Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms (or Jargon Buster) to assist in explaining our often complex insurance terminology

Accident – the word ‘accident’ has a specific meaning when it comes to business insurance policies covering ‘accidental injury’ or ‘accidental damage’. Primarily, it means that such policies cover events that are not deliberately caused by the policyholder and that are not inevitable. Deliberately driving your car into a wall is not an insured ‘accident’. If you jump off a high building, the inevitable injuries you suffer cannot be counted as ‘accidental’, and you may not be able to make a claim on your business insurance policy.

Act of God (vis major) – Nugent v Smith (1876) “natural causes directly and exclusively without human intervention and that could not have been prevented by any amount of foresight and pains and care reasonably to have been expected”.

Actuary – an actuary is a specialist in the mathematics of risk: they apply mathematical theories of probabilities and statistical techniques to calculate risks and insurance premiums. Previously seen only in relation to life assurance, we now know we need general insurance actuaries, particularly in relation to loss reserving and premium calculations.

Addendum – a document setting out agreed alterations to an insurance contract. (See also endorsement).

Additional Premium – a further premium payable by the insured as a result of policy amendment, that may have increased the risk or changed the policy conditions or sum insured.

Adjustable Policies – do you know exactly what your payroll, turnover or average stock value on your premises will be in the next 12 months? Probably not. But what happens if your business insurance premiums are to be based on these figures? Often, the premium has to be based upon realistic estimates. Under an adjustable policy, these estimates can be adjusted appropriately, upwards or downwards, at the end of the period of insurance, when the actual figures are available.

Adjuster – one who investigates and assesses claims on behalf of insurers (claims adjuster or loss adjuster).

Adjustment – the change in premium as a result of a policy amendment. This could take the form of either an additional premium or a refund premium depending on the nature of the amendment.

Advance Profits Insurance – business interruption insurance of the expected profits of a new enterprise or an extension to an existing business.

Agents – someone who sells and services business insurance policies on behalf of commercial insurance companies. In many countries agents can only represent either one or a limited number of commercial insurance companies as opposed to brokers who are free to work with as many as they like.

Aggregate’ Limit of Indemnity – an ‘aggregate’ limit of indemnity is found on a professional indemnity policy and it means that the policy will only cover the cost of claims up to the cover limit you have selected. Each claim you have in the year effectively reduces the amount of cover you have left in your policy for any subsequent claims. So, if you have £1m of cover and a claim for £400,000, you would have £600,000 of cover left in the policy year.  The alternative to an ‘aggregate’ policy is an ‘any one claim’ policy – a more expensive option that provides more cover.

‘Aggregate/Any One Claim’ Costs Included or Costs Excluded – legal costs, including the costs of legal investigation and defence, loss adjusters, experts, court costs and claims settlement are normally covered by professional indemnity policies.  Some PI policies include the payment of these costs within the cover limit of the policy (known as the ‘limit of indemnity’), in which case there is effectively less cover for paying damages (‘costs included’).  Other policies cover these costs under a separate part of the policy, ensuring the maximum amount is available for paying damages (‘costs excluded’).

All Risks – this is a type of business insurance policy which provides a very broad level of cover. Nevertheless an all risks policy will still contain some exclusions depending on the risk, but nowhere near as many as the more common specified perils business insurance policy. All risks business insurance policies tend to be more expensive than the specified perils policies as they provide a higher quality of cover by having fewer exclusions.

Amendments – an amendment is any change made to a business insurance policy such as change of address, an increase or decrease to the level of cover, a greater or lesser number of employees or any other change in circumstances which could affect a policy.

‘Any One Claim’ Limit of Indemnity – an ‘any one claim’ limit of indemnity is found on a professional indemnity policy and it means that the cover limit you select is applied to every claim that happens during the policy year.  So, if you select £1m of cover and have three claims in the year for £900,000 each, the costs of all three totalling £2.7m would be covered.  ‘Any one claim’ policies provide a higher level of cover than ‘aggregate’ policies and so they tend to cost more.

Arbitration – the process of using an arbitrator to settle a dispute usually involving a financial settlement.

Assurance – a term interchangeable with insurance but generally used in connection with life cover as assurance implies the certainty of an event and insurance the probability.

Average – a clause in insurance policies whereby, in the event of under-insurance, the claim paid out by the insurer is restricted to the same proportion of the loss as the sum insured under the policy bears to the total value of the insured item.

Bespoke – something that is custom made, a one off.

