This is a glossary of terms used that are unique to the insurance industry. To help make things more transparent, we put together this glossary of terms to help explain what some of those terms mean.
Accidental Death Benefit:
The Accidental Death Benefit rider provides for the insurance company to pay a multiple of the policy face amount (usually 2 times) to the designated beneficiary when the insured’s death is the result of an accident which was the direct cause of death.
Accidental Death and Dismemberment Benefit:
This is a rider that provides for the insurer to pay a stated benefit in case of death or the loss of limbs or sight as a result of an accident. The terms and conditions of the rider will be stated in the insurance contract.
A professional person trained in mathematics, statistics, legal-accounting methods, and principles of the operation of insurance, annuities and retirement plans. An insurance company actuary determines, on the basis of existing experience, the monetary value of risk presented by age, sex, health and lifestyle factors. As an example, an actuary can determine the extra cost of risk presented by a cigarette smoker and present the findings to the insurance company to help compute the extra premiums a smoker will pay.
For life insurance purposes, the age in years of an applicant or insured. Some companies us the age at the last birthday, while others use the age at the nearest birthday, prior or succeeding.
Age Last Birthday:
One method of insurance rating which rates people according to their age as of their last birthday, with such rating held until the next birthday. If your policy is approved at your current age (prior to your next birthday), you will be rated at your current age (as opposed to age nearest birthday).
Age Nearest Birthday:
A method used by some insurance companies to compute an insured’s age as that nearest the closest birthday. Therefore, if the insured has passed six months after the last birthday, he or she is considered to be one year older (as opposed to age last birthday).
Agent: Anyone who solicits insurance or aids in the placing of and delivering of insurance policies and/or the collection of premiums on
behalf of an insurance company.
The total premium amount due on an annual basis to meet the contractual requirements of an insurance policy and to keep it in force.
A form supplied by the life insurance company and usually filled in by the agent and medical examiner (if applicable) on the basis of information received from the applicant. The form is signed by the applicant and becomes part of the insurance contract if a policy is issued. The application is reviewed by an insurance company underwriter to consider whether the requested policy will be issued and, if so, in what classification and at what premium rate.
A term referring to an application for life insurance being approved and accepted by the insurance company. The application can either be approved as applied, which means the health class and premium approved matches the original quote; or approved other than applied, which means your health class and premium will differ from your original quote. This is usually due to information attained by the medical examiner and/or underwriter, which places the applicant in a different health class than what was applied for.
Anything of value that is owned. An insurance company will sometimes request you list your total assets and liabilities on the application to help them evaluate, in conjunction with your income, your need for the amount of death benefit applied for.
Some insurance companies allow policies to be dated earlier than the actual date issued in order to save age. By underwriting at a younger age, the premiums will typically be lower than if the policy is dated at the actual date. However, take note that premiums will be due from the date on the policy, not the actual date.
The person (or entity) to whom the proceeds of a life insurance policy are payable when the insured dies. There are various types of beneficiaries (see primary, contingent or secondary and tertiary beneficiaries).
In insurance, one who places business with more than one company and who has no exclusive contract requiring that all his or her business first be offered to a single company. Unlike the agent, who is considered to represent the company, the broker usually is considered as representing the buyer.
Cash Surrender Value:
See cash value.
In a life insurance policy, the amount available to the owner when a policy is surrendered to the company. During the early policy years, the cash value is the reserve less a surrender charge. In the later policy years, the cash surrender value usually equals or closely approximates the reserve value.
A trust designed for the benefit of a class or the public generally. It is essentially different from a private trust in that the beneficiaries are not designated individually.
A rider is an attachment to a policy that adds something to the policy (as opposed to being established in the body of the policy). A child rider allows parents to purchase life insurance for their children (all in one rider), without having to purchase a separate policy for each child.
That section of an insurance contract which states conditions under which the policy may be contested or voided. Also, see incontestability clause.
