Glossary of Insurance Terms

Insurance Policies are very complicated and can be interpreted differently, Request your Complimentary Claim Consultation with a Licensed Public Adjuster!

Actual Cash Value – Cost of replacing damaged or destroyed property with comparable new property, minus depreciation and obsolescence. For example, a 10-year-old roof would not be replaced at current full value because of a decade of depreciation.

Actuary – A specialist in the mathematics of insurance who calculates rates, reserves, dividends and other statistics.

Adjuster – A representative who seeks to determine the extent of the insurer’s liability for loss when a claim is submitted.  There are 3 types of adjusters:

  1. Independent Adjuster:  An Adjuster Working as an Independent Contractor representing one or many different insurance companies.  They are commonly used during catastrophes when the insurance companies staff of adjusters is not enough to handle the claim volume.
  2. Staff Adjuster:  An Adjuster employed directly by a particular Insurance Company.
  3. Public Adjuster:  The only type of Adjuster hired directly by the insured to represent their interests in the claim.  Public Adjusters are typically paid on a contingency fee based on a small percentage of the settlement recovered from the Insurance Company.

Admitted Assets – Assets permitted by state law to be included in an insurance company’s annual statement. These assets are an important factor when regulators measure insurance company solvency. They include mortgages, stocks, bonds and real estate.

Agent -individual who sells and services insurance policies in either of two classifications:

  1. Independent agent represents at least two insurance companies and services clients by searching the market for the most advantageous price for the most coverage. The agent’s commission is a percentage of each premium paid and includes a fee for servicing the insured’s policy.
  2. Direct or career agent represents only one company and sells only its policies. This agent is paid on a commission basis in much the same manner as the independent agent.

Aggregate Limit – Usually refers to liability insurance and indicates the amount of coverage that the insured has under the contract for a specific period of time, usually the contract period, no matter how many separate accidents might occur.

Annuity – An agreement by an insurer to make periodic payments that continue during the survival of the annuitant(s) or for a specified period.

Appraisal When dealing with an insurance claim when the insured and the insurer or insurance company are unable to come to an agreement as to the value of the loss in most policies there is an option for Appraisal.  In this process you will each name your own appraiser (we can perform this service for the Insureds) and the 2 appraisers will mutually select an umpire.  If the 2 appraisers are unable to come to an agreement on the value of the loss they will each present their appraisal to the umpire, any 2 of the 3 sign off on the award and it is finalized.  Each party pays for their own appraiser and split all additional costs of the appraisal.  More information on appraisal may be found in your policy.

Assets – Assets refer to “all the available properties of every kind or possession of an insurance company that might be used to pay its debts.” There are three classifications of assets: invested assets, all other assets, and total admitted assets. Invested assets refer to things such as bonds, stocks, cash and income-producing real estate. All other assets refer to non-income producing possessions such as the building the company occupies, office furniture, and debts owed, usually in the form of deferred and unpaid premiums. Total admitted assets refer to everything a company owns. All other plus invested assets equal total admitted assets.  By law, some states don’t permit insurance companies to claim certain goods and possessions, such as deferred and unpaid premiums, in the all other assets category, declaring them “non-admissable.”

Balance Sheet – An accounting term referring to a listing of a company’s assets, liabilities and surplus as of a specific date.

Broker – Insurance salesperson that searches the marketplace in the interest of clients, not insurance companies.

Broker-Agent – Independent insurance salesperson whom represents particular insurers but also might function as a broker by searching the entire insurance market to place an applicant’s coverage to maximize protection and minimize cost. This person is licensed as an agent and a broker.

Capital – Equity of shareholders of a stock insurance company. The company’s capital and surplus are measured by the difference between its assets minus its liabilities. This value protects the interests of the company’s policyowners in the event it develops financial problems; the policyowners’ benefits are thus protected by the insurance company’s capital. Shareholders’ interest is second to that of policyowners.

Capitalization or Leverage – Measures the exposure of a company’s surplus to various operating and financial practices. A highly leveraged, or poorly capitalized, company can show a high return on surplus, but might be exposed to a high risk of instability.