Bona Fide Sub-Contractor – there are two types of sub-contractor. ‘Labour only sub-contractor’ and ‘bona fide sub-contractor’. The first type of sub-contractor is defined within this glossary under ‘sub-contractor (labour only)’.

Bona Fide Sub-Contractors – provide a service which includes both the cost of materials and labour. By way of example, a builder who considers himself a bona fide sub-contractor will produce an invoice which includes both labour and materials. They are expected to have their own public liability insurance however in the event their policy does not provide sufficient cover; the liability can be passed to their employer. It is therefore important that an employer declare all employees to an insurer so as to be certain that they are appropriately covered.

Broker – an insurance intermediary who represents the interests of the client, not the commercial insurance company. In certain countries, use of the word ‘broker’ is regulated, and the intermediary needs to be a member of the appropriate brokers association and meet their minimum requirements. This ensures a proper professional standard and redress for the client in the event of problem

Buildings Insurance – commercial buildings insurance covers the costs of repairing damage to your business premises caused by fire, lightning, storm, and flood, impact from aircraft or vehicles and escape of water from tanks or pipes. Your business premises should be insured for the full rebuilding cost (not for the market value).

Business Insurance – an insurance policy that provides insurance cover for you or your business. Business insurance can be purchased to cover the business in the event of a claim made by a member of the public or a member of staff. It can also be used to protect the assets of a business, including key personnel, premises, stock, equipment and even cash flow. Some forms of business insurance are mandatory, such as employer’s liability insurance, public liability insurance and commercial motor insurance. Insurance for business firms, governmental units or non-profit organisations to protect against losses through unforeseen circumstances in return for the payment of a premium.

Business Interruption Insurance – business interruption insurance is a very important but often overlooked form of business insurance cover and is also known as consequential loss or loss of profits insurance. There are several types of business interruption cover. Generally, they are all intended to maintain the income or profit from your business at its expected level despite the impact of a fire or some other unexpected catastrophe, such as explosion.

Business Machines – business equipment such as printers, fax machines, and so on. Typically these would be insured on an all risks basis – that is, all the usual perils plus accidental damage. More sophisticated equipment, such as computers, should be covered against possible breakdown.

Business Travel Insurance – also known as employee travel insurance, it provides cover specifically for those travelling abroad to work. When arranging employee travel insurance, companies and executives need to consider their own special needs. For example, the company may be faced with a second set of air fares if an executive travelling abroad falls ill and has to send a replacement to finalise an important deal.

Cancellation – insurers have the right to cancel your business insurance policy at any time. However, they have to give the required period of notice, usually between 7-28 days. And they must refund your premium on a pro-rata basis, that is the full proportion of the unexpired period of the business insurance policy. In practice, cancelling a policy mid-term is exceptional. If you cancel your business insurance policy, then insurers may charge special rates for the shorter period that you have had the policy, although they may return pro-rata if, for example, you have sold the property insured.

Certificate of Insurance – a certificate of insurance is a specific insurance document not to be confused with an insurance policy. It is issued mainly to comply with certain statutory requirements and acts as proof of cover.

Civil Liability Cover – some professional indemnity policies offer more than the standard level of cover by providing full ‘civil liability’ cover.  This covers claims for things like breach of contract, libel and slander.

Claim – a claim is a demand by a person or business that is seeking to recover for a loss and may be made against an individual or a business. You are making a claim when you ask your commercial insurance company to pay for a loss that may be covered by your business insurance policy with them.

Co-Insurance co-insurance means the sharing of one business insurance policy between two or more commercial insurance companies. Usually, this entails each insurer paying their share of any claim directly to the policyholder customer. In other words, the policyholder has an insurance contract with more than one insurer. This arrangement is cumbersome to administer and is used only for very large risks.

Commercial – connected with, engaged in, sponsored by or used in commerce or commercial enterprises.

Commercial Combined Insurance – a number of different commercial insurances put together as a single package.

Commercial Insurance – insurance for business firms, governmental units or non-profit organisations to protect against losses through unforeseen circumstances in return for the payment of a premium.

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.

Common Law – the common law consists of the ancient customs and usages of the land, which have been recognised by the courts and given the force of law. It is in itself a complex system of law, both civil and criminal, although it is greatly modified and extended by statute law and equity. It is unwritten, and has come down in the recorded judgements of judges who for hundreds of years have interpreted it.

Community Company – an insurance company whose head office is in a member state of the European Economic Community.

Concealment – deliberate suppression by a proposer for insurance of a material fact relating to the risk, usually making the contract null and void.

Consequential Loss – an alternative name for business interruption or loss of profits insurance.  Insurance of loss following direct damage e.g. Loss of profits; loss of use insurance.

