Life Insurance Terms

Accelerated Benefits Rider
A life insurance rider that allows for the early payment of some portion of the policy's face amount should the insured suffer from a terminal illness or injury.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment
Insurance providing payment if the insured's death results from an accident or if the insured accidentally severs a limb above the wrist or ankle joints or totally and irreversibly loses his or her eyesight.

Accidental Death Benefit Rider
A life insurance policy rider providing for payment of an additional benefit related to the face amount of the base policy when death occurs by accidental means.

Annually Renewable Term
A form of renewable term insurance that provides coverage for one year and allows the policy owner to renew his or her coverage each year, without evidence of insurability. Also called Yearly Renewable Term (YRT).

The accumulated value of the annuity is converted into a guaranteed stream of income.

Form supplied by the insurance company, usually filled in by the agent and medical examiner (if applicable) on the basis of information received from the applicant. It is signed by the applicant and is part of the insurance policy if it is issued. It gives information to the home office underwriting department so it may consider whether an insurance policy will be issued and at what premium rate.

Back Dating
The practice of making a policy effective at an earlier date than the present.

Person to whom the proceeds of a life policy are payable when the insured dies. The various types of beneficiaries are: primary beneficiaries (those first entitled to proceeds); secondary beneficiaries (those entitled to proceeds if no primary beneficiary is living when the insured dies); and tertiary beneficiaries (those entitled to proceeds if no primary or secondary beneficiaries are alive when the insured dies).

Best's Insurance Report
A guide, published by A.M. Best, Inc., that rates insurers' financial integrity and managerial and operational strengths.

Business Continuation Plans
Arrangements between business owners that provide that the shares owned by any one of them who dies shall be sold to and purchased by the other co-owners or by the business.

Buy-Sell Agreements
Agreement that a deceased business owner's interest will be sold and purchased at a predetermined price or at a price according to a predetermined formula.

Cash Value
The equity amount or "savings" accumulation in a whole life policy.

Failure of the insured to disclose to the company a fact material to the acceptance of the risk at the time application is made.

Conditional Receipt
Given to policy owners when they pay a premium at time of application. Such receipts bind the insurance company if the risk is approved as applied for, subject to any other conditions stated on the receipt.

Contingent Beneficiary
Person or persons named to receive proceeds in case the original beneficiary is not alive. Also referred to as secondary or tertiary beneficiary.

Conversion Privilege
Allows the policy-owner, before an original insurance policy expires, to elect to have a new policy issued that will continue the insurance coverage. Conversion may be effected at attained age (premiums based on the age attained at time of conversion) or at original age (premiums based on age at time of original issue).

Convertible Term
Contract that may be converted to a permanent form of insurance without medical examination.

Cross-Purchase Plan
An agreement that provides that upon a business owner's death, surviving owners will purchase the deceased's interest, often with funds from life insurance.

Decreasing Term 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. The intervals between decreases are usually monthly or annually.

Disability Income Rider
A type of health insurance coverage, it provides for the payment of regular, periodic income should the insured become disabled from illness or injury.

Double Indemnity
A provision in a life insurance policy, subject to specified conditions and exclusions, under the terms of which double the face amount of the policy is payable if the death of the insured is the result of an accident. In general, the conditions are that the insured's death occurs prior to a specified age and results from bodily injury effected solely through external, violent and accidental means independently and exclusively of all other cause, within 60 or 90 days after such injury.

Evidence of Insurability
Any statement or proof of a person's physical condition, occupation, etc., affecting acceptance of the applicant for insurance.

Specified hazards listed in a policy for which benefits will not be paid.

Face Amount
Commonly used to refer to the principal sum involved in the contract. The actual amount payable may be decreased by loans or increased by additional benefits payable under specified conditions or stated in a rider.

Free Look
Provision required in most states whereby policy owners have either 10 or 20 days to examine their new policies at no obligation.

Grace Period
Period of time after the due date of a premium during which the policy remains in force without penalty.

