Definitions of Insurance Terms

The following are terms you may hear used in connection with your insurance policy.

See your policy for an exact definition of the meaning of the term in your policy.


An unexpected, unintended event that caused bodily injury or property damage.

Act of God

An event that is caused by the forces of nature, without human intervention, and that could not be prevented by reasonable care.

Actual Cash Value (ACV)

The fair and reasonable cash price which the property could be sold in the market in the ordinary course of business and not at a forced sale.


A person who settles (adjusts) claims.


The process of determining the amount of a loss. Safety offers three different payment options. Your Safety agent can help you select the one that best meets your needs.


A person who represents an insurance company and sells insurance on a commission basis. Frequently referred to as the Producer.


The determination of the value of property, or of the extent of damage.


Rise in value or price. Increase in worth or value.

Bad Faith

Breach of faith, willful failure to respond to plain, well understood statutory or contractual obligations; not prompted by an honest mistake as to one’s rights or duties, but by some interested or sinister motive.


Memorandum of an agreement for insurance which gives temporary protection, pending investigation of the risk and issuance of a formal policy. A verbal contract of insurance, temporary in nature, but binding on both parties.

Blue Book

One of two catalogs (the other is the Red Book) used by insurance companies to assist in determining the book values of automobiles.


The right, real or alleged, of an individual or corporation to recover for a loss which may come within an insured’s policy contract.


One who claims or asserts a right, demand, or claim. The person making a claim.


Coinsurance is a clause that applies to building and personal property coverages. The coinsurance clause protects an insurance company when a property is underinsured. If a policy has a coinsurance clause, a coinsurance percentage will appear on the Declarations page of the policy. The insurance company uses this percentage in a formula to determine how much to pay for the property in the event of a loss. The insurance company will not pay the full amount of the loss if, at the time of loss, the value of the covered property times the coinsurance percentage exceeds the limit of insurance for the property.

The coinsurance clause also reduces the insured’s premium, however, in the event of a loss, the insured must rely on other insurance or absorb the remainder of the loss him or herself. Not all property insurance policies contain a coinsurance clause.

Compulsory Insurance

Any form of insurance which is required by law.


That portion of the insurance contract which outlines the duties and responsibilities of both the insured and the insurer.

Contributory Negligence

The doctrine of negligence which implies that the claimant’s conduct contributed to the injury or damage as a result of the claimant’s failure to use the degree of care necessary for his or her own protection. Under this doctrine, an individual cannot recover for his or her damages, if it is found that the claimant contributed to his or her loss by as little as one percent.


The guarantee against specific losses provided under the terms of a policy of insurance.

Coverage Selection Page

That part of the policy which shows the critical information about the insured, operator, vehicle, coverage amounts, premiums, etc. Frequently referred to as the “policy.”


A certain dollar amount specified in some insurance policies beyond which insurance protection begins. The insured assumes the loss up to the limit of the deductible amount, then the company pays over that amount.


A supplemental agreement attached to an insurance policy for the purpose of changing its conditions or altering its coverage.


Something not covered by the policy and specifically so stated in the policy contract.


A principle of insurance which states that the individual should be restored to the approximate financial position he or she was in prior to the loss.


A social device where many share the losses of a few by transferring a portion of the risk of loss to the insurance company in exchange for a certain cost.


The person purchasing the insurance policy from the insurance company.


Any legally enforceable obligation to do or refrain from doing something; a duty which eventually must be performed; an obligation to pay money.


The amounts of protection provided in each specific coverage of an insurance policy. The amount is usually expressed in dollar amounts, but also can be determined at the time of loss.


The document issued to the insured by the company. The policy states terms of the insurance contract.


An amount of money paid to an insurance company in return for insurance protection.

Red Book

One of two catalogs used in determining the book value of automobiles. The other is the “Blue Book.”


Continuation of an insurance contract beyond the original date of expiration, by endorsement, certificate, or new contract.


The property in which an insurance company secures an ownership interest as a result of paying a claim for total loss or damage based on the actual cash value of the property in its undamaged state or before the loss occurred.

SDIP (Safe Driver Insurance Plan)

A point system run by the Massachusetts Merit Rating Board which encourages safe driving by rewarding drivers who do not cause an accident, or incur a traffic violation, and by making sure that high-risk drivers pay a greater share of insurance costs.

Total Loss Property

Property that has been damaged to the extent that the cost of repairs exceeds the actual cash value of the property.