Contents Insurance – contents insurance covers the contents of your business premises, including stock, office equipment and machinery.

Contract – a contract is a legally binding exchange of promises or agreement between parties that the law will enforce.

Contribution – where someone is holding two or more business insurance policies covering the same interest in the same commercial property for the same risk, and if the policies provide indemnity cover, then by law you cannot make claims against both policies and so make a profit. Instead, the commercial insurance companies concerned will share in the loss proportionately, and this is known as contribution.

Cover Note – a document issued to the insured confirming details of the insurance cover placed. Some cover notes are a legal requirement, e.g. Motor insurance.

Common Law – the law made by judges, as opposed to legislated by the government (statute).

Credit Insurance – credit insurance covers your business against the risk of bad debt due to the insolvency or payment default of your customers or buyers.

Crime Insurance – also known as fidelity insurance, this covers your business against the loss of money or stock arising from theft or dishonesty by your employees.

Date of Issue – this is the date when the insurance company actually issues the policy document, which may well be different from the start date of the cover provided by the business insurance policy.

Deductible – sometimes called an ‘excess’, it refers to the amount of your claim that you yourself must pay. Sometimes this deductible is imposed by commercial insurers because of the nature of the risk and in other cases it is voluntary. If you accept a voluntary excess on your business insurance policy you will normally receive a premium discount.

Deferred Premium – the part of a premium which, following agreement with underwriters, is payable by instalments, usually quarterly or half yearly.

Delegated Authority – delegated authority is where a commercial insurance company gives a broker the authority to assess and request a business insurance policy on their behalf.

Denial of Access – it is possible that damage to a nearby building could prevent your business from trading. This clause in business interruption policies can cover you under such circumstances, even if your own business premises are undamaged

Detriment – damage, harm or loss.

Directors and Officers Insurance/D&O Insurance – as a director or officer (that is, senior manager) of a company, you owe a duty of care to your company, and have, in certain circumstances, a personal responsibility to third parties. A D&O insurance policy is designed to protect senior company representatives against claims made against them for wrongful acts committed in their capacity as a director or officer of the company.

Disablement – if you are unable to work following an accident, a personal accident policy can offer compensation. A serious injury may mean you can never return to work. In such a case, a lump sum is paid. The compensation for a temporary absence from your job following an accident is a weekly payment for as long as two years. Some companies also offer similar cover if you are merely ill.

Disclose/Disclosure – when arranging your business insurance you must disclose all material facts that could affect the policy, i.e. Claims or endorsements. In the same vein, the commercial insurance company is required to inform you of all changes to the policy, such as terms and conditions.

Domicile – the permanent residence where you have principal establishment and to where, whenever you are absent, you intend to return. Every person is compelled to have one and only one domicile at a time.

Effective Date – the date from which the business insurance is in force. This is also known as the commencement date.

Eligible Employees – employees who meet the eligibility requirements for insurance set forth in a group policy.

Employee – an employee is a person who works under a contract (written, verbal or implied) of service or apprenticeship with an employer. Generally, a person is also defined as your employee if:

  • You deduct national insurance contributions and income tax from the salary you pay them
  • You control when, where and how they work
  • They are not authorised to employ a substitute when unable to work.
  • The director of a private limited company is still considered an employee if the company deducts income tax and NI contributions and they own less than 50% of the business. A family member who works for you may not be classified as an employee if your business is not a limited company.
  • One of the main determining factors as to whether someone is an employee or self-employed is the amount of control that an employer has over them. A person can be considered an employee when his employer has a certain level of control and direction over how he works. Someone who is self-employed may provide services for an employer, but the employer has less control over the means and methods of the work achieved.

If you are not sure about the employment status of an individual within your business, you should seek professional advice.

Employers Liability – if you employ anyone it is most likely that you will need to have employer’s liability insurance. This cover enables businesses to meet the costs of compensation and legal fees for employees who are injured or made ill at work through the fault of the employer. By law, an employer must have employers liability insurance and be insured for at least £5 million. Click through to learn more about employer’s liability insurance or to get more information on your business liabilities.

Endorsements – these are special or unusual provisions that have the effect of varying a standard commercial insurance policy wording, or they may be alterations made to the cover offered by the policyholder or insurer, after the policy has begun. Documentary evidence of a change in the wording of or cover offered by an existing policy or qualification of wording if the policy is written on restricted terms. (See also addendum).

Establishment – an organization founded and united for a specific purpose.