Captive Agent – Representative of a single insurer or fleet of insurers who is obliged to submit business only to that company, or at the very minimum, give that company first refusal rights on a sale. In exchange, that insurer usually provides its captive agents with an allowance for office expenses as well as an extensive list of employee benefits such as pensions, life insurance, health insurance, and credit unions.

Casualty – Liability or loss resulting from an accident.

Casualty Insurance – That type of insurance that is primarily concerned with losses caused by injuries to persons and legal liability imposed upon the insured for such injury or for damage to property of others. It also includes such diverse forms as plate glass, insurance against crime, such as robbery, burglary and forgery, boiler and machinery insurance and Aviation insurance. Many casualty companies also write surety business.

Change in Net Premiums Written (IRIS) – The annual percentage change in Net Premiums Written. A company should demonstrate its ability to support controlled business growth with quality surplus growth from strong internal capital generation.

Change in Policyholder Surplus (IRIS) – The percentage change in policyholder surplus from the prior year-end derived from operating earnings, investment gains, net contributed capital and other miscellaneous sources. This ratio measures a company’s ability to increase policyholders’ security.

Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) -Professional designation earned after the successful completion of 10 national examinations given by the American Institute for Property and Liability Underwriters.

Claim – A demand made by the insured, or the insured’s beneficiary, for payment of the benefits as provided by the policy.

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% health insurance coinsurance clause, the policyholder pays for the deductible plus 20% of his covered losses. After paying 80% of losses up to a specified ceiling, the insurer starts paying 100% of losses.

Commercial Lines – Refers to insurance for businesses, professionals and commercial establishments.

Comprehensive Insurance – Auto insurance coverage providing protection in the event of physical damage (other than collision) or theft of the insured car. For example, fire damage or a cracked windshield would be covered under the comprehensive section.

Coverage – The scope of protection provided under an insurance policy. In property insurance, coverage lists perils insured against, properties covered, locations covered, individuals insured, and the limits of indemnification. In life insurance, living and death benefits are listed.

Current Liquidity (IRIS) – The sum of cash, unaffiliated invested assets and encumbrances on other properties to net liabilities plus ceded reinsurance balances payable, expressed as a percent. This ratio measures the proportion of liabilities covered by unencumbered cash and unaffiliated investments. If this ratio is less than 100, the company’s solvency is dependent on the collectibility or marketability of premium balances and investments in affiliates. This ratio assumes the collectibility of all amounts recoverable from reinsurers on paid and unpaid losses and unearned premiums.

Death Benefit – The limit of insurance or the amount of benefit that will be paid in the event of the death of a covered person.

Deductible – Amount of loss that the insured pays before the insurance kicks in.

Earned Premium – The amount of the premium that as been paid for in advance that has been “earned” by virtue of the fact that time has passed without claim. A three-year policy that has been paid in advance and is one year old would have only partly earned the premium.

Elimination Period – The amount of time which must pass after filing a claim before policyholder can collect insurance benefits.  Also known as a “waiting period.”

Exclusions – Items or conditions that are not covered by the general insurance contract.

Expense Ratio – The ratio of underwriting expenses  to net premiums written. This ratio measures the company’s operational efficiency in underwriting its book of business.

Exposure – Measure of vulnerability to loss, usually expressed in dollars or units.

Extended Replacement Cost – This option extends replacement cost loss settlement to personal property and to outdoor antennas, carpeting, domestic appliances, cloth awnings, and outdoor equipment, subject to limitations on certain kinds of personal property; includes inflation protection coverage.

Floater – A separate policy available to cover the value of goods beyond the coverage of a standard insurance policy including movable property such as jewelry, antiques, collectibles, firearms, etc…

General Liability Insurance -Insurance designed to protect business owners and operators from a wide variety of liability exposures. Exposures could include liability arising from accidents resulting from the insured’s premises or operations, products sold by the insured, operations completed by the insured, and contractual liability.

Grace Period – The length of time (usually 31 days) after a premium is due and unpaid during which the policy, including all riders, remains in force. If a premium is paid during the grace period, the premium is considered to have been paid on time. In Universal Life policies, it typically provides for coverage to remain in force for 60 days following the date cash value becomes insufficient to support the payment of monthly insurance costs.

