The “language of insurance” can seem foreign to a lot of us. The lingo can be obscure; words and terminologies that are unfamiliar to those outside of the industry. LifeQuote wants you to be in the “know”, an insider in this complicated world of life insurance. That is why we provide you with this glossary of insurance terms in an effort to help our customers decipher and understand the concepts and terms relating to the insurance industry. We want you to share our knowledge because the more familiar you are with this life insurance lingo the better you will understand how to select and buy the right life insurance policy for you. If you cannot find the term or definition you are looking for let us know and we will be glad to research it and provide the explanation. 1.800.521.7873.
Below are some of the more commonly used life insurance terms.
Premium: A payment made to the life insurance company for coverage.
Return of Premium: Return of premium life insurance is a term insurance policy that provides both death benefit protection and a return of premium insurance feature. Return of premium life Insurance allows policyholders to keep their policy for the term period, at the end of that time whether 15, 20 or 30 years, the life insurance company that issued the insurance with the return of premium policy, returns the entire premium that you paid for the insurance.
Coverage: The total amount and type of life insurance carried.
Face Amount: The face amount is the money that would be paid out in case of death.
Insurer: The company responsible for payout.
Beneficiary: The party who will receive the benefit in the event the insured dies.
Accelerated Benefits: Accelerated Benefits are sometimes known as a Benefit Advance Rider. A Rider added to many Term Insurance Policies policies that provide an advance of a portion of Term Insurance policy death proceeds prior to death if the insured is terminally ill or in some cases confined to a nursing home. This Advanced Insurance Benefit is paid only under certain specific circumstances. Eligibility requirements and calculation of Insurance Benefit amounts are spelled out in the Life Insurance policy and vary by Life Insurance Company.
Accidental Death Benefit Rider: This Accidental Death Benefit Rider pays a Life Insurance Benefit in addition to the Regular Life Insurance Policy amount only if death occurs as a result of an accident.
Annuity: A Life Insurance policy that either accumulates premium deposits for payment of a future income ( Deferred Annuity ), or an Insurance Policy that provides a periodic income guaranteed by the Life Insurance Company for a specified period of time. (Immediate Annuity)
Death benefit: The amount paid by the insurance company to the beneficiary when the person insured under the policy dies. The benefit can include the original or basic policy death benefit, dividends, and supplemental benefits. The total of all these benefits will be reduced by any outstanding policy loans, loan interest, prior policy withdrawals, or benefits paid under an accelerated benefit rider.
Contestable period: A life insurance company may contest a death claim for a specified period of time after the policy is in force. The contestable period is stated in the policy and is subject-to state regulations. The most common contestable period is two years.
Conditional Receipt: Some applicants may want to submit the initial premium payment with the application and have coverage before the policy is issued. The conditional receipt is found inside the life insurance application and it spells out the insurance company’s terms and conditions under which they may pay a death benefit. Consumers should be aware that Life Insurance Companies limit the maximum amount of coverage under a conditional receipt and have very specific qualifications that must be met. Be sure and carefully read the conditional receipt page in the application.
Cash surrender value: The amount that a policy owner may receive if they cash surrender (cancel) a permanent life insurance policy (Universal Life Insurance or Whole Life Insurance*. The net amount payable is the cash surrender value reduced by outstanding policy loans, loan interest, or any prior withdrawals taken from the policy.
Back dating: Many Top Rated Insurance Companies will allow a Life Insurance Applicant to request a Term policy effective a date earlier than their application date in order to get a lower Life insurance Rate. Age, for life insurance premium purposes may be based on last birthday, or nearest birthday. The maximum length of time that a policy can be back dated is six months in most states. If a policy is back dated to save age, all premiums that would have been paid during the back dated period will have to be paid when the policy is issued. When comparing the value of back dating a policy to save a younger age, consider how much in back premiums would have to be paid compared to the savings in premium over the life of the policy.
Attained age conversion: The ability to exchange Term Policy for a Permanent Policy offered by the same company. The Life Insurance premium for the new Life Insurance policy is based on the age of the insured at the time of the conversion. This Insurance Policy Benefit allows a Policyholder to extend Insurance coverage farther into the future without having to undergo a new medical exam. Conversion is only available for a specified number of years after the original term policy is purchased, or may be limited to a maximum age. Some term Life policies may not offer a conversion feature. Check with the life insurance company for applicable rules.
Application: The Whole Life Insurance Application forms that are completed by an applicant for Life Insurance. The Life Insurance Application includes questions about health, family history, occupation, hazardous sports, motor vehicle record, income and more.