Exceptions/Exclusions – sometimes known as exclusions, these are designed to limit the insurer’s risk and can be found in the small print of policies. Notable examples would be the exclusion of war risks and nuclear damage, property covered by other insurances, etc.

Excess – the amount of your claim you have to pay before your insurance cover kicks in. (See deductible.)

Exclusion – a provision in a policy that excludes the insurer’s liability in certain circumstances or for specified types of loss.

Ex Gratia Payment – a payment made by an insurer to a policyholder, done from a sense of moral obligation rather than because of any legal liability/requirement.

Expiration Date – the date on which the policy ends.

Fidelity Insurance – also known as crime insurance, this covers your business against the loss of money or stock arising from theft or dishonesty by your employees.

Financial Conduct Authority – the FCA is the regulatory body of financial and insurance sectors within the UK, giving both authority to trade and retaining the ability to retract authority.

Financial Ombudsman Service – a bureau established by major insurance companies to oversee the interests of policyholders whose complaints remain unsolved through normal company channels of communication. The service is available to all those holding personal cover with the insurers who have joined the scheme. The decision of the ombudsman is binding on the insurer, although the insured may appeal to the court if he so wishes. (Also see ombudsman)

First Loss Insurance – insurance where the sum insured is accepted to be less than the value of the property but the insurer undertakes to pay claims up to the sum insured, without application of average.

Force Majeure – a force beyond the control of an individual.

Fortuitous – occurring by chance or by accident.

Fraud – dishonest act by policyholders to obtain payment of an insurance claim that would otherwise not be covered by insurance.

General Principles – insurance practices have developed over several hundred years. Certain principles have been established and upheld by the courts or codified by acts of parliament. These principles, including the concept of contribution, indemnity, proximate cause, and utmost good faith, are now the foundation stones of today’s insurance practices.

Goods in Transit Insurance – goods in transit insurance covers goods against loss or damage while in your vehicle or when sent by carrier.

Gross Premium – a term normally applied to gross written premiums before deduction of brokerage and discounts

Hazard – when assessing a particular insurance risk, insurance underwriters look at two types of hazard, the physical and the moral. Physical hazard refers to the tangible aspects of the risk that could make a loss more or less likely, or increase or decrease the severity of that loss. A moral hazard, as the terms itself suggests, is concerned with the attitude and conduct of the policyholder himself, as well as that of his employees.

Hired Premises – if you hire premises for meetings, social gatherings and the like, you may have a responsibility to both the owners and the users. Your responsibility to the owners may arise out of your contract with them, so check the wording carefully and make sure that your public liability policy is extended to include the risk of damage to property that may be under your custody or control. If you also accept responsibility for the safety to the premises hired, then this may well involve substantial liability to people using the premises.

Implied Conditions – conditions not actually written down in the policy but that have evolved through practice or legislation over the past few hundred years to form the basic principles of insurance. For instance, the property insured must actually exist, and the insured must have an insurable interest in it.

Inception Date – the date from which, under the terms of a policy, an insurer is deemed to be at risk.

Increase in Cost of Working – under a business interruption policy some cover is provided for additional expenditure incurred by the insured solely for the purpose of reducing the shortage in production following an insured event.

Incurred Losses – losses which have occurred within a specified time frame whether paid or still outstanding.

Indemnity – one of the five general principles of insurance. A policyholder should not profit by a claim, but should be put in the same financial position as he was immediately before it happened. Personal accident policies can be an exception to the rule, as they have fixed sums per policy, as can policies that give ‘new for old’ replacement cover, which could put the policyholder in a better position.

Indemnity Period – under a business interruption insurance the period during which cover is proved for disruption to the business following the occurrence of an insured peril.

Inevitable – certain to happen, unavoidable.

Insolvency – this is where your liabilities exceed your assets (more money going out than coming in).

Insurable Interest – insurable interest is a fundamental principle of insurance. It means that the person wishing to take out insurance must be legally entitled to insure the article, or the event, or the life. In other words, the happening of the event insured against, or the death of the life insured must cause the policyholder financial loss.

Insurable Value – the value of the insurable interest which the insured has in the insured occurrence or event. It is the amount to be paid out by the insurer (assuming full insurance) in the event of total loss or destruction of the item insured.

Insurance – risk management plan that, for a price, offers the policyholder an opportunity to share the costs of possible financial loss through an insurer.

