Glossary

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C-SHARE VARIABLE ANNUITIES

A form of variable annuity contract where the contract holder pays no sales fee up front or surrender charges. Owners can claim full liquidity at any time.

 

CAPACITY

 

CAPITAL

Shareholder’s equity (for publicly traded insurance companies) and retained earnings (for mutual insurance companies). There is no general measure of capital adequacy for property/casualty insurers. Capital adequacy is linked to the riskiness of an insurer’s business. A company underwriting medical device manufacturers needs a larger cushion of capital than a company writing Main Street business, for example. (See Risk-based capital, Solvency, Surplus )

 

CAPITAL MARKETS

The markets in which equities and debt are traded. (See Securitization of insurance risk )

 

CAPTIVE AGENT

A person who represents only one insurance company and is restricted by agreement from submitting business to any other company, unless it is first rejected by the agent’s captive company. (See Exclusive agent )

 

CAPTIVES

Insurers that are created and wholly owned by one or more non-insurers, to provide owners with coverage. A form of self-insurance.

 

CAR YEAR

Equal to 365 days of insured coverage for a single vehicle. It is the standard measurement for automobile insurance.

 

CASE MANAGEMENT

A system of coordinating medical services to treat a patient, improve care and reduce cost. A case manager coordinates health care delivery for patients.

 

CASH DIVIDEND OPTION*

For participating insurance policies, a dividend option under which the insurer sends the policy owner a check in the amount of the policy dividend. (See Dividend, Policy dividend options )

 

CASH PAYMENT OPTION*

One of several nonforfeiture options included in life insurance policies and some annuity contracts that allows a policy owner to receive the cash surrender value of a life insurance policy or an annuity contract in a single payment. Also known as cash surrender option. (See Cash surrender value, Nonforfeiture options )

 

CASH SURRENDER VALUE*

  1. For life insurance, the amount, before adjustments for factors such as policy loans, that the owner of a permanent life insurance policy is entitled to receive if the policy does not remain in force until the insured’s death.
  2. For annuities, the amount of a deferred annuity’s accumulated value, less any surrender charges, that the contract holder is entitled to receive if the policy is surrendered during its accumulation period. Also known as cash value and surrender value.
 

CASH VALUE*

See Cash surrender value

 

CATASTROPHE

Term used for statistical recording purposes to refer to a single incident or a series of closely related incidents causing severe insured property losses totaling more than a given amount, currently $25 million

 

CATASTROPHE BONDS

Risk-based securities that pay high interest rates and provide insurance companies with a form of reinsurance to pay losses from a catastrophe such as those caused by a major hurricane. They allow insurance risk to be sold to institutional investors in the form of bonds, thus spreading the risk. (See Securitization of insurance risk) )

 

CATASTROPHE DEDUCTIBLE

A percentage or dollar amount that a homeowner must pay before the insurance policy kicks in when a major natural disaster occurs. These large deductibles limit an insurer’s potential losses in such cases, allowing it to insure more property. A property insurer may not be able to buy reinsurance to protect its own bottom line unless it keeps its potential maximum losses under a certain level.

 

CATASTROPHE FACTOR

Probability of catastrophic loss, based on the total number of catastrophes in a state over a 40-year period.

 

CATASTROPHE MODEL

Using computers, a method to mesh long-term disaster information with current demographic, building and other data to determine the potential cost of natural disasters and other catastrophic losses for a given geographic area.

 

CATASTROPHE REINSURANCE

Reinsurance for catastrophic losses. The insurance industry is able to absorb the multibillion dollar losses caused by natural and man-made disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and terrorist attacks because losses are spread among thousands of companies including catastrophe reinsurers who operate on a global basis. Insurers’ ability and willingness to sell insurance fluctuates with the availability and cost of catastrophe reinsurance. After major disasters, such as Hurricane Andrew and the World Trade Center terrorist attack, the availability of catastrophe reinsurance becomes extremely limited. Claims deplete reinsurers’ capital and, as a result, companies are more selective in the type and amount of risks they assume. In addition, with available supply limited, prices for reinsurance rise. This contributes to an overall increase in prices for property insurance.

