Home Insurance Glossary Of Terms


      • Accelerated Benefits Rider

        A life insurance rider that allows for the early payment of some portion of the policy’s face amount should the insured suffer from a terminal illness or injury.
      • Act Of God

        An unpreventable accident or event that is the result of natural causes; for example, floods, earthquakes, or lightning.
      • Agent

        An authorized representative of an insurance company who sells and services insurance contracts.
      • Appraisal

        This term can be used in 2 different ways, First a survey by a claims representative or claims appraiser estimating the amount of damage to property and the cost to repair or the determination of a complete loss. Second would be a certified Appraisal on items that you would like sheduled such as Jewlery, Silver, Gold, etc.
      • Assessed Value

        The monetary worth of real or personal property as a basis for its taxation. This value, established by a governmental agency, is rarely used by insurers as a means to determine indemnification.
      • Asset Risk

        A measure of an asset’s default of principal or interest or fluctuation in market value as a result of changes in the market.
      • Avalanche

        A slippage of built-up snow down an incline possibly mixed with ice, rock, and soil or plant life in what is called a debris avalanche. Avalanches are a major danger in the mountains during the winter as a large one can run for miles, and can create massive destruction of the lowered forest and anything else in its path.


      • Backdating

        A procedure for making the effective date of a policy earlier than the application date. Backdating is often used to make the age of the consumer at issue lower than it actually was in order to get lower premium. State laws often limit to six months the time to which policies can be backdated. On Property and casualty policies it is rare that the company will allow backdating of a policy.
      • BCEGS

        Building Code Effectiveness Grading Schedule. A classification of communities by the Insurance Services Office based on how well they have implemented and enforced building codes in their community.
      • Binder

        A temporary insurance form that is issued at the time of the application providing proof of coverage. It expires at the end of a specific time period or when the permanent policy is issued by the company.
      • Broad Form Insurance

        There are 3 types of property policies. Basic, Broad and Special. Broad form insurance provides a certian number of named perils. This type of form is used rarely as the Special form is used by most companies for standard property Coverage.


      • Cancellation

        Termination of policy during the policy term.
      • Cataclysm

        Any great upheaval that causes sudden and violent changes, as an earthquake, war, great flood, etc.
      • Conditional Receipt

        Given to policy owners when they pay a premium at time of application. Such receipts bind the insurance company if the risk is approved as applied for, subject to any other conditions stated on the receipt.
      • Coverage

        Another word for insurance. Insurance companies use the term coverage to mean either the dollar amounts of insurance purchased ($200,000 of liability coverage), or the type of loss covered (coverage for theft).


      • Decaration Page

        This is the form attached to the front of the policy and identifys the policy terms, Coverage limits, endorsements, Insured and Premium.
      • Deductible

        An amount that an individual must pay for covered services before the insurance company will begin to make payments.
      • Depreciation

        A decrease in the value of a property due to wear and tear or obsolescence.


      • Endorsement

        Addition to the insurance policy that changes or adds to the provisions or coverage of the insurance policy.
      • Exclusions

        Certain causes and conditions listed in the policy that are not covered.


      • Funeral Expenses

        Expenses incurred for a funeral and burial. These can include casket, vault, grave plot, headstone and funeral director.


      • In Force

        Insurance on which the premiums are being paid or have been fully paid. The policy has not expired.
      • Independent Agent

        An agent who represents more than one insurer.
      • Inflation Protection

        A policy option that provides for increases in benefit levels to help pay for expected increases in the costs of property repairs because of inflation.
      • Insurance

        A formal social device for reducing risk by transferring the risks of several individual entities to an insurer. The insurer agrees, for a consideration, to pay for the loss in the amount specified in the contract.
      • Insurance Policy

        The printed form which serves as the contract between an insurer and an insured.
      • Insured

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

        Party that provides insurance coverage, typically through a contract of insurance.


      • Lapse

        Termination of a policy upon the policy owner’s failure to pay the premium and the date that the policy is re-written. The time frame in the middle is the lapse of coverage. No coverage provided during a lapse.


      • Market Value

        A term that describes what the current value of what you’re insuring would be if you were to sell it.
      • Medical

        A document completed by a physician or another approved examiner and submitted to an insurer to supply medical evidence of insurability (or lack of insurability) or in relation to a claim.
      • Medical Expenses

        Reasonable charges for medical, surgical, x-ray, dental, ambulance, hospital, professional nursing, prosthetic devices, and funeral expenses. (The insurance company defines what is reasonable.)
      • Misrepresentation

        Act of making, issuing, circulating or causing to be issued or circulated an estimate, an illustration, a circular or a statement of any kind that does not represent the correct policy terms, dividends or share of surplus or the name or title for any policy or class of policies that does not in fact reflect its true nature.


