Insurance is sometimes a legal requirement and often a good idea. Understand the different types of insurance, read company reviews, get help with claims, and learn how to save money on health, life, home, auto, and other types of coverage.
The premise of insurance is to transfer risk from one or more people, a business, or an entity to a group of insureds that pay premiums into a pool; it’s from this pool of premiums that losses from covered perils are paid. An insurance policy is a contract between an insurance company and at least one individual in which the insurer agrees to pay specified damages in exchange for a premium.
Insurance can provide peace of mind when you don’t need it, and can be a financial life raft when you do. Health insurance, for example, covers costly possibly unaffordable, medical bills if you become ill or injured; auto insurance can pay to replace your totaled car; and life insurance can enable your family to survive without your income.
Auto, homeowners or renters insurance, health, and life insurance are some of the most important types of coverage. If you drive, you need auto insurance; if you rent or own, you’ll need renters or homeowners insurance. Health insurance protects you from having to pay for unaffordable medical procedures if you get hurt or sick. And life insurance is crucial if you have children or others who depend on you.
Insurance companies profit from premiums and also invest heavily in a range of financial securities, primarily consisting of bonds. Some state regulators evaluate investment returns to determine if insurance companies are charging consumers rates that are too high or low.
The five main parts of your policy are:
The two main types are term and permanent. Term life insurance is valid for a set period of time, usually one to 30 years, and pays a death benefit only if you die within that time frame. Permanent life insurance is designed to last throughout your life and pays a death benefit as long as you have an active policy. Both term and permanent policies have additional types available as well.
An insurance quote estimates the premium you'd pay for insurance coverage based on information you provide. A quote usually details policy specifics such as deductibles, coverage limits, riders, and the types of coverage offered. A quote is not an offer of insurance and your final premium may differ, depending on the additional information you provide on the application.
Insurance policy limits are the maximum an insurer will pay for a particular type of coverage.
Mitigation is when the party suffering a loss in an insurance claim takes reasonable actions to prevent additional losses.
An insurance declaration page is a summary of what is contained in an insurance policy. It comes at the start of policy paperwork and contains important information such as your deductible, policy effective dates, coverage, discounts, and more.
An insurance grace period is the length of time you have after your due date to pay your premium before your insurance company cancels your coverage.
Underwriters are trained insurance professionals who understand risks and how to prevent them. They have specialized knowledge in risk assessment and use this knowledge to determine whether they'll insure something or someone, and at what cost.
An insurance claim is a formal request for payment made by someone to their policy provider. A claim is made after an incident occurs that's covered by the policy.
Indemnification is a legal principle that means your insurer agrees to compensate you for covered losses in amounts equivalent to what was lost.
An insurance appraisal is a documented assessment of a property’s replacement value by a qualified professional.
Depreciation is the loss in an item’s financial value due to age, wear and tear from use, and other factors.
Actual cash value (ACV) is an insurance industry method of valuation that accounts for depreciation, meaning the actual cash value is typically less than the amount paid.