Insurance Broker/Intermediary – an insurance intermediary who advises their clients and arranges the insurances. Although they act as the agent of his client, they are normally remunerated by a commission (brokerage) from the insurer. An insurance broker is a full-time specialist with professional skills in handling insurance business. Since January 2005 intermediaries and brokers must be registered with, and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Insurance Premium Tax – a tax on insurance premiums, levied by the UK government, generally set at 9.5% of the overall premium. Sometimes referred to as IPT, this tax is not recoverable. Certain policies are exempt and certain consumer policies sold via retailers (e.g. Non-business travel & extended warranty). The finance act 1994 introduced this new tax on most general insurance risks located in the UK.

Insured – the insured is also referred to as the policyholder – the person(s) protected in case of a loss or claim.

Insurer – the insurance company providing cover. An insurance company or Lloyd’s underwriter who, in return for a consideration (a premium). Agrees to make good in a manner laid down in the policy any loss or damage suffered by the person paying the premium as a result of some accident or occurrence.

Intermediaries – the ‘middlemen’ of insurance who arrange a contract between the policyholder and the commercial insurance company. The main types are brokers and agents.

Judicial Precedent – ruling of a court of law, established for the first time for a particular type of case and then used normally as an authority for future.

Key Man Insurance – key man insurance is designed to protect your business against the loss of income resulting from the disability or death of an employee in a significant position.

Lapse – a business insurance policy lapses when cover is terminated because of non-payment of the premium within a specified period of time. The non-renewal of a policy for any reason.

Latent Disease – an illness which lies dormant for some years before manifesting itself.

Liability – an obligation that legally binds an individual or a company. When one is liable for a debt, you are responsible for paying that debt.

For example, if John hits Jane’s car, John is liable for the damages to Jane’s vehicle because John is responsible for the damages. In the case of a company, a liability is recorded on the balance sheet and can include accounts payable, taxes, wages, accrued expenses, and deferred revenues. Current liabilities are debts payable within one year, while long-term liabilities are debts payable over a longer period.

Limit – maximum amount a policy will pay either overall or for a particular item of cover. The insurer’s maximum liability under an insurance, which may be expressed ‘per accident’, ‘per event’, ‘per occurrence’, ‘per annum’, etc.

Limit of Indemnity – the maximum sum that the insurer will pay for any event, occurrence or accident, or in aggregate in any one year.

Limits of Liability – liability policies normally contain a limit of liability stating the maximum amount insurers will pay for a particular event. This limit usually applies to the total of all claims arising out of a single event. Some policies will also have a limit set for each policy period. The only exception to this is third party motor insurance which is an unlimited policy.

Lloyd’s – Lloyds of London is probably the world’s most famous insurance market, and certainly the top marine insurance and shipping intelligence centre. It all started in a London coffee-house in the seventeenth century. For more details, visit the Lloyd’s of London website.

Lloyd’s Broker – a broker approved by the council of Lloyd’s and thereby entitled to enter the underwriting room at Lloyd’s and place business direct with underwriters. Lloyd’s brokers must meet the council of Lloyd’s stringent requirements as to integrity and financial stability. They have to file annually with the council of Lloyd’s a special accountant’s report concerning their financial position.

LLP Member – any group of two or more people who want to set up a profit-making business together can form a limited liability partnership (LLP), unless one of them has previously been disqualified as a company director or LLP member. It is also possible for companies to be members of an LLP.

Loss – another term for a claim.

Loss Adjuster – independent qualified loss adjusters are used by insurers for their experience and expertise necessary to carry out detailed and in some instances prolonged investigations of complex and large losses. Although the adjuster’s fees are invariably paid by the insurers he is an impartial professional person and makes his judgement on the amount to be paid in settlement solely on the basis of established market practice. It is his task to negotiate a settlement which is within the terms of the policy and equitable to both insured and insurer. Should he himself not be an expert in a particular discipline which is necessary or desirable to pursue his negotiations, he will consult or employ such an expert.

Loss Assessor – in motor insurance, an engineer. In other classes a person who, in return for a fee (usually a percentage of the amount claimed), acts for the claimant in negotiating the claim.

Loss of Profits – also known as business interruption or consequential loss insurance.

Material Damage Warranty – a warranty in a business interruption insurance policy stipulating that for the interruption insurance to become effective there must be a policy in force in respect of the material damage and a claim paid or admitted thereunder for such damage caused by an insured peril.

Material Fact – anyone seeking insurance must disclose all the material facts about the risk involved that he or she knows, or that they ought to know. In other words, the policyholder should not hide anything. The trouble is, certain facts which the underwriter may deem ‘material’ may not always be known to the policyholder. The best principle to follow is: ‘if in doubt, mention it ‘. If you are not sure whether a piece of information may or may not be relevant, tell your commercial insurance company anyway.

