Insurance Glossary: S – Z

Brief definitions and meanings of words often used within the insurance industry.

The words and terms within this insurance glossary are provided as a reference only. If you have questions regarding any information located within your policy, please be sure to contact one of our agents. We look forward to explaining the insurance terms within the policies you have through Today Insurance Services!

For words, phrases and terms that begin with an A through H, see our first glossary.

For words, phrases and terms that begin with an I through R, see our second glossary.

 

Insurance Glossary: S - Z

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.

SECONDARY MARKET
Market for previously issued and outstanding securities.

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION / SEC
The organization that oversees publicly-held insurance companies. Those companies make periodic financial disclosures to the SEC, including an annual financial statement (or 10K), and a quarterly financial statement (or 10-Q). Companies must also disclose any material events and other information about their stock.

SECURITIES OUTSTANDING
Stock held by shareholders.

SECURITIZATION OF INSURANCE RISK
Using the capital markets to expand and diversify the assumption of insurance risk. The issuance of bonds or notes to third-party investors directly or indirectly by an insurance or reinsurance company or a pooling entity as a means of raising money to cover risks.

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.

SINGLE PREMIUM ANNUITY
An annuity that is paid in full upon purchase.

SOFT MARKET
An environment where insurance is plentiful and sold at a lower cost, also known as a buyers’ market.

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.

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.

For more information about Stacking, contact our office and let us put a policy together for you Today!

STATUTORY ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLES / SAP
More conservative standards than under GAAP accounting rules, they are imposed by state laws that emphasize the present solvency of insurance companies. SAP helps ensure that the company will have sufficient funds readily available to meet all anticipated insurance obligations by recognizing liabilities earlier or at a higher value than GAAP and assets later or at a lower value. For example, SAP requires that selling expenses be recorded immediately rather than amortized over the life of the policy.

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.

SUPERFUND
A federal law enacted in 1980 to initiate cleanup of the nation’s abandoned hazardous waste dump sites and to respond to accidents that release hazardous substances into the environment. The law is officially called the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.

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

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.

SURRENDER CHARGE
A charge for withdrawals from an insurance based contract before a designated surrender charge period.

SWAPS
The simultaneous buying, selling or exchange of one security for another among investors to change maturities in a bond portfolio, for example, or because investment goals have changed.

TERM CERTAIN ANNUITY
An form of annuity that pays out over a fixed period rather than when the annuitant dies.

TERM INSURANCE
A form of life insurance that covers the insured person for a certain period of time, the “term” that is specified in the policy. It pays a benefit to a designated beneficiary only when the insured dies within that specified period which can be one, five, 10 or even 20 years. Term life policies are renewable but premiums increase with age.

For more information about Term Insurance, read our Life Insurance information.

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.

TERRORISM COVERAGE
Included as a part of the package in standard commercial insurance policies before September 11, 2001 virtually free of charge. Since September 11, terrorism coverage prices have increased substantially to reflect the current risk.

THIRD-PARTY ADMINISTRATOR
Outside group that performs clerical functions for an insurance company.

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.

TIME DEPOSIT
Funds that are held in a savings account for a predetermined period of time at a set interest rate. Banks can refuse to allow withdrawals from these accounts until the period has expired or assess a penalty for early withdrawals.

TITLE INSURANCE
Insurance that indemnifies the owner of real estate in the event that his or her clear ownership of property is challenged by the discovery of faults in the title.

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.

TRANSPARENCY
A term used to explain the way information on financial matters, such as financial reports and actions of companies or markets, are communicated so that they are easily understood and frank.

TRAVEL INSURANCE
Insurance to cover problems associated with traveling, generally including trip cancellation due to illness, lost luggage and other incidents.

TREASURY SECURITIES
Interest-bearing obligations of the U.S. government issued by the Treasury as a means of borrowing money to meet government expenditures not covered by tax revenues. Marketable Treasury securities fall into three categories — bills, notes and bonds. Marketable Treasury obligations are currently issued in book entry form only; that is, the purchaser receives a statement, rather than an engraved certificate.

TREATY REINSURANCE
A standing agreement between insurers and reinsurers. Under a treaty each party automatically accepts specific percentages of the insurer’s business.

UMBRELLA POLICY
Coverage for losses above the limit of an underlying policy or policies such as homeowners and auto insurance. While it applies to losses over the dollar amount in the underlying policies, terms of coverage are sometimes broader than those of underlying policies.

UNBUNDLED CONTRACTS
A form of annuity contract that gives purchasers the freedom to choose among certain optional features in their contract.

UNDERINSURANCE
The result of the policyholder’s failure to buy sufficient insurance. An underinsured policyholder may only receive part of the cost of replacing or repairing damaged items covered in the policy.