 

CELL PHONE INSURANCE

Separate insurance provided to cover cell phones for damage or theft. Policies are often sold with the cell phones themselves.

 

CHARTERED FINANCIAL CONSULTANT / ChFC

A professional designation given by The American College to financial services professionals who complete courses in financial planning.

 

CHARTERED LIFE UNDERWRITER / CLU

A professional designation by The American College for those who pass business examinations on insurance, investments and taxation, and have life insurance planning experience.

 

CHARTERED PROPERTY/CASUALTY UNDERWRITER / CPCU

A professional designation given by the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters. National examinations and three years of work experience are required.

 

CLAIMS MADE POLICY

A form of insurance that pays claims presented to the insurer during the term of the policy or within a specific term after its expiration. It limits liability insurers’ exposure to unknown future liabilities. (See Occurrence policy )

 

COBRA

Short for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. A federal law under which group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees must offer continuation of coverage to employees who leave their jobs and their dependents. The employee must pay the entire premium. Coverage can be extended up to 18 months. Surviving dependents can receive longer coverage.

 

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

 

COLLATERAL

Property that is offered to secure a loan or other credit and that becomes subject to seizure on default. Also called security.

 

COLLATERAL ASSIGNMENT*

A temporary transfer of some of the ownership rights in a particular property, such as a life insurance policy or an annuity contract, as collateral for a loan. The transfer is made on the condition that upon payment of the debt for which the contract is collateral, all transferred rights shall revert back to the original owner. Contrast with absolute assignment.

 

COLLATERAL SOURCE RULE

Bars the introduction of information that indicates a person has been compensated or reimbursed by a source other than the defendant in civil actions related to negligence or other liability.

 

COLLISION COVERAGE

Portion of an auto insurance policy that covers the damage to the policyholder’s car from a collision.

 

COMBINED RATIO

Percentage of each premium dollar a property/casualty insurer spends on claims and expenses. A decrease in the combined ratio means financial results are improving; an increase means they are deteriorating.

 

COMMERCIAL GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE / CGL

A broad commercial policy that covers all liability exposures of a business that are not specifically excluded. Coverage includes product liability, completed operations, premises and operations, and independent contractors.

 

COMMERCIAL LINES

Products designed for and bought by businesses. Among the major coverages are boiler and machinery, business income, commercial auto, comprehensive general liability, directors and officers liability, fire and allied lines, inland marine, medical malpractice liability, product liability, professional liability, surety and fidelity, and workers compensation. Most of these commercial coverages can be purchased separately except business income, which must be added to a fire insurance (property) policy. (See Commercial multiple peril policy )

 

COMMERCIAL MULTIPLE PERIL POLICY

Package policy that includes property, boiler and machinery, crime and general liability coverages.

 

COMMERCIAL PAPER

Short-term, unsecured, and usually discounted promissory note issued by commercial firms and financial companies often to finance current business. Commercial paper, which is rated by debt rating agencies, is sold through dealers or directly placed with an investor.

 

COMMISSION

Fee paid to an agent or insurance salesperson as a percentage of the policy premium. The percentage varies widely depending on coverage, the insurer, and the marketing methods.

 

COMMUNITY RATING LAWS

Enacted in several states on health insurance policies. Insurers are required to accept all applicants for coverage and charge all applicants the same premium for the same coverage regardless of age or health. Premiums are based on the rate determined by the geographic region’s health and demographic profile.

 

COMMUTATIVE CONTRACT*

An agreement under which the contracting parties specify the values that they will exchange; moreover, the parties generally exchange items or services that they think are of relatively equal value. Contrast with aleatory contract.

 

COMPETITIVE REPLACEMENT PARTS

See Crash parts; Generic auto parts

 

COMPETITIVE STATE FUND

A facility established by a state to sell workers compensation in competition with private insurers.

