physical damage which ensues from the ownership, use or operation of an automobile.
- Avoidance of risk*
- Taking steps to remove a hazard, engage in an alternative activity, or otherwise end a specific exposure.
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