Florida Insurance Guaranty Association – An organization of insurance companies within a state responsible for covering the financial obligations of a member company that becomes insolvent.

Hazard – A circumstance that increases the likelihood or probable severity of a loss. For example, the storing of explosives in a home basement is a hazard that increases the probability of an explosion.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) – Prepaid group health insurance plan that entitles members to services of participating physicians, hospitals and clinics. Emphasis is on preventative medicine, and members must use contracted health-care providers.

Hurricane Deductible – Amount you must pay out-of-pocket before hurricane insurance will kick in. Many insurers in hurricane-prone states are selling homeowners insurance policies with percentage deductibles for storm damage, instead of the traditional dollar deductibles used for claims such as fire and theft. Percentage deductibles vary from one percent of a home’s insured value to 15 percent, depending on many factors that differ by state and insurer.

Impaired Insurer – An insurer which is in financial difficulty to the point where its ability to meet financial obligations or regulatory requirements is in question.

Indemnity – Restoration to the victim of a loss by payment, repair or replacement back to the “Pre-Loss Condition”

Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) – Formerly the Independent Insurance Agents of America (IIAA), this is a member organization of independent agents and brokers monitoring and affecting industry issues. Numerous state associations are affiliated with the IIABA.

Inflation Protection – An optional property coverage endorsement offered by some insurers that increases the policy’s limits of insurance during the policy term to keep pace with inflation.

Insurable Interest – Interest in property such that loss or destruction of the property could cause a financial loss.

Insurance Adjuster – A representative of the insurer who seeks to determine the extent of the insurer’s liability for loss when a claim is submitted. Independent insurance adjusters are hired by insurance companies on an “as needed” basis and might work for several insurance companies at the same time. Independent adjusters charge insurance companies both by the hour and by miles traveled. Public adjusters work for the insured in the settlement of claims and receive a percentage of the claim as their fee.

Insurance Attorneys – An attorney who practices the law as it relates to insurance matters. Attorneys might be solo practitioners or work as part of a law firm. Insurance companies who retain attorneys to defend them against law suits might hire staff attorneys to work for them in-house or they might retain attorneys on an as-needed basis.

Insurance Institute of America (IIA) – An organization which develops programs and conducts national examinations in general insurance, risk management, management, adjusting, underwriting, auditing and loss control management.

Investment Income – The return received by insurers from their investment portfolios including interest, dividends and realized capital gains on stocks. It doesn’t include the value of any stocks or bonds that the company currently owns.

Investments in Affiliates – Bonds, stocks, collateral loans, short-term investments in affiliated and real estate properties occupied by the company.

Insurance Regulatory Information System (IRIS) – Introduced by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 1974 to identify insurance companies that might require further regulatory review.

Liability – Any legally enforceable obligation. The term is most commonly used in a pecuniary sense.

Liability Insurance – Insurance that pays and renders service on behalf of an insured for loss arising out of his responsibility, due to negligence, to others imposed by law or assumed by contract.

Licensed – Indicates the company is incorporated (or chartered) in another state but is a licensed (admitted) insurer for this state to write specific lines of business for which it qualifies.

Licensed for Reinsurance Only – Indicates the company is a licensed (admitted) insurer to write reinsurance on risks in this state.

Living Benefits – This feature allows you, under certain circumstances, to receive the proceeds of your life insurance policy before you die. Such circumstances include terminal or catastrophic illness, the need for long-term care, or confinement to a nursing home. Also known as “accelerated death benefits.”

Lloyd’s – Generally refers to Lloyd’s of London, England, an institution within which individual underwriters accept or reject the risks offered to them. The Lloyd’s Corp. provides the support facility for their activities.

Lloyds Organizations – These organizations are voluntary unincorporated associations of individuals. Each individual assumes a specified portion of the liability under each policy issued. The underwriters operate through a common attorney-in-fact appointed for this purpose by the underwriters. The laws of most states contain some provisions governing the formation and operation of such organizations, but these laws don’t generally provide as strict a supervision and control as the laws dealing with incorporated stock and mutual insurance companies.