 

COMPLAINT RATIO

A measure used by some state insurance departments to track consumer complaints against insurance companies. Generally, it is stated as the number of complaints upheld against an insurance company, as a percentage of premiums written. In some states, complaints from medical providers over the promptness of payments may also be included.

 

COMPLETED OPERATIONS COVERAGE

Pays for bodily injury or property damage caused by a completed project or job. Protects a business that sells a service against liability claims.

 

COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE

Portion of an auto insurance policy that covers damage to the policyholder’s car not involving a collision with another car (including damage from fire, explosions, earthquakes, floods and riots), and theft.

 

COMPULSORY AUTO INSURANCE

The minimum amount of auto liability insurance that meets a state law. Financial responsibility laws in every state require all automobile drivers to show proof, after an accident, of their ability to pay damages up to the state minimum. In compulsory liability states this proof, which is usually in the form of an insurance policy, is required before you can legally drive a car.

 

CONTESTABLE PERIOD*

The time during which an insurer has the right to cancel or rescind an insurance policy if the application contained a material misrepresentation. (See Incontestability provision) )

 

CONTINGENT BENEFICIARY*

The party designated to receive the proceeds of a life insurance policy following the insured’s death if the primary beneficiary predeceased the insured. Also known as secondary beneficiary and successor beneficiary. (See Primary beneficiary )

 

CONTINGENT LIABILITY

Liability of individuals, corporations, or partnerships for accidents caused by people other than employees for whose acts or omissions the corporations or partnerships are responsible.

 

CONVERTIBLE TERM INSURANCE POLICY*

A term life insurance policy that gives the policy owner the right to convert the policy to a permanent plan of insurance.

 

COVERAGE

Synonym for insurance.

 

CRASH PARTS

Sheet metal parts that are most often damaged in a car crash. (See Generic auto parts )

 

CREDIT

The promise to pay in the future in order to buy or borrow in the present. The right to defer payment of debt.

 

CREDIT DERIVATIVES

A contract that enables a user, such as a bank, to better manage its credit risk. A way of transferring credit risk to another party.

 

CREDIT ENHANCEMENT

A technique to lower the interest payments on a bond by raising the issue’s credit rating, often through insurance in the form of a financial guarantee or with standby letters of credit issued by a bank.

 

CREDIT INSURANCE

Commercial coverage against losses resulting from the failure of business debtors to pay their obligation to the insured, usually due to insolvency. The coverage is geared to manufacturers, wholesalers and service providers who may be dependent on a few accounts and therefore could lose significant income in the event of an insolvency.

 

CREDIT LIFE INSURANCE

Life insurance coverage on a borrower designed to repay the balance of a loan in the event the borrower dies before the loan is repaid. It may also include disablement and can be offered as an option in connection with credit cards and auto loans.

 

CREDIT RATING

See Bond rating

 

CREDIT SCORE

The number produced by an analysis of an individual’s credit history. The use of credit information affects all consumers in many ways, including getting a job, finding a place to live, securing a loan, getting telephone service and buying insurance. Credit history is routinely reviewed by insurers before issuing a commercial policy because businesses in poor financial condition tend to cut back on safety, which can lead to more accidents and more claims. Auto and home insurers may use information in a credit history to produce an insurance score. Insurance scores may be used in underwriting and rating insurance policies. (See Insurance score )

 

CRIME INSURANCE

Term referring to property coverages for the perils of burglary, theft and robbery.

 

CRITICAL ILLNESS (CI) INSURANCE*

A type of individual health insurance that pays a lump-sum benefit when the insured is diagnosed with a specified illness. Also known as critical diagnosis insurance. Contrast with specified disease coverage.

 

CROP-HAIL INSURANCE

Protection against damage to growing crops from hail, fire or lightning provided by the private market. By contrast, multiple peril crop insurance covers a wider range of yield reducing conditions, such as drought and insect infestation, and is subsidized by the federal government.

 

CURRENT ASSUMPTION WHOLE LIFE INSURANCE*

See Interest-sensitive insurance