Maximum Indemnity Period – estimating the length of time during which you may still be paying for losses resulting from some interruption of business is tricky. But you have to make such an estimate when you take out consequential loss (loss of profits) cover against business interruption losses. You should play safe and pick the longest possible time you think may be necessary to rehabilitate your business following damage caused by some catastrophe you have insured against. This period of time is called the maximum indemnity period.

Misappropriation – to take (something, such as money) dishonestly for your own use.

Misleading – any item of information or advice that can be considered as misleading.

Money Insurance – ‘money’ is usually defined for business insurance purposes as cash, bank and currency notes, cheques, money orders, postal orders and current postage stamps. You can cover against their loss while they are on your premises and while they are in transit to and from the bank.

Motor Insurance – commercial motor insurance (also known as van insurance or commercial vehicle insurance) is insurance purchased for cars, vans, lorries, and other commercial vehicles. Its primary use is to provide protection against losses incurred as a result of traffic accidents and against liability that could be incurred in an accident

Moral Hazard – the insurance underwriter needs to assess not only the physical hazard involved in any risk, such as the construction of a building and what it is to be used for, but also the ‘moral hazard’. Moral hazard refers to the character and circumstances of the person to be insured, or of his employees. It covers such things as dishonesty and carelessness, as well as any previous difficulties over claims settlements.

Negligence – this is the most common form of breach of duty towards third parties under common law (also known as tort). It is the failure to do something which a reasonable person would have done under the same circumstances, or alternatively an action which a reasonable person would not have done.  Perhaps the most common form of tort.  In Blyth v Birmingham Waterworks Co. (1856) it was defined as ‘the omission to do something which a reasonable man guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs would do, or doing something which a prudent and reasonable man would not do’. Gives rise to civil liability.

Net Premiums – term variously used to mean gross premiums net of reinsurance premiums payable, or commission, brokerage, taxes, or any combination of these.

New for Old – where insurers agree to pay the cost of property lost or destroyed without deduction for depreciation.

No Claims Bonus (or discount) – a rebate of premium given to an insured person by an insurer where no claims have been made by that insured. Very common in motor insurance.

Non-Disclosure – the failure by the insured or his broker to disclose a material fact or circumstance to the underwriter before acceptance of the risk.

Notice of Cancellation – under the terms of most policies, either the policyholder or the insurer may cancel the policy before the expiry date by giving the other party the requisite notice according to the terms of policy, and refunding a pro rata premium.

Notification – all policies have conditions on notification of claims to insurers. Some say notice should be given ‘as soon as possible’ or ‘forthwith’ while others specify a period within which the incident must be reported. There is obviously no point in delaying. Even if you do not have full particulars of the claim, report the matter and ask advice from your insurer’s claims department as to the next step to take.

Occurrence – in insurance terms an occurrence is ‘the happening of an event that has given rise to a claim during the period of insurance’. In liability insurance, this is particularly important, as policies may sometimes be issued on a ‘claims made’ basis during the period of insurance, irrespective of when the injury was caused or when the negligent act in question took place.

Ombudsman – a reference to the financial ombudsman service. The Financial Ombudsman Service offers a free independent service and they can help with most insurance-related complaints. However, there are some limitations on what the Financial Ombudsman Service can look into.

Onerous – involving a great deal of effort, trouble, or difficulty. It’s a burden.

Onus of Proof – ‘onus’ is simply the Latin word for ‘burden’. It is a concept relevant to liability insurance, where the onus, or burden, of proving negligence usually rests with the plaintiff. There are certain circumstances, however, in which a prima facie (a Latin term which means ‘at first sight’ or ‘on first impression’) liability rests on one of the parties. Once it has been proven that an accident has occurred, for example, the onus is transferred to the defendant, to disprove his or her own negligence. See ‘res ipse loquitor’.

Ostensible – stated or appearing to be true, but not necessarily so.

Passenger Liability – the liability of a carrier to passengers.

Perceived – interpret or look on (someone or something) dishonesty for your own use.

Peril – a contingency, of fortuitous happening, which may be covered or excluded by a policy of insurance.

Perils – risks that you or your business might face, such as explosions, riots and strikes, malicious damage, impact by road vehicles, burst pipes or acts of nature such as storms, floods and earthquakes.

Period of Risk – the period during which the insurer can incur liability under the terms of the policy.

Permanent Health Insurance – term used to describe contracts of insurance providing continuing benefits in the event of prolonged illness of disability.