Guaranteed Insurability (Guaranteed Issue)
Arrangement, usually provided by rider, whereby additional insurance may be purchased at various times without evidence of insurability.

Guaranty Association
Established by each state to support insurers and protect consumers in the case of insurer insolvency, guaranty associations are funded by insurers through assessments.

Incontestable Clause
Provides that, for certain reasons such as misstatements on the application, the company may void a life policy after it has been in force during the insured's lifetime, usually one or two years after issue.

Increasing Term Insurance
Term life insurance in which the death benefit increases periodically over the policy's term. Usually purchased as a cost of living rider to a whole life policy.

Independent Agency System
A system for marketing, selling and distributing insurance in which independent brokers are not affiliated with any one insurer but represent any number of insurers.

Inspection Report
Report of an investigator providing facts required for a proper decision on applications for new insurance and reinstatements.

All conditions pertaining to individuals that affect their health, susceptibility to injury and life expectancy; an individual's risk profile.

Insurable Interest
Requirement of insurance contracts that loss must be sustained by the applicant upon the death of another and it must be sufficient to warrant compensation.

Social device for minimizing risk of uncertainty regarding loss by spreading the risk over a large enough number of similar exposures to predict the individual chance of loss.

Party that provides insurance coverage, typically through a contract of insurance.

Key Employee Insurance
Protection of a business against financial loss caused by the death or disablement of a vital member of the company, usually individuals possessing special managerial or technical skill or expertise. Also called key executive insurance.

Termination of a policy upon the policy owner's failure to pay the premium within the grace period.

Level Term Insurance
Term coverage on which the face value and premiums remain unchanged from the date the policy comes into force to the date the policy expires.

Medical Examination
Usually conducted by a licensed physician; the medical report is part of the application, becomes part of the policy contract and is attached to the policy. A "non-medical" is a short-form medical report filled out by the agent. Various company rules, such as amount of insurance applied for or already in force; applicant's age, sex, past physical history; data revealed by inspection report, etc., determine whether the examination will be "medical" or "non-medical."

A document completed by a physician or another approved examiner and submitted to an insurer to supply medical evidence of insurability (or lack of insurability) or in relation to a claim.

Act of making, issuing, circulating or causing to be issued or circulated an estimate, an illustration, a circular or a statement of any kind that does not represent the correct policy terms, dividends or share of surplus or the name or title for any policy or class of policies that does not in fact reflect its true nature.

The relative incidence of death within a given group.

Mortgage Insurance
A basic use for life insurance, so-called because many family heads purchase insurance for specifically paying off any mortgage balance outstanding at their death. The insurance generally is made payable to a family beneficiary instead of to the mortgage holder.

Non-Medical Insurance
Issued on a regular basis without requiring a regular medical examination. In passing on the risk, the company relies on the applicant's answers to questions regarding his or her physical condition and on personal references or inspection reports.

Offer and Acceptance
The offer may be made by the applicant by signing the application, paying the first premium and, if necessary, submitting to physical examination. Policy issuance, as applied for, constitutes acceptance by the company. Or the offer may be made by the company when no premium payment is submitted with the application. Premium payment on the offered policy then constitutes acceptance by the applicant.

Other Insured Rider
A term rider covering a family member other than the insured that is attached to the base policy covering the insured.

Preferred Risk
A risk whose physical condition, occupation, mode of living and other characteristics indicate a prospect for longevity superior to that of the average longevity of unimpaired lives of the same age. (See standard risk.)

The periodic payment required to keep and insurance policy in force.

Primary Beneficiary
In life insurance, the beneficiary designated by the insured as the first to receive policy benefits.

Net amount of money payable by the company at the insured's death or at policy maturity.

Rate-Up in Age
System of rating substandard risks that involves assuming the insured to be older than he or she really is and charging a correspondingly higher premium.