Applicant: A Persom who applies for a Life Insurance Policy. Life Insurance Policies can be applied for as Individual Insurance Policies, a Trust Policy or a Business Policy.
Underwriting: The process in which the insurance company evaluates an applicant to determine if they will offer insurance and if so, at what rate class. The life insurance company considers information in the application, medical exam, lab results, motor vehicle report, consumer interview /or inspection as well as information from attending physicians.
Term insurance: A policy that pays a benefit only if the insured dies during a specified period of time. Term is only a death benefit plan and offers no cash values. For consumers needing life insurance for a limited period of time, term insurance offers the lowest premium.
Suicide provision: If the insured takes their own life within a specified period of time after buying a policy, the life insurance company will not pay a benefit. Usually the provision is effective for the first two years after the policy effective date. Specific provisions may vary, check the language in the policy.
Survivor life: Also known as second to die insurance. This policy covers two people, often a husband and wife or two business partners. The policy is designed to pay a death benefit only on the second death. This is especially useful when used as part of a professionally designed estate plan. The cost of a survivor life policy is often significantly less than the cost of two identical individual permanent policies.
Sales illustration: A print out from the insurance company that illustrates the premiums, benefits and values of the proposed policy. Sales illustrations must comply with state regulations and contain clear disclosure of both guaranteed and non guaranteed features of the policy. Most life insurance companies now require an applicant sign the illustration and include it with the application. For your protection, LifeQuote requires all applicants to sign the sales illustration that is included with every application.
Rider: A supplemental benefit that may be added to a policy. Some popular riders are waiver of premium upon total disability, accidental death benefit, family or child rider, and the accelerated benefit rider.
Reinstatement: Subject-to the life insurance company’s guidelines, a policy owner may apply to reinstate a lapsed policy. A reinstatement typically requires an application, medical evidence to confirm good health, and payment of back premiums. The insurance company has the right to decline to reinstate a lapsed policy if the former insured has developed health or other problems.
Policy owner: The person or entity that owns the policy. The policy owner can be the insured, a family member, a business associate, an employer, or a trust. The policy owner must have a risk of economic loss (insurable interest) if the insured dies.
Rate class: Insurance companies offer different rates depending upon current health, personal history, family history, hazardous activities, occupation, and other factors. “Standard” is the rate class for people who are in average health. For people in better than average health and who meet additional insurance company criteria, a “preferred class” may be available. Premiums for the preferred class are lower than a standard premium. In some companies, there may be a “super preferred class” for people in excellent health. The super preferred class is the most difficult to qualify for and offers the lowest possible rates. To qualify for super preferred, an applicant must not use tobacco, and meet the insurance company’s height and weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, personal history and family history requirements.
For people with special circumstances, such as medical history, a current medical condition, or a hazardous occupation or sport, the life insurance company may charge an additional amount to cover a special risk. This added premium is called a rating, or special risk class. If the condition or circumstance that caused the rating improves, the life insurance company may, at their sole discretion, reconsider the rating after a specified period of time.
Policy: The actual written contract between the insurance company and the policy owner. Included in the policy are a statement of policy benefits and provisions, tables with guarantees of premiums and/or cash values, specific language explaining policy benefits and any riders or supplemental benefits, and a copy of the application as completed by the insured and/or policy owner. The language in the policy is the only official source of definitions for policy benefits, limits, options, etc.
Life insurance: A contract in which an insurance company promises to pay a death benefit in the event the person insured under the policy dies. Protects against economic loss in the event of death.
Level premium: Many term policies provide a level premium for period ranging from five to thirty years. Most policies offer a rate guarantee for a stated number of years that may or may not extend over the entire level premium period. Consumers should be aware that some level premium term policies do not provide a full premium guarantee (example: only ten years guaranteed on a fifteen year level term policy) LifeQuote recommends that consumers consider policies that are guaranteed for the entire period.
Lapse: The termination of coverage when premiums are not paid on time. Typically, the insurance company must receive the premium payment within thirty days of the due date.
Fraud: It is against the law to deliberately provide false information to an insurance company when applying for insurance.
Free look: All states require that an insurance company provide every new policy owner with a free look period. During this period, a policy owner may return the new policy to the life insurance company for cancellation for whatever reason, and if a premium was already paid, receive a full refund. The free look period is stated in the policy.
Family benefit rider: Sometimes known as a spousal or child rider. This provides a supplemental death benefit on a spouse and/or on dependent children. When considering a benefit for a spouse, it is worth considering two separate term policies from the same company because some companies offer a “spousal discount” which can save significant amounts of money, and may be less expensive than a family benefit rider.