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Insurance Terms Q - T

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Rate
The cost of a unit of insurance, usually per $1,000. Rates are based on historical loss experience for similar risks and may be regulated by state insurance offices.
 
Rating Agencies

Six major credit agencies determine insurers’ financial strength and viability to meet claims obligations. They are A.M. Best Co.; Duff & Phelps Inc.; Fitch, Inc.; Moody’s Investors Services; Standard & Poor’s Corp.; and Weiss Ratings, Inc. Factors considered include company earnings, capital adequacy, operating leverage, liquidity, investment performance, reinsurance programs, and management ability, integrity and experience. A high financial rating is not the same as a high consumer satisfaction rating.
 
Rating Bureau
The insurance business is based on the spread of risk. The more widely risk is spread, the more accurately loss can be estimated. An insurance company can more accurately estimate the probability of loss on 100,000 homes than on ten. Years ago, insurers were required to use standardized forms and rates developed by rating agencies. Today, large insurers use their own statistical loss data to develop rates. But small insurers, or insurers focusing on special lines of business, with insufficiently broad loss data to make them actuarially reliable depend on pooled industry data collected by such organizations as the Insurance Services Office (ISO) which provides information to help develop rates such as estimates of future losses and loss adjustment expenses like legal defense costs.
 
Redlining
Literally means to draw a red line on a map around areas to receive special treatment. Refusal to issue insurance based solely on where applicants live is illegal in all states. Denial of insurance must be risk-based.
 
Reinsurance
Insurance bought by insurers. A reinsurer assumes part of the risk and part of the premium originally taken by the insurer, known as the primary company. Reinsurance effectively increases an insurer's capital and therefore its capacity to sell more coverage. The business is global and some of the largest reinsurers are based abroad. Reinsurers have their own reinsurers, called retrocessionaires. Reinsurers don’t pay policyholder claims. Instead, they reimburse insurers for claims paid.

Renters Insurance
A form of insurance that covers a policyholder’s belongings against perils such as fire, theft, windstorm, hail, explosion, vandalism, riots, and others. It also provides personal liability coverage for damage the policyholder or dependents cause to third parties. It also provides additional living expenses, known as loss-of-use coverage, if a policyholder must move while his or her dwelling is repaired. It also can include coverage for property improvements. Possessions can be covered for their replacement cost or the actual cash value that includes depreciation.
 
Replacement Cost
Insurance that pays 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.
 
Reserves
A company’s best estimate of what it will pay for claims.
 
Rider
An attachment to an insurance policy that alters the policy’s coverage or terms.
 
Risk
The chance of loss or the person or entity that is insured.
 
Risk Management
Management of the varied risks to which a business firm or association might be subject. It includes analyzing all exposures to gauge the likelihood of loss and choosing options to better manage or minimize loss. These options typically include reducing and eliminating the risk with safety measures, buying insurance, and self-insurance.
 
Salvage
Damaged property an insurer takes over to reduce its loss after paying a claim. Insurers receive salvage rights over property on which they have paid claims, such as badly-damaged cars. Insurers that paid claims on cargoes lost at sea now have the right to recover sunken treasures. Salvage charges are the costs associated with recovering that property.
 
Schedule
A list of individual items or groups of items that are covered under one policy or a listing of specific benefits, charges, credits, assets or other defined items.
 
Self-Insurance
The concept of assuming a financial risk oneself, instead of paying an insurance company to take it on. Every policyholder is a self-insurer in terms of paying a deductible and co-payments. Large firms often self-insure frequent, small losses such as damage to their fleet of vehicles or minor workplace injuries. However, to protect injured employees state laws set out requirements for the assumption of workers compensation programs. Self-insurance also refers to employers who assume all or part of the responsibility for paying the health insurance claims of their employees. Firms that self insure for health claims are exempt from state insurance laws mandating the illnesses that group health insurers must cover.
 
Severity
Size of a loss. One of the criteria used in calculating premiums rates.
 
Sewer Back-Up Coverage
An optional part of homeowners insurance that covers sewers.

Soft Market
An environment where insurance is plentiful and sold at a lower cost, also known as a buyers’ market. (See Property/Casualty Insurance Cycle)
 
Solvency
Insurance companies’ ability to pay the claims of policyholders. Regulations to promote solvency include minimum capital and surplus requirements, statutory accounting conventions, limits to insurance company investment and corporate activities, financial ratio tests, and financial data disclosure.
 
Spread Of Risk
The selling of insurance in multiple areas to multiple policyholders to minimize the danger that all policyholders will have losses at the same time. Companies are more likely to insure perils that offer a good spread of risk. Flood insurance is an example of a poor spread of risk because the people most likely to buy it are the people close to rivers and other bodies of water that flood. (See Adverse Selection)
 
Stacking
Practice that increases the money available to pay auto liability claims. In states where this practice is permitted by law, courts may allow policyholders who have several cars insured under a single policy, or multiple vehicles insured under different policies, to add up the limit of liability available for each vehicle.
 
Stock Insurance Company
An insurance company owned by its stockholders who share in profits through earnings distributions and increases in stock value.
 
Structured Settlement
Legal agreement to pay a designated person, usually someone who has been injured, a specified sum of money in periodic payments, usually for his or her lifetime, instead of in a single lump sum payment.
 
Subrogation
The legal process by which an insurance company, after paying a loss, seeks to recover the amount of the loss from another party who is legally liable for it.
 
Surety Bond
A contract guaranteeing the performance of a specific obligation. Simply put, it is a three-party agreement under which one party, the surety company, answers to a second party, the owner, creditor or “obligee,” for a third party’s debts, default or nonperformance. Contractors are often required to purchase surety bonds if they are working on public projects. The surety company becomes responsible for carrying out the work or paying for the loss up to the bond “penalty” if the contractor fails to perform.
 
Surplus
The remainder after an insurer’s liabilities are subtracted from its assets. The financial cushion that protects policyholders in case of unexpectedly high claims. (See Capital; Risk-Based Capital)
 
Surplus Lines
Property/casualty insurance coverage that isn’t available from insurers licensed in the state, called admitted companies, and must be purchased from a non-admitted carrier. Examples include risks of an unusual nature that require greater flexibility in policy terms and conditions than exist in standard forms or where the highest rates allowed by state regulators are considered inadequate by admitted companies. Laws governing surplus lines vary by state.
 
Territorial Rating
A method of classifying risks by geographic location to set a fair price for coverage. The location of the insured may have a considerable impact on the cost of losses. The chance of an accident or theft is much higher in an urban area than in a rural one, for example.
 
Third-Party Coverage
Liability coverage purchased by the policyholder as a protection against possible lawsuits filed by a third party. The insured and the insurer are the first and second parties to the insurance contract. (See First-Party Coverage)
 
Tort
A legal term denoting a wrongful act resulting in injury or damage on which a civil court action, or legal proceeding, may be based.
 
Tort Law
The body of law governing negligence, intentional interference, and other wrongful acts for which civil action can be brought, except for breach of contract, which is covered by contract law.
 
Tort Reform
Refers to legislation designed to reduce liability costs through limits on various kinds of damages and through modification of liability rules.
 
Total Loss
The condition of an automobile or other property when damage is so extensive that repair costs would exceed the value of the vehicle or property.

 

Courtesy of the Insurance Information Institute (http://www.iii.org/)

Copyright © 2014 State Auto Insurance Companies. All rights reserved.
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