Terms used in Insurance

Business studies study module


This is a written contract that transfers to an insurer the financial responsibility for losses arising from insured risk.


This is the specified amount of money paid at regular intervals the insured to the insurer for coverage against losses arising from a particular risk.


These are perils or events against which an insurance cover is taken. It is the calamity or problem a person or business faces and results into losses.

Note: The calculation of premiums depends upon the type of risk insured against. The higher the probability of the risk occurring, the higher the premium. The more the risks the business or person is exposed to the more the premiums payable.

Pure risk

This is a risk which results in a loss if it occurs and results in no gains if it does not occur. For example, if a car is involved in an accident, there will be a loss and if the accident does not occur there will be no gain or loss

Speculative risk

This is a risk which when it occurs, may result in a loss or a profit. For example, a person may buy shares at ksh.50 each, one year later the shares may be valued at ksh40 each meaning a loss of ksh.10

Alternatively, their value might not have changed or might have increased to ksh.45 each. Speculative risk lures people to venture into business in the first place.


This is the individual or the business that takes out the insurance cover and therefore becomes the policy holder

The insured pays premiums to the insurance company to be compensated should the risk insured against occur or cause loss.


This is the business company that undertakes to provide cover or protection to the people who suffer loss as a result of occurrence of risks


These are people employed an insurance company to complete expected losses and calculate the value of premiums.


This is a demand the insured for payment from the insurer due to some loss arising from an insured risk.


This is a document that contains the terms and conditions of the contract between the insurer and the insured. Its issued upon payment of the first premium.

Information contained in a policy includes;

  • Name, address and occupation
  • Policy number of the insured
  • Details of risks insured
  • Value of property insured
  • Premiums payable
  • Other special conditions of the insurance, for example nominees

Actual value

This is the true value of the property insured

Sum insured

This is the value for which property is insured, as stated the insured at the time of taking the policy.

Surrender value

This is the amount of money that is refunded to the insured the insurer in case the former(i.e. the insured) terminates payment of the premiums before the insurance contract matures. The policyholder is paid an amount less than the total amount of the premium paid.

Grace period

This is term allowed between the date of signing the contract and the date of payment of the first premium. During this period the insurance contract remains valid. This period is usually a maximum of thirty (30) days.


This is a person wishing to take out an insurance cover (prospective insured)

Cover note (Binder)

This is a document given the insurance company to an insured on payment of the first premium while awaiting for the policy to be processed. It is proof of evidence that the insurer has accepted to cover a proposed risk.


This is a fixed amount of money that an insurer agrees to pay the insured annually until the latter’s death. It occurs when a person saves a lumpsum amount of money with an insurer in return for a guaranteed payment which will continue until he/she dies.

Consequential loss

This is loss incurred a business as a result of disruption of business in the event of the insured risk occurring.


This is the transfer of an insurance policy an insured to another person. Any claims arising from the transferred policy passes to the new policy holder called an assignee


These are people named in a life assurance policy who are to be paid the insurer in the event of the insured


This is the act of designing one or more people who would be the beneficiaries in the event of death of the insured. These people are called nominees

Average clause

This clause is usually included in policies to discourage under-insurance. The clause provides that the insured can only recover such proportions of the loss as the value of the policy bears on the property insured. It is usually included in marine or fire insurance policies.

The amounts recoverable are arrived at using the following formulae:

Compensation=value of the policy loss

Value of property


If a house worth kshs.800,000 and insured against fire for kshs.600,000 was damaged fire to the tune of kshs.400,000,the insured would be compensated;

Double insurance

This is taking of insurance policies with more than one company in respect to the same subject matter and the risk. It is significant because if one of the insurers is insolvent at the time the claim arises the insured can enforce his/her claim against the solvent insurer or if both insurers are solvent then they share compensation.

(Insolvency is a state where a business is not able to pay all its liabilities from its existing assets)


This is an undertaking more than one insurance company to provide insurance cover for the same risk for an insured. This will usually occur for properties that have great value and face great risk exposures that an insurer cannot successfully make compensation for e.g. value of aeroplanes, ships e.t.c

Co-insurance help spread risks to several insurers, each insurer covering only a certain proportion of the total value. The insurance company with the largest share is called the “leader” and acts on behalf of all the participating insurance companies’ e.g. in collecting premiums from the insured and carrying out documentation work, making claim after collecting each insurers premium contribution e.t.c

Note: Co-insurance is different from double-insurance in that in co-insurance company approaches another insurance company to help in covering the insured property while in double-insurance; it’s the insured who decides to approach different insurance companies to insure the same property against the same risk.


‘Re-insurance’ means insuring again. This is a situation where an insurance company insures itself with a bigger insurance company called le-insurer for all or part of the risks insured with it members of the public

Re-insurance indirectly insure an individuals risks.Re-insurance helps to reduce the burden on an insurance company when the loss is too high for a single insurer. When such losses occurs, the claim is met both the insurer and re-insurer(s) proportionately (according to agreed percentages)


Re-insurance deal with the protection of insurance companies only, while insurance companies protect individuals and business organizations.

Factors that may make it necessary for an insurance company to Re-insure

  • Value of property-When the value of property is great, such as ship, the risk is too high to be borne a single insurer
  • High risk of loss-When chances of loss through the insured risks are high, it becomes necessary to re-insure.
  • Number of risks covered-When the insurance company has insured many different risks, it would be too costly to compensate many claims at once, hence the need for re-insurance
  • Need to spread the risk-When the insurance company wishes to share liability in the event of a major loss occurring
  • Government policy-The government may make a legal requirement for an insurance company to re-insure


This occurs when the sum insured as contained in the policy is less than the actual value of the property e.g. A property of shs.500, 000 can be offered for insurance as having a value of shs.400, 000


This is a situation where the sum insured is more than the correct value of property e.g. a person insures property of shs.300,000 for shs.600,000.If total loss occurs, he is compensated the correct value of the property i.e. that which he has lost


These are people who sell insurance policies on behalf of the insurance company. They are paid on commission that is dependent upon the total value of policies sold

Insurance Brokers

These are professional middlemen in the insurance process. They connect the people wishing to take insurance with the insurers. They act on behalf of many different insurance firms, unlike agents. Their activities include:

  • Examination of insurance market trends
  • Correspondence between the insured and his clients
  • Advising the insured and would be policyholders on the best policies for their property e.t.c.

He receives a commission (reward) known as brokerage.

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