Glossary

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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.

 

ABSOLUTE ASSIGNMENT*

An irrevocable transfer of complete ownership of a life insurance policy or an annuity from one party to another. Contrast with collateral assignment. (See Assignment )

 

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.

 

ACCIDENTAL DEATH AND DISMEMBERMENT (AD&D) BENEFIT*

A supplementary life insurance policy benefit that provides for an amount of money in addition to the policy’s basic death benefit. This additional amount is payable if the insured dies as the result of an accident or if the insured loses any two limbs or the sight in both eyes as the result of an accident.

 

ACCIDENTAL DEATH BENEFIT (ADB)*

A supplementary life insurance policy benefit that provides a death benefit in addition to the policy’s basic death benefit if the insured’s death occurs as the result of an accident. (See Double indemnity benefit )

 

ACCOUNT RECEIVABLES

See Receivables

 

ACCUMULATION AT INTEREST DIVIDEND OPTION*

An option, available to the owners of participating insurance policies, that allows a policy owner to leave policy dividends on deposit with the insurer and earn interest. (See Dividend )

 

ACTUAL CASH VALUE

A form of insurance that pays damages equal to the replacement value of damaged property minus depreciation. (See Replacement cost )

 

ACTUARY

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.

 

ADDITIONAL TERM INSURANCE OPTION*

An option available to owners of participating insurance policies under which the insurer uses a policy dividend as a net single premium to purchase one-year term insurance on the insured’s life. Also known as fifth dividend option. (See Dividend, Policy dividend options )

 

ADJUSTABLE LIFE INSURANCE*

A form of life insurance that allows policy owners to vary the type of coverage provided by their policies as their insurance needs change.

 

ADJUSTER

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.

 

AGENT

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.

 

ALEATORY CONTRACT*

A contract in which one party provides something of value to another party in exchange for a conditional promise, which is a promise that the other party will perform a stated act upon the occurrence of an uncertain event. Insurance contracts are aleatory because the policyowner pays premiums to the insurer, and in return the insurer promises to pay benefits if the event insured against occurs. Contrast with commutative contract.

 

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.

 

ANNUITANT

The person who receives the income from an annuity contract. Usually the owner of the contract or his or her spouse.

 

ANNUITIZATION

The conversion of the account balance of a deferred annuity contract to income payments.

 

ANNUITY

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 CERTAIN*

A type of annuity contract that pays periodic income benefits for a stated period of time, regardless of whether the annuitant lives or dies. Also known as period certain annuity. Contrast with straight life annuity. (See Payout options )

 

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 COST*

A monetary amount that is equal to the present value of future periodic income payments under an annuity. (See Gross annuity cost, Income date, Net annuity cost )

 

ANNUITY DATE*

See Income date

 

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.

 

ANTISELECTION*

The tendency of individuals who suspect or know they are more likely than average to experience loss to apply for or renew insurance to a greater extent than people who lack such knowledge of probable loss. Also known as adverse selection and selection against the company.

 

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.

 

APPORTIONMENT

The dividing of a loss proportionately among two or more insurers that cover the same loss.

 

APPRAISAL

A survey to determine a property’s insurable value, or the amount of a loss.

 

ARBITRATION

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.

 

ARSON

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.

 

ASSETS

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 )

 

ASSIGNMENT*

An agreement under which one party—the assignor—transfers some or all of his ownership rights in a particular property, such as a life insurance policy or an annuity contract, to another party—the assignee. (See Absolute assignment, Collateral assignment )

 

ASSOCIATION GROUP*

A type of group that generally is eligible for group insurance and that consists of members of an association of individuals formed for a purpose other than to obtain insurance coverage, such as teachers’ associations and physicians’ associations.

 

AUTO INSURANCE POLICY

There are basically six different types of coverages. Some may be required by law. Others are optional. They are:

  1. Bodily injury liability, for injuries the policyholder causes to someone else.
  2. Medical payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) for treatment of injuries to the driver and passengers of the policyholder’s car.
  3. Property damage liability, for damage the policyholder causes to someone else’s property.
  4. Collision, for damage to the policyholder’s car from a collision.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.