We’ve put together this glossary to help you get a better understanding of “insurance-speak.”

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  • Accident

    An unplanned event (unexpected and undesigned) which occurs suddenly and at definite place.

  • Act of God

    An event arising out of natural causes with no human intervention which could not have been prevented by reasonable care or foresight. Example flood, earthquake.

  • Actual Cash Value

    The actual or current value at the time of the loss. This may be the cost of replacing the article with a similar model and in similar condition. It may however involve the price of the article plus any appreciation since its purchase and less depreciation.

  • Adjuster

    A representative of the insurer who seeks to determine the extent of the firm’s liability for loss when a claim is submitted.

  • Appraisal

    An evaluation of property made to ascertain either the appropriate amount of insurance to be written or the amount of loss to be paid.

  • Authorization

    The granting of authority (i.e. to proceed with repairs).

  • Betterment

    Where the results of repairs or replacement after a loss result in receiving something better than one had before the loss, the difference is known as betterment.

  • Claim

    A demand made by the Insured, or the Insured’s beneficiary, for payment of benefits provided by the contract.

  • Claimant

    The person making demand for the payment of benefits.

  • Collision Reporting Center

    In some cities (i.e. Toronto) it is a requirement to visit a collision reporting centre rather than call the police if the damages are minor and the vehicles are driveable. The reporting centres are staffed by police officers. All particulars are recorded by both drivers and photos taken of the vehicles. The occurrence report is then retained on file.

  • Computer Assisted Appraisal

    Computer software utilized by many auto body shops and property contractors to complete damage estimates.

  • Constructive Total Loss

    A partial loss but where the damage is so extensive that repairs would cost as much or more than the property is worth or the limit of insurance.

  • Coverage

    The scope of the protection provided under the contract of insurance.

  • Deductible

    The portion of an insured loss to be borne by the insured before he is entitled to recovery from the insurer.

  • Deductible clause

    A contract provision that sets forth the deductible.

  • Depreciation

    The decrease in the value of any type of tangible property over a period of time resulting from use, wear and tear, or obsolescence.

  • Disability

    A condition that curtails to some degree a person’s ability to carry on his normal pursuits. A disability may be partial or total, and temporary or permanent.

  • Downtime

    The period of time between damage and repair where an economic loss occurs.

  • Estimate

    Estimated cost of damage repair.

  • Highway Traffic Act

    Laws governing the obligations of the Provincial Government and users of the road.

  • Hit and Run

    Collision between a motor vehicle and another motor vehicle, object or pedestrian, where the driver of the vehicle leaves the scene of the accident without identifying himself/herself.

  • Hold up

    The taking of money or property from another by putting the victim in fear of personal violence.

  • Indemnity

    A contract expressed or implied to repay in the event of a loss.

  • Indemnify

    To restore the victim of a loss to the same position as before the loss occurred.

  • Independent Adjuster

    An adjuster who works as an independent contractor, hiring himself out to insurance companies or other organizations for the investigation and settlement of claims.

  • Insurable Interest

    A direct monetary interest in the insured property sufficient to result in monetary loss should the property be damaged or destroyed.

  • Insurance to Value

    Insurance written in an amount approximating the value of the property insured.

  • Insured

    The party to an insurance arrangement whom the insurer agrees to indemnify for losses, provide benefits for, or render services to.

  • Insurer

    The party to an insurance arrangement who undertakes to indemnify for losses, provide pecuniary benefits, or render services.

  • Lessee

    One to whom a lease is granted.

  • Lessor

    One who grants a lease.

  • Liability

    A responsibility of one person to another enforceable in law.

  • Lien

    A word that indicates an incumberance on property, either for discharge of a duty or the payment of a debt. When a lien exists, the conditions attaching to the issue of an insurance contract, require that it be disclosed to the Company.

  • Loss of Use

    Insurance protection against loss due to the inability to use property because of its damage or destruction.

  • Loss Payable clause

    Clause inserted in an insurance policy to specifically identify interested parties (i.e Insured and other interests such as mortgagees, trustees, etc.).

  • Market Value

    The value of an asset based on a current market value.

  • Material fact

    Something affecting a contract of insurance significant enough to change the agreement between the Company and the Policyholder.

  • Misrepresentation

    An incorrect statement made about a material fact. If the statement is made deliberately with intent to deceive the contract could become null and void.

  • Mitigate

    To make less severe (i.e. steps to eliminate further damage after a loss occurs).

  • Mortgagee

    The person who has loaned his money to another and taken the security of the property in exchange.

  • Mysterious Disappearance

    The disappearance of property in an unexplained manner.

  • Negligence

    Failure to use the degree of care expected from a reasonable and prudent person.

  • Notice of Loss

    Written notice of the loss to the Insurance Company as outlined in the conditions of the Insurance policy.

  • Partial loss

    A loss covered by an insurance policy which does not completely destroy or render worthless the insured property.

  • Payee

    The person receiving money.

  • Peril

    The cause of a possible loss.

  • Policy

    The written statement of a contract effecting insurance, or certificates thereof, by whatever name called, and including all clauses, riders, endorsements and papers attached thereto and made part thereof.

  • Policy Period

    The period during which the policy contract affords protection.

  • Preinspection

    Legal requirement in Ontario arising out of Bill 59 for inspection of certain qualifying vehicles when being added to an existing policy or submitted as new business.

  • Premises

    The particular location of a property or a portion thereof as designated in a policy.

  • Prior Damage

    Pre-existing damage that occurred prior to the loss in question.

  • Proof of Loss

    A statement made to the insurance company under oath setting out the basis of the insured’s claim under the insurance policy.

  • Proscription

    Outside of the time period in which a legal action can be commenced.

  • Proximate Cause

    The immediate and effective cause of the loss; not necessarily the last event before the occurrence which in a chain of circumstances leads naturally and directly in the ordinary cause of events to the loss.

  • Public Adjuster

    An insurance adjuster who represents an Insured on a fee basis in claim settlement.

  • Replacement Cost

    The cash value representing what it would cost to replace the particular article which is the subject of the insurance.

  • Robbery

    The taking of another’s property by force or threat of personal violence.

  • Salvage

    The value of property after fire or other peril which value is used to reduce the total loss.

  • Schedule of Loss

    Notice completed by Insured documenting loss or damage to contents, personal property and stock.

  • Subrogation

    The right of the Insurance Company after payment of a loss to recover from the responsible party.

  • Suit

    A legal proceeding by one person against another.

  • Tear Down

    Dismantle certain parts of a car in order to determine if there is hidden damage.

  • Total Loss

    Cost of damage repair exceeds the value of the property.

  • Waive

    To forego. In case of insurance deductible to refrain from insisting upon application under specific conditions.

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