UNDERWRITING
Examining, accepting, or rejecting insurance risks and classifying the ones that are accepted, in order to charge appropriate premiums for them.

UNDERWRITING INCOME
The insurer’s profit on the insurance sale after all expenses and losses have been paid. When premiums aren’t sufficient to cover claims and expenses, the result is an underwriting loss. Underwriting losses are typically offset by investment income.

UNEARNED PREMIUM
The portion of a premium already received by the insurer under which protection has not yet been provided. The entire premium is not earned until the policy period expires, even though premiums are typically paid in advance.

UNINSURABLE RISK
Risks for which it is difficult for someone to get insurance.

UNINSURED MOTORISTS COVERAGE
Portion of an auto insurance policy that protects a policyholder from uninsured and hit-and-run drivers.

For more information about Uninsured Motorists Coverage, read our Auto Insurance information.

VALUED POLICY A policy under which the insurer pays a specified amount of money to or on behalf of the insured upon the occurrence of a defined loss. The money amount is not related to the extent of the loss. Life insurance policies are an example.

VANDALISM
The malicious and often random destruction or spoilage of another person’s property.

VARIABLE ANNUITY
An annuity whose contract value or income payments vary according to the performance of the stocks, bonds and other investments selected by the contract owner.

VARIABLE LIFE INSURANCE
A policy that combines protection against premature death with a savings account that can be invested in stocks, bonds, and money market mutual funds at the policyholder’s discretion.

VIATICAL SETTLEMENT COMPANIES
Insurance firms that buy life insurance policies at a steep discount from policyholders who are often terminally ill and need the payment for medications or treatments. The companies provide early payouts to the policyholder, assume the premium payments, and collect the face value of the policy upon the policyholder’s death.

VOID
A policy contract that for some reason specified in the policy becomes free of all legal effect. One example under which a policy could be voided is when information a policyholder provided is proven untrue.

VOLATILITY
A measure of the degree of fluctuation in a stock’s price. Volatility is exemplified by large, frequent price swings up and down.

VOLCANO COVERAGE
Most homeowners policies cover damage from a volcanic eruption.

VOLUME
Number of shares a stock trades either per day or per week.

WAIVER
The surrender of a right or privilege. In life insurance, a provision that sets certain conditions, such as disablement, which allow coverage to remain in force without payment of premiums.

WAR RISK
Special coverage on cargo in overseas ships against the risk of being confiscated by a government in wartime. It is excluded from standard ocean marine insurance and can be purchased separately. It often excludes cargo awaiting shipment on a wharf or on ships after 15 days of arrival in port.

WATER-DAMAGE INSURANCE COVERAGE
Protection provided in most homeowners insurance policies against sudden and accidental water damage, from burst pipes for example. Does not cover damage from problems resulting from a lack of proper maintenance such as dripping air conditioners. Water damage from floods is covered under separate flood insurance policies issued by the federal government.

WEATHER DERIVATIVE
An insurance or securities product used as a hedge by energy-related businesses and others whose sales tend to fluctuate depending on the weather.

WEATHER INSURANCE
A type of business interruption insurance that compensates for financial losses caused by adverse weather conditions, such as constant rain on the day scheduled for a major outdoor concert.

WHOLE LIFE
Insurance which provides coverage for an individual’s whole life, rather than a specified term. The oldest kind of cash value life insurance that combines protection against premature death with a savings account. Premiums are fixed and guaranteed and remain level throughout the policy’s lifetime.

For more information about Whole Life, read our Life Insurance information.

WORKERS COMPENSATION
Insurance that pays for medical care and physical rehabilitation of injured workers and helps to replace lost wages while they are unable to work. State laws, which vary significantly, govern the amount of benefits paid and other compensation provisions.

WRAP-UP INSURANCE
Broad policy coordinated to cover liability exposures for a large group of businesses that have something in common. Might be used to insure all businesses working on a large construction project, such as an apartment complex.

WRITE
To insure, underwrite, or accept an application for insurance.

NO TERMS AVAILABLE.
Yield on Invested Assets (IRIS) – Annual net investment income after expenses, divided by the mean of cash and net invested assets. This ratio measures the average return on a company’s invested assets. This ratio is before capital gains/losses and income taxes.
NO TERMS AVAILABLE.

 

NOTE: The glossary definitions provide a brief description of the meaning of words, terms and phrases often used within the insurance industry. These definitions are not applicable in all states or for all insurance and financial products. This insurance glossary is provided as a reference only and is not an insurance contract. This informational resource is not intended to fully set out your rights and obligations or the rights and obligations of Today Insurance Services, our agents or any agency or product affiliated with our company. If you have questions about your insurance, contact us.