Personal Accident and Sickness Insurance – insurance for fixed benefits in the event of death or loss of limbs or sight by accident and/or disablement by accident or sickness. Accident and sickness may be insured together or separately.

Policy – the written contract of insurance. A document detailing the terms and conditions applicable to an insurance contract and constituting legal evidence of the agreement to insure. It is issued by an insurer or his representative for the first period of risk. On renewal a new policy may well not be issued although the same conditions would apply, and the current wording would be evidence by the renewal receipt.

Policy Holder – the person in whose name the policy is issued. (See also insured and assured).

Policy Term – the period of time for which an insurance policy provides cover for you or your business.

Premium – the amount of money charged for the cover provided by an insurance policy.

Pre – Existing Medical Conditions – you should tell your broker or insurer about any illness you are currently suffering from, or have already had, even in the past.  These are known as pre-existing medical conditions. For private medical insurance, you will not normally be covered for these conditions, but for travel insurance, the insurer may be able to offer cover, sometimes for a higher premium.

Principal – a principal is a person with an ownership (equity) position in the business, or a person who is the owner of a business and as such the person who delegates and controls the execution of the investment projects.

Product Liability – the chances are that if you make, repair or sell products, you will need product liability insurance to cover your business against claims for damage or injury arising from defects in product design or manufacture.

Products Liability Insurance – these policies cover the insured’s legal liability for bodily injury to persons, or loss of or damage to property caused by defects in goods (including containers) sold, supplied, erected, installed, repaired, treated, manufactured, and/or tested by the insured.

Professional Indemnity Insurance – professional indemnity insurance protects professionals, such as accountants, solicitors, architects, doctors, and so on, against their legal liability to compensate third parties who have sustained some injury, loss or damage due to their professional negligence.

Proposal Form – a form sent by an insurer to a person requiring insurance so as to obtain sufficient information to allow the insurer to decide whether or not to accept a risk and what conditions to apply if it is accepted.

Pro Rata – in proportion, proportional ratio.

Pro Rata Cancellation – if a policy is cancelled before its full term is complete, the policyholder will receive a full proportional refund of the premium for the unexpired term. Commercial insurance companies are usually entitled to charge a higher ‘short period’ rate depending on the circumstances of cancellation. This could affect the amount of the proportional premium refund.

Proximate Cause – insurance law requires the policyholder to show proof that the loss was caused by a peril covered by the policy. For instance, imagine a fire destroyed property in a yard and weakened a surrounding wall. On the next night, a gale blew down the weakened wall. What, then, was the ‘proximate cause’, or the nearest real reason, for the wall’s collapse – the fire or the wind? Here, the proximate cause would be deemed to be the wind, while the fire was only the remote cause.

Propriety – conformity to established standards of proper behaviour or manners.

Public Liability – you can use a public liability policy to insure your business against legal liability for bodily injury to third parties or loss of, or damage to, the third party’s property.

Prudent – sensible, wise, cautious.

Quantifying – to calculate the quantity or amount (of something).

Quantum – a required or allowed amount, especially an amount of money legally payable in damages.

Quote – an estimate of the cost of insurance, based on information supplied by the applicant.

Ratification – confirmation of adoption of an act that has already been performed.

Reinstatement – making good. Where insured property is damaged, it is usual for settlement to be effected through the payment of a sum of money, but a policy may give either the insured or insurer the option to restore or rebuild instead.

Reinsurance – under this system, one insurer accepts insurance from another insurer. There are various types of reinsurance, as there are specialist reinsurance companies and brokers.

Remuneration – payment or compensation received for services or employment.

Renewal – when you renew your business insurance policy you are choosing to continue your cover beyond the original term of the policy (normally 12 months). The process of continuing an insurance policy from one period of risk to a succeeding one.

Renewal Notice – this is a form sent to the policyholder advising him or her that the business insurance policy renewal date is approaching and inviting renewal on payment of the premium. The invitation to renew the policy is extended on the basis of information that the policyholder has already given to the insurer.

Res Ipse Loquitor – this Latin phrase means ‘the thing speaks for itself. It refers to a legal liability situation. What it means is that in cases where the cause of an accident lies solely within the control of the defendant, the plaintiff does not have to prove negligence – in other words, the facts of the case speak for themselves.

Retroactive Cover – retroactive cover is available with some professional indemnity insurance policies.   If you have this cover as part of your PI policy it will cover you for any claims in the future which may relate back to work you did prior to the time you bought your policy.

Risk – the peril insured against or an individual exposure.

Risk Exposure – the possibility of financial loss based on the probability of an event occurring.