The period of time during which an insurer may contest a claim on a policy because of misleading or incomplete information furnished with the application.
In life insurance, an alternate beneficiary designated to receive payment, usually in the event that the original beneficiary has died before the insured. Also, sometimes referred to as a secondary beneficiary.
In life insurance, some term policies provide that they may be converted to permanent forms of insurance without medical examination or underwriting if conversion is made within a limited period as specified in the policy.
In life insurance; the face amount, as stated in the policy, to be paid upon proof of death of the insured.
Decreasing Term Life Insurance:
Term life insurance on which the face value slowly decreases in scheduled steps from the date the policy comes into force to the date the policy expires, while the premium remains level.
Delivery of Policy:
The presentation of an insurance policy to the insured.
In insurance, a receipt signed by the policy owner, stating that he or she has received the policy.
A rider in a life insurance policy that, in the event of an insured’s total disability, the insurer will waive payment of premiums falling due during the period of disability. Also known as waiver of premium.
Gross salary, wages, commissions, fees, etc., derived from active employment. This does not include unearned income, such as income from investments, rents, annuities, insurance policies, etc.
The date on which an insurance policy goes into effect and protection is furnished.
The total process of planning an estate, including: (a) estate creation and conservation during the owner’s life; (b) the minimization of state shrinkage at death; (c) the creation of adequate liquidity for estate settlement costs; and (d) a plan for proper estate distribution to the owner’s heirs.
A tax levied upon the right to transfer property at death, imposed upon and measured by the estate that the deceased leaves.
Evidence of Insurability:
Any statement of proof of a person’s physical condition, occupation, etc., affecting the acceptance of the application for insurance.
The medical examination of an applicant for life insurance, typically consisting of blood pressure readings, blood and urine specimens, height and weight measurement and medical questionnaire. In some cases (older ages and larger death benefit), an EKG and other tests might be required.
Medical personnel authorized by the medical director of a company to make medical examinations.
In a life insurance policy, the amount payable in the event of death, as stated on the front page of the policy. Since the amount of insurance protection provided under a given policy is usually stated on the face or first page of the contract, the term is commonly used when referring to the death benefit in the contract.
Free Look Period:
A specified period of time in which the insured can keep the policy for review and, if then decides to return the policy, a full refund is given. The free-look period varies by company, so make sure to check the free-look terms when you receive your policy.
Most life insurance policies provide that premiums may be paid at any time within a period of generally 30 or 31 days, following the premium due date, the policy remaining in full force in the meantime. If death occurs during the grace period, the premium is deducted from the proceeds payable. As a general rule, no interest is charged on over-due premiums if paid during the grace period.
In life insurance, a term denoting that a policy has been issued, premiums are current and coverage is in place.
The interest arising when one person has a reasonable expectation of benefiting from the continuance of another person’s life or of suffering a loss at his or her death. In life insurance, a person generally is considered to have an unlimited insurable interest in himself or herself. However, a person must have an insurable interest in another person at the time of application in order to insure the other’s life.
Protection, through specified monetary compensation or reimbursement for loss, provided by written contract against the happening of specified chance or unexpected events. The contractual relationship which exists when one party, for a consideration, agrees to reimburse another for loss caused by designated contingencies (e.g. death). The first party is called the insurer; the second, the insured; the contract, the insurance policy; the consideration, the premium; the property in question, the hazard or peril. The term assurance, common in England, is ordinarily considered identical to, and synonymous with insurance.
The legally binding unilateral agreement between an insurance company and a policy owner.
The total dollar amount of insurance carried by an individual.
The printed form prepared by insurers to serve as the contract between the insurers and insureds. See Insurance contract.
The individual or group covered by the contract of insurance.
The company granting the insurance.
One who dies without a will. Also, the condition of dying without a will.
A beneficiary that cannot be removed from an insurance policy without his or her formal (written) consent.
The age of an insurance application or an insured as used for insurance purposes. In some companies, the issue age is the age at last birthday. In others, it is the age at the nearest birthday.