      • Non-Renew

        Insurance company action to not extend coverage beyond the current policy term. Companies may only non-renew coverage after making appropriate notices to policyholders


      • Offer and Acceptance

        The offer may be made by the applicant signing the application, paying the first premium and, if necessary, submitting to physical examination. Policy issuance, as applied for, constitutes acceptance by the company. Or the offer may be made by the company when no premium payment is submitted with the application. Premium payment on the offered policy then constitutes acceptance by the applicant.


      • Personal Property

        All tangible property not permanently attached to real property. Like an automoble and everything attached to it are considered personal property.
      • Policy

        The printed document issued to the policyholder by the company stating the terms of the insurance contract.
      • Policy Holder

        The person who is insured by an insurance policy. This is usually the insured person, but it may also be a relative of the insured, a partnership or a corporation.
      • Preferred Risk

        A risk whose physical condition, occupation, mode of living and other characteristics indicate a prospect for longevity superior to that of the average longevity of unimpaired lives of the same age.
      • Premium

        The amount of money an insurance company charges, based on a given rate, to provide the coverage described in the policy for a specified period of time, generally one year.
      • Primary Policy

        The insurance policy that pays first when you have a loss that’s covered by more than one policy.
      • Probate Costs

        The legal fees and other costs incurred in the probate process, which is the legal processing of your will. Assets that you leave to other people through your will cannot be distributed until the will is probated.
      • Property Coverage

        Protection against the loss or damage to real (structure such as building) or personal property caused by specific perils covered in the insurance policy or contract.
      • Provisions

        Statements contained in an insurance policy which explain the benefits, conditions and other features of the insurance contract.


      • Reinstatement

        Putting a lapsed policy back in force by producing satisfactory evidence of insurability and paying any past-due premiums required.
      • Replacement Policy

        A new policy written to take the place of one currently in force.
      • Replacement Cost Coverage

        Coverage for the cost to completely replace your insured item or any part of it.
      • Representation

        Statements made by applicants on their applications for insurance that they represent as being substantially true to the best of their knowledge and belief but that are not warranted as exact in every detail.
      • Retention

        Unlike a deductible which is taken from each and every claim, a Retention limit is what must be paid by the insured only if coverage is available on the umbrella and not the underlying policy.
      • Rider

        An attachment to a policy that modifies its conditions by expanding or restricting benefits or excluding certain conditions from coverage. Sometimse refered to as an endorsement
      • Risk

        The chance of injury, damage, or loss.
      • Risk Selection

        The method a home office underwriter uses to choose applicants that the insurance company will accept. The underwriter must determine whether risks are standard, substandard or preferred and set the premium rates accordingly.


      • Standard Risk

        Person who, according to a company’s underwriting standards, is entitled to insurance protection without extra rating or special restrictions.
      • Subrogation

        The right of the company to step into the shoes of the insured, following payment of a claim, to recover the payment from a third party responsible for the loss. Subrogation is limited to the amount paid on the policy.
      • Substandard Risk

        Person, property or automobile that is considered a hazzard because of condition, location or some other factor that makes the risk lower than the standard or norm.


      • Term

        Period for which the policy runs. In life insurance, this is to the end of the term period for term insurance.


      • Umbrella Policy

        Is an excess liability policy which will extend coverage over and above certian policies. Example: A persaonl umbrella will provide additional liability coverage over and above your Home, Personal Rental Property, Auto and Watercraft. Before an umbrella will respond, an underlying policy must be in place with the required underlying limits. The Umbrella limits provided start at $1,000,000 and will be increased in increments of $1,000,000 for an additional premium.
      • Underlying Limits

        The limits that must be maintained on a policy before the Umbrella policy will respond.
      • Underwriter

        Company receiving premiums and accepting responsibility for fulfilling the policy contract. Also, company employee who decides whether the company should assume a particular risk; or the agent who sells the policy.
      • Underwriting

        The process of examining, accepting or rejecting insurance risks, and classifying those selected, in order to charge the proper premium for each.
      • Uninsurable Risk

        A person who is not acceptable for insurance due to excessive risk.


      • Waiver of Premium

        Rider or provision included in most life insurance policies exempting the insured from paying premiums after he or she has been disabled for a specified period of time, usually six months.
      • Without Prejudice

        Occasionally claims may be paid which the underwriter feels are not actually covered by the policy. Such payments are “without prejudice” and are not to be treated as a precedent for future similar claims.