Risk Management – the identification, measurement and economic control of risks that threaten the assets and earnings of a business or other enterprise.

Salvage – a recovery of all or part of the value of an insured item on which a claim has been paid. The insurer will normally dispose of the item and apply the proceeds to reduce the cost of the claim.

Schedule – the part of a policy containing information peculiar to that particular risk. The greater part of a policy is likely to be identical for all risks within a class of business covered by the same insurer.

Self-Insurance – some large industrial concerns prefer to set aside their own funds to cover any future losses rather than insure with a commercial insurance company. It is a step which should never be taken without the benefit of professional advice first. Whilst day-to-day losses might not prove too much of a financial burden to a really large company, a truly catastrophic event, such as an earthquake, could put it out of business for lack of insurance.

Solvency – the amount by how much your assets exceed your liabilities (more money coming in than going out).

Statement of Fact – an alternative to a completed proposal form. A statement provided by the insurer clarifying the basis on which insurance is accepted and what conditions apply.

Statute Law – presently the most important source of law is statute law, otherwise known as Acts of Parliament; which may create entirely new law, over-rule, modify, or extend existing principles of common law and equity, and repeal or modify existing statute law.

Stipulation – a condition or requirement that is specified or demanded as part of an agreement.

Repudiate – to reject the validity e.g. I repudiate your claim.

Sub-Contractor (labour only) – there are two types of sub-contractor. ‘Labour only sub-contractor’ and ‘bona fide sub-contractor’. The latter type of sub-contractor is defined within this glossary under ‘bona fide sub-contractor’.

A ‘labour only sub-contractor’ provides, as their name suggests, only labour and are paid a fixed hourly or weekly rate. They are considered employees of the contractor and as such, any injury they incur or cause during the course of their employment will be the responsibility of their employer. Liability will also be passed onto the employer should any damage to property be caused. It is vital that each employer therefore correctly advises their insurer of all the people who are under their employment so as to ensure they purchase the correct policy.

Subject to Survey – phrase used by an insurer to signify provisional acceptance of an insurance pending inspection by a surveyor whose report is necessary to determine the rate and conditions applicable.

Subrogation – this is a legal term which refers to the right that a person or company has to benefit from another person or company’s rights and remedies. So if a commercial insurance company pays a claim caused by a third party, then the insurer will seek to recover the amount paid on behalf of the policyholder.

Sum Insured – the maximum amount that will be paid out under the terms of the business insurance policy.

Terms and Conditions – terms and conditions of trade relevant to the business, i.e. Terms of using a website, conditions of sale.

Third Parties – the third party is the other person or company involved in the insurance process: the first party is the policyholder, the second party is the commercial insurance company, and the third party would be the person or company making a claim against the policyholder or being claimed against.

Third Party Liability – liability of the insured to persons who are not parties to the contract of insurance and are not employees of the insured.

Turnover – the money earned for goods supplied or services rendered. Insurers need to have this statistic when managing earnings-related insurance such as business interruption or products liability, where it is a rating factor.

Underlying Insurance – the primary insurance as distinct from excess insurance.

Underwriter/Underwriting – someone who works for a commercial insurance company who decides whether or not to accept a proposal for insurance and, if so, on what terms and conditions.

Uninsurable Risks – there are many different types of insurance cover available, but some things are just uninsurable. For example, if you are a drug-smuggler, you cannot expect any commercial insurance company to give you cover against the possibility of arrest and detention.

Utmost Good Faith – insurance contracts are contracts of utmost good faith (uberrima fides), which means that both parties to the contract have a duty to disclose, clearly and accurately, all material facts relating to the proposed insurance. Any breach of this duty by the proposer may entitle the insurer to repudiate liability.

Validity Period – the period in which a quote is valid, i.e. 30 days.

Void ab Initio – to be treated as invalid from the beginning.

Warranty – a very strict condition in a policy imposed by an insurer. A breach entitles the insurer to deny liability.

Wear and Tear – this is the amount deducted from claims payments to allow for any depreciation in the property insured which is caused by its usage.

Without Prejudice – term used in discussion and correspondence. Where there is a dispute or negotiations for a settlement and terms are offered ‘without prejudice’ an offer so made or a letter so marked and subsequent correspondence cannot be admitted in evidence without the consent of both parties concerned. Term also used by an underwriter when paying a claim which he feels may not attach to the policy. This payment must not be treated as a precedent for future similar claims.

Wrongful Conversion – this is to protect you against loss following the purchase of a vehicle from someone who is not the true owner.