The date upon which the life insurance application is approved and the policy is issued by the insurer. This is not necessarily the same as the date of the policy or the date the insurance becomes effective. However, life insurance policies frequently provide suicide and incontestability clauses,
measured from the issue date.
Joint Survivor Life Insurance:
A life insurance contract which covers two lives and provides for the payment of the proceeds upon the death of the second insured. Also known as survivorship life insurance or second to die life insurance, this type of policy is typically used to pay estate taxes upon the death of the second insured. It is also often used by parents of special needs children to ensure the child will be provided for after the death of both parents.
Key Person (key man or key employee) Life Insurance:
Protection of a business against the financial loss caused by the death of a vital member of the firm. A means of protecting a business from the adverse effects of the loss of individuals possessing special managerial or technical skill or experience.
Termination of a policy due to nonpayment of premiums.
A policy terminated because of nonpayment of premiums.
Level Premium Term Life Insurance Policy:
A term life insurance policy in which the premium remains unchanged throughout the life of the policy (the term).
Debts and obligations.
With respect to insurance, certification issued by the appropriate provincial insurance councils that an individual is qualified to solicit insurance applications for the period of time covered. Usually issued for a period of one or two years, renewable upon application, without the necessity of the applicant undergoing the original qualifying requirements. However, proof of completion of continuing education courses is typically required by most states at renewal time.
The average duration of the life remaining to a number of persons of a given age, according to a given mortality table.
Insurance in which the risk insured against is the death of a particular person (known as the insured), upon whose death within a stated term (for term insurance), or whenever death occurs (for permanent insurance), the insurance company agrees to pay a stated sum or income to the beneficiary.
Life Insurance Trust:
A trust for the purpose of distributing life insurance proceeds. Life insurance companies usually cannot act as trustees or guardians, nor exercise discretion in making payments to beneficiaries. In some cases, it is advisable to have the policy proceeds paid into a trust and distributed under the terms of a trust agreement, thereby permitting greater flexibility in the distribution of the proceeds.
A trust created to take effect during the lifetime of the grantor.
Payment of the entire proceeds of a life insurance policy in one sum. The method of settlement provided by most policies unless an alternate settlement is elected by the policy owner before the insured’s death or thereafter by the beneficiary before receiving the payment.
The physical examination of a proposed insured, usually conducted by a licensed physician or another medical examiner, the results of which become part of the application, thus part of the policy contract and attached thereto. In most cases, the medical exam consists of blood pressure readings, blood and urine samples, height and weight measurements and a medical questionnaire. Occasionally, an EKG and other tests may be required, based on either amount of death benefit or age of the applicant or both.
The frequency with which premiums are paid (monthly, annually, quarterly, semi-annually)
The relative incidence of death.
One of the basic factors needed to calculate basic premium rates. It utilizes mortality tables in attempting to determine the average number of deaths that will occur each year.
A listing of the mortality experience of individuals by age. A mortality table permits the actuary to calculate, on the average, how long a male or female of a given age may be expected to live.
Value of a business (or individual) calculated by subtracting its total liabilities from its total assets.
No-lapse Guarantee Rider:
A rider sometimes offered with a universal life insurance policy that guarantees that the policy will never lapse, and the death benefit and premiums will never rise, even if the cash value of the policy falls to zero, provided that premiums are paid when due. Also known as lapse protection.
A life insurance policy which does not pay policy dividends and under which the insured is not entitled to share in any divisible surplus of the company. Any profits from the excess of the premium over the cost of insurance revert to the stockholder.
Notice of Cancellation:
A written notice from the insurance company to the insured, notifying the policy owner of cancellation of the policy.
A policy that has been issued, but not accepted and paid for by the prospective policy owner and, therefore, is returned to the company
without ever having been in force.