Loss Adjustment Expenses – Expenses incurred to investigate and settle losses.

Loss and Loss-Adjustment Reserves to Policyholder Surplus Ratio – The higher the multiple of loss reserves to surplus, the more a company’s solvency is dependent upon having and maintaining reserve adequacy.

Losses and LossAdjustment Expenses – This represents the total reserves for unpaid losses and loss-adjustment expenses, including reserves for any incurred but not reported losses, and supplemental reserves established by the company. It is the total for all lines of business and all accident years.

Loss Control – All methods taken to reduce the frequency and/or severity of losses including exposure avoidance, loss prevention, loss reduction, segregation of exposure units and noninsurance transfer of risk. A combination of risk control techniques with risk financing techniques forms the nucleus of a risk management program.  Avoidance of risk, loss control, risk retention, self insuring, and other techniques that minimize the risks of a business, individual, or organization.

Loss Ratio – The ratio of incurred losses and loss-adjustment expenses to net premiums earned. This ratio measures the company’s underlying profitability, or loss experience, on its total book of business.

Loss Reserve – The estimated liability, as it would appear in an insurer’s financial statement, for unpaid insurance claims or losses that have occurred as of a given evaluation date. Usually includes losses incurred but not reported (IBNR), losses due but not yet paid, and amounts not yet due. For individual claims, the loss reserve is the estimate of what will ultimately be paid out on that claim.

Mortgage Insurance Policy – In life and health insurance, a policy covering a mortgagor with benefits intended to pay off the balance due on a mortgage upon the insured’s death, or to meet the payments due on a mortgage in case of the insured’s death or disability.

Mutual Insurance Companies – Companies with no capital stock, and owned by policyholders. The earnings of the company, over and above the payments of the losses, operating expenses and reserves–are the property of the policyholders. There are two types of mutual insurance companies. A non assessable mutual charges a fixed premium and the policyholders cannot be assessed further. Legal reserves and surplus are maintained to provide payment of all claims. Assessable mutuals are companies that charge an initial fixed premium and, if that isn’t sufficient, might assess policyholders to meet losses in excess of the premiums that have been charged.

Named Perils – Perils specifically covered on insured property.

National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) – Association of state insurance commissioners whose purpose is to promote uniformity of insurance regulation, monitor insurance solvency and develop model laws for passage by state legislatures.

Noncancellable – Contract terms, including costs that can never be changed.

Occurrence – An event that results in an insured loss. In some lines of business, such as liability, an occurrence is distinguished from accident in that the loss doesn’t have to be sudden and fortuitous and can result from continuous or repeated exposure which results in bodily injury or property damage neither expected not intended by the insured.

Peril – The cause of a possible loss.

Personal Injury Protection – Pays basic expenses for an insured and his or her family in states with no-fault auto insurance. No-fault laws generally require drivers to carry both liability insurance and personal injury protection coverage to pay for basic needs of the insured, such as medical expenses, in the event of an accident.

Personal Lines – Insurance for individuals and families, such as private-passenger auto and homeowners insurance.

Policy – The written contract effecting insurance, or the certificate thereof, by whatever name called, and including all clause, riders, endorsements, and papers attached thereto and made a part thereof.

Pre-Existing Condition – A coverage limitation included in many health policies which states that certain physical or mental conditions, either previously diagnosed or which would normally be expected to require treatment prior to issue, will not be covered under the new policy for a specified period of time.

Preferred Provider Organization – Network of medical providers who charge on a fee-for-service basis, but are paid on a negotiated, discounted fee schedule.

Premium – The price of insurance protection for a specified risk for a specified period of time.

Qualifying Event – An occurrence that triggers an insured’s protection.

Quick Assets – Assets that are quickly convertible into cash.

Reinsurance – In effect, insurance that an insurance company buys for its own protection. The risk of loss is spread so a disproportionately large loss under a single policy doesn’t fall on one company. Reinsurance enables an insurance company to expand its capacity; stabilize its underwriting results; finance its expanding volume; secure catastrophe protection against shock losses; withdraw from a line of business or a geographical area within a specified time period.

