Insurance 101

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Insurance 101

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Reading an insurance policy from front to back is not a common practice by most consumers; however, doing so will educate you on your policy terms and coverages so you can confirm that you’re receiving the protection you really need.

Insurance 101 is designed to help simplify the definitions of insurance terms commonly used in the business. We do encourage you to speak with an insurance agent to answer any of your questions or provide the additional information.

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Actual Cash Value

The value of the insured property, in dollars, at the time of loss. This amount is whatever it will cost to replace the property, minus a deduction for depreciation (age, wear and tear, etc.)


The person who handles the settlement of a claim on behalf of the insurance company, either as an employee of the company or an independent engaged by contract. Also known as a claim representative.


A legal agreement between an insurance buyer and an insurance company or its agent. It provides temporary insurance coverage until a policy is either issued or refused.

Bodily Injury

Injury to the body of a person as specifically defined in an insurance policy. Bodily injury liability is the legal responsibility for medical and related costs that may result from injury to the life or health of another person.


The guarantee to pay if specific losses occur, according to the terms of the insurance policy.


The estimated or claimed amount of money due in reparation for injury or loss suffered.


Normally the first page of a policy, it includes the insured's name, how long the coverage applies and how much insurance is being provided. Also called the declarations page.


A specified amount that is deducted from a loss before policy coverage begins. (Example: Auto insured on a policy with a $250 deductible sustains $1,000 in damage, then the policyholder pays the first $250 and the insurance company pays the $750 balance.)


An amendment to an insurance policy to provide coverage for special circumstances not included in the basic contract, usually for an additional premium.


Provisions of an insurance policy that state what the company will not pay for.


The day and hour when the policy will terminate if not canceled earlier or continued by payment of renewal premium.


Refers to the possibility of loss faced by the policyholder (Example: Having a fireplace in the home presents a higher exposure due to the possibility of a fire.)


The person on whom, or on whose property, the insurance is written. Most often this will be the policyholder.


Expiration or cancellation of an insurance policy by nonpayment of premium.


A condition of being bound by law to do something, enforceable in the courts. For insurance purposes it most often involves the payment of damages.


A hold or claim one party has on the property of another, usually as security for a debt or other obligation. An example would be a home mortgage.


The largest total amount the insurance company will pay for covered losses. Many policies have multiple limits a certain amount per person, another amount per accident, and sometimes an aggregate limit on all losses paid during the policy term.


The basis of a claim for indemnity, most often referring to a financial loss through a decrease in the quantity, quality or value of insured property, due to an occurrence insured against by the policy.


An accidental event, or series of events, that leads to a loss.


The money paid for an insurance policy.


The person who applied for, pays for, and is issued the insurance policy.

Proof of Loss

A written statement, with supporting documentation (if any) provided to the insurance company as a basis for paying a claim.

Replacement Cost Coverage

This provision, sometimes included in the basic policy and sometimes added by endorsement, covers replacement of the property lost without a deduction for depreciation.

Scheduled Personal Property

A listing of specific items of property covered by endorsement to an insurance policy, stating the exact dollar value of each. Typically includes jewelry, collectibles, antiques, guns, etc.

Policy Term

The period of time that an insurance policy is to continue in force. For property insurance, the most common term is one year.


The surrender of the right or the release of another from an obligation.

Insurance 101

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