A danger inherent in the insured’s line of work. This often results in higher
Insurance on which the policy owner has completed payments, but which has not matured. This may be either (1) reduced paid-up insurance provided under the nonforfeiture provision; (2) a limited payment policy
under which all premiums have been paid; or (3) a policy on which accumulated dividend are applied to pay the net single premium required to pay up the difference between the policy’s reduced paid-up insurance and its face amount.
A life insurance policy under which the insured receives shares of the divisible surplus of the company. Such shares are commonly called dividends. The divisible surplus represents the difference between the premiums charged and the actual costs (reflecting claims, expenses, earnings, etc.) experienced during the period for which the premiums were charged.
Permanent Life Insurance:
A term loosely applied to cash value life insurance. This type of policy is meant to last a whole life, as opposed to term, which is in force for a specified period of time or term.
The written statement of the agreement between the insurer and insured (or policy owner, if other than the insured), including all endorsements and attached papers, which constitutes the entire contract of insurance. See contract and insurance policy.
The anniversary of the date of issue of a policy, as shown in the policy
A small charge made by some companies in addition to the premium.
A loan made by the insurer to the (cash value) policy owner, with the cash value of the policy assigned as security for the loan.
The person who has ownership rights in an insurance policy and who may or may not be the insured.
The specific period chosen to pay life insurance premiums (monthly, annually, quarterly, semi-annually).
The beneficiary specifically designated by the insured as the first in priority to receive policy proceeds.
A term used to describe insurance issued to a person who is a substandard risk at a premium rate which is higher than that charged for a standard risk.
Policy owners’ rights, by the terms of most life insurance policies, to reinstate lapsed polices within a reasonable time after a lapse, provided they present satisfactory evidence of insurability. The right is usually denied if a policy has been surrendered for its cash value.
Term life insurance under which the insured has the right, at the end of the term, to elect to continue the insurance for another term (at the premium for his or her then attained age) without submitting evidence of insurability.
The act of substituting a new policy for another policy already in force. The replacement must be stated on the life insurance application.
Return of Premium (ROP) term life insurance:
A term life insurance policy in which all the premiums paid to the insurance company are returned to the policy owner at the end of the term if he or she has outlived the term.
A beneficiary whose rights in a policy are subject to the insured’s reserved right to revoke or change the beneficiary designation and the right to surrender or make a loan on the policy without the consent of the beneficiary.
An attachment which adds something to a policy. It is loosely used to refer to any supplemental agreement attached to and made a part of a policy, whether the conditions or coverage of the policy are expanded or some coverage or conditions are waived.
The act of backdating a policy to a date closer to the applicant’s last birthday in order to lower the premium. In backdating, premiums are payable as of the policy date.
Second-to-die Life Insurance:
A life insurance contract which covers two lives and provides for the payment of the proceeds upon the death of the second insured. Also known as survivorship life insurance or joint survivor life insurance, this type of policy is typically used to pay estate taxes upon the death of the second insured. It is also often used by parents of special needs children to ensure the child will be provided for after the death of both parents.
In life insurance, used to designate that official or person in the home office who, collating all the facts about the risk, accepts the risk and assigns the rate, or declines the risk – the home office underwriter.
The process of selecting risks and classifying them according to their degrees of insurability so that the appropriate rates may be assigned. The process includes rejection of risks.
Universal Life Insurance:
A type of permanent life insurance. With universal life insurance, the insurance company assumes an interest rate and the cost of insurance and projects a premium. If the insurance companies’ projections do not come through, then you may have to come up with higher premiums later, have lower than expected cash values or even lose the policy. However, with the addition of a no-lapse guarantee rider, this can be avoided.
Waiver of Premium:
A rider available with most life insurance policies which exempts the insured from the payment of premiums after he or she has been disabled
for a specified period of time.
Whole Life Insurance:
A plan of insurance offering protection for the whole of life, proceeds being payable at death. Premiums may be paid under a continuous premium arrangement or on a limited payment basis for virtually any desired period of years.
Yearly renewable Term Insurance:
Renewable term insurance under which the successive terms are for one year.