Returning part of the commission or giving anything else of value to the insured as an inducement to buy the policy. It is illegal and cause for license revocation in most states. In some states, it is an offense by both the agent and the person receiving the rebate.

Re-entry Option
An option in a renewable term life policy under which the policy owner is guaranteed, at the end of the term, to be able to renew his or her coverage without evidence of insurability, at a premium rate specified in the policy.

Putting a lapsed policy back in force by producing satisfactory evidence of insurability and paying any past-due premiums required.

Renewable Term
Some term policies provide that they may be renewed on the same plan for one or more years without medical examination but with rates based on the insured's attained age.

Act of replacing one life insurance policy with another; may be done legally under certain conditions. (See twisting.)

Statements made by applicants on their applications for insurance that they represent as being substantially true to the best of their knowledge and belief but that are not warranted as exact in every detail.

Strictly speaking, a rider adds something to a policy. However, the term is used loosely to refer to any supplemental agreement attached to and made a part of the policy, whether the policy's conditions are expanded and additional coverages added, or a coverage or condition is waived.

Risk Selection
The method a home office underwriter uses to choose applicants that the insurance company will accept. The underwriter must determine whether risks are standard, substandard or preferred and set the premium rates accordingly.

Salary Continuation Plan
An arrangement whereby an income, usually related to an employee's salary, is continued upon his or her death; often paid to the employee's beneficiary.

Secondary Beneficiary
An alternate beneficiary designated to receive payment, usually in the event the original beneficiary predeceases the insured.

Section 1035 Exchanges
Certain life insurance policy or annuity exchanges that are considered, according to Internal Revenue Code section 1035, to be tax-free.

Standard Risk
Person who, according to a company's underwriting standards, is entitled to insurance protection without extra rating or special restrictions.

Stock Redemption Plan
An agreement under which a closely held corporation purchases a deceased stockholder's interest.

Sub-Standard Risk
Person who is considered an under-average or impaired insurance risk because of physical condition, family or personal history of disease, occupation, residence in unhealthy climate or dangerous habits.

Suicide Clause
Most life insurance policies provide that if the insured commits suicide within a specified period, usually two years, after the issue date, the company's liability will be limited to a return of premiums paid.

Term Insurance
Protection during limited number of years; expiring without value if the insured survives the stated period, which may be one or more years but usually is five to twenty years, because such periods usually cover the needs for temporary protection.

Term of Policy
Period for which the policy runs. In life insurance, this is to the end of the term period for term insurance.

Tertiary Beneficiary
In life insurance, a beneficiary designated as third in line to receive the proceeds or benefits if the primary and secondary beneficiaries do not survive the insured.

Third-Party Owner
A policy owner who is not the prospective insured.

Practice of inducing a policy owner in one company to lapse, forfeit or surrender a life insurance policy for the purpose of taking out a policy in another company. Generally classified as a misdemeanor, subject to fine, revocation of license and sometimes imprisonment.

Company receiving premiums and accepting responsibility for fulfilling the policy contract. Also, company employee who decides whether the company should assume a particular risk; or the agent who sells the policy.

Uniform Simultaneous Death Act
Model law that states when an insured and beneficiary die at the same time, it is presumed that the insured survived the beneficiary.

A distinguishing characteristic of a life insurance contract in that it is only the insurance company that pledges anything. The policy owner does not even promise to pay premiums; therefore, it is really a one-sided contract favoring the policy owner.

Uninsurable Risk
One not acceptable for insurance due to excessive risk.

Universal Life
Flexible premium, two-part contract containing renewable term insurance and a cash value account that generally earns interest at a higher rate than a traditional policy. The interest rate varies. Premiums are deposited in the cash value accounts after the company deducts its fee and a monthly cost for the term coverage.

Waiver of Premium
Rider or provision included in most life insurance policies exempting the insured from paying premiums after he or she has been disabled for a specified period of time, usually six months.

Yearly Renewable Term (YRT)
(See Annually Renewable Term)