Renewal – The automatic re-establishment of in-force status affected by the payment of another premium.

Replacement Cost – 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.

Reserve – An amount representing actual or potential liabilities kept by an insurer to cover debts to policyholders. A reserve is usually treated as a liability.

Risk Class – Risk class, in insurance underwriting, is a grouping of insureds with a similar level of risk. Typical underwriting classifications are preferred, standard and substandard, smoking and nonsmoking, male and female.

Risk Management – Management of the pure risks to which a company might be subject. It involves analyzing all exposures to the possibility of loss and determining how to handle these exposures through practices such as avoiding the risk, retaining the risk, reducing the risk, or transferring the risk, usually by insurance.

Secondary Market – The secondary market is populated by buyers willing to pay what they determine to be fair market value.

Solvency – Having sufficient assets–capital, surplus, reserves–and being able to satisfy financial requirements–investments, annual reports, examinations–to be eligible to transact insurance business and meet liabilities.

Standard Auto – Auto insurance for average drivers with relatively few accidents during lifetime.

Statutory Reserve – A reserve, either specific or general, required by law.

Stock Insurance Company – An incorporated insurer with capital contributed by stockholders, to whom earnings are distributed as dividends on their shares.

Stop Loss – Any provision in a policy designed to cut off an insurer’s losses at a given point.

Subrogation – The right of an insurer who has taken over another’s loss also to take over the other person’s right to pursue remedies against a third party.

Surplus – The amount by which assets exceed liabilities.

Tort – A private wrong, independent of contract and committed against an individual, which gives rise to a legal liability and is adjudicated in a civil court. A tort can be either intentional or unintentional, and liability insurance is mainly purchased to cover unintentional torts.

Total Loss – A loss of sufficient size that it can be said no value is left. The complete destruction of the property. The term also is used to mean a loss requiring the maximum amount a policy will pay.

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.

Underwriter – The individual trained in evaluating risks and determining rates and coverages for the Insurance Company.

Underwriting – The process of selecting risks for insurance and classifying them according to their degrees of insurability so that the appropriate rates may be assigned. The process also includes rejection of those risks that do not qualify.

Underwriting Expenses Incurred – Expenses, including net commissions, salaries and advertising costs, which are attributable to the production of net premiums written.

Underwriting Guide – Details the underwriting practices of an insurance company and provides specific guidance as to how underwriters should analyze all of the various types of applicants they might encounter. Also called an underwriting manual, underwriting guidelines, or manual of underwriting policy.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage – Endorsement to a personal automobile policy that covers an insured collision with a driver who does not have liability insurance.

Universal Life Insurance – A combination flexible premium, adjustable life insurance policy.

Usual, Customary and Reasonable Fees – An amount customarily charged for or covered for similar services and supplies which are medically necessary, recommended by a doctor or required for treatment.

Variable Life Insurance – A form of life insurance whose face value fluctuates depending upon the value of the dollar, securities or other equity products supporting the policy at the time payment is due.

Variable Universal Life Insurance – A combination of the features of variable life insurance and universal life insurance under the same contract. Benefits are variable based on the value of underlying equity investments, and premiums and benefits are adjustable at the option of the policyholder.

Whole Life Insurance – Life insurance which might be kept in force for a person’s whole life and which pays a benefit upon the person’s death, whenever that might be.

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Our Florida Public Adjusters represents Policyholders Statewide, including but not limited to the following areas:

South Florida, Central Florida, Northern Florida, Southwest Florida, West Florida, Palm Beach County, Martin County, St Lucie County, Broward County, Okeechobee County, Brevard County, Glades County, Indian River County, Lee County, Dade County, Boca Raton, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach, Wellington, Boynton Beach, Lake Worth, Hobe Sound, Stuart, Palm City, Juno Beach, North Palm Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Singer Island, Riviera Beach, Collier County, Charlotte County, Palm Bay, Melbourne, Vero Beach, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Orange County, Orlando, Port Saint Lucie, Weston, Delray Beach, Kissimmee, Fort Pierce, Greenacres
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