Financial terms from A to Z.

Actual cash value

The value of property at the time it was stolen or destroyed, arrived at by subtracting depreciation from the replacement cost of the item.

Bodily injury liability coverage

Pays for medical expenses, legal expenses, and judgments when the policyholder’s car is involved in an accident that causes property damage and/or the injury or death of another person.

California Earthquake Authority (CEA)

A state-sponsored partnership between private companies and the government offering earthquake insurance policies in the state.


When an insurer discontinues an auto policy because a driver fails to pay the premium, loses driving privileges, or has not accurately reported the facts relating to his level of risk. A cancellation may make it difficult to get insurance for a long time to come.


A request to an insurer for compensation for a loss.

Collision coverage

Covers the damage to a policyholder’s vehicle resulting from a collision, regardless of who is responsible. Collision coverage typically requires the payment of a deductible by the policyholder.

Comprehensive physical damage coverage

Pays for damage to a policyholder’s car that is not the result of an auto accident, such as theft, vandalism, fire, hail, natural disasters, hitting a deer. Comprehensive coverage requires a deductible, and will only pay as much as the car was worth before sustaining the damage.

Damage depreciation

Commonly used in aviation policies to describe the inherent loss of value to an aircraft that has been damaged and repaired. An identical aircraft that had never been damaged would be worth more in a sale than one that has been repaired, even if the repair work was exemplary.


The amount of a claim that the insured must pay before the insurance company will cover the rest.


The loss of an asset’s value over time.

Earthquake insurance

A specific policy covering home repair and the replacement of personal property lost to seismic activity.


An agreement added to a policy to change the amount of coverage offered by that policy. Once attached, an endorsement supersedes the original terms of the policy.

First-party claim

Request to an insurance company by one of its policyholders for compensation for a loss.


A separate policy designed to extend the coverage of the basic insurance policy for an item or collection of items. It's called a floater because sometimes the asset may “float” from location to location with the owner’s use.

Flood insurance

A private or government-sponsored policy covering home repair and the replacement of personal property damaged by a flood. Normally not included in basic homeowner's policies.

Flood insurance rate map (FIRM)

A map developed by the National Flood Insurance Program showing base flood elevations, risk zones, and floodplain boundaries; used in determining flood insurance premiums.

Flood zone

Area in which the likelihood of a flood is much higher than average.

Homeowner's insurance

An insurance policy that covers a home and its contents against loss, and helps protect the insured from liability claims, up to the policy limits.

Hull insurance

Portion of an aircraft or a yacht policy that covers physical damage to the insured craft.

Intentional misconduct

Willful damage to property or injury to others; distinct from negligence.

Lienholders interest endorsement

Also called “breach of warranty”; optional coverage in an aviation policy that pays a lienholder the balance of a loan in the event the aircraft is damaged in a manner that also voids the policy; favors the lienholder, not the policyholder.

Loan/lease gap insurance

Covers the difference between a car’s actual cash value and the amount still owed on a loan or lease.

Medical payments coverage

Covers the medical bills incurred by policyholders and their passengers after an auto accident, regardless of who is at fault.

Just as a teenager will have to pay more for being young and inexperienced, drivers can expect to pay less as they reach the age range where they are statistically the safest on the road, roughly from ages 40 to 55. In some cases, rates may go up as a driver becomes elderly.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

Coverage against flooding for personal and business property under the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968, provided by a partnership of private insurers and the government.


Failure to exercise care, resulting in injury to others or damage to property.

No-fault laws

Regulations in some states that require each person involved in an auto accident to pay his or her own medical expenses and lost wages. Stricter versions disallow certain pain-and-suffering lawsuits.


Means only that a company does not want to offer the driver a policy any longer, possibly because of the driving or claims record over the last three to five years. More than likely, other insurers will provide insurance at a higher price.

Open pilot clause

Minimum competency required by an aviation policy for a pilot to be covered under the policy.


A specific cause of loss, such as fire or vandalism. There are 17 named perils in most homeowner's policies.

Personal injury protection (PIP)

Auto insurance required in many no-fault states, which pays extensive medical expenses, lost wages, and a small death benefit for the driver and all passengers. PIP usually comes with a 20 percent deductible.

Personal liability insurance

The part of a homeowner's policy that covers the insured from legal expenses and claims for compensation should the insured accidentally injure others or damage their property.

Personal property

In regards to homeowner's insurance, the possessions of the insured.

Personal watercraft

A small but powerful motorized watercraft sold under brand names such as Jet Ski or Wave Runner. Distinct from a boat or yacht.


Person who buys and maintains an insurance policy; also called the "insured".


Payment required to initiate and continue an insurance policy.

Property and indemnity coverage

Common name for liability portion of a yacht insurance policy.

Property damage liability coverage

Pays for damages to the property of others caused by the policyholder in his or her vehicle.

Rent-loss provision

Portion of a policy that would reimburse an owner for rent that is lost while repairs are being made to rental property.

Rental reimbursement coverage

Pays a set amount per day for transportation expenses or car rental while the insured’s car is being repaired due to a covered loss.

Renter's insurance

Policies available to those who rent a dwelling; usually covers personal possessions and liability, but not the dwelling itself.

Replacement cost

The cost of replacing a lost or destroyed item; does not factor in depreciation or market value.


A provision attached to a policy that adds or changes coverage.


Potential for loss or injury.

Special flood hazard areas (SFHA)

A categorization of the different risk areas associated with floods, used in determining premiums for flood insurance. “V” is the most hazardous.

Third-party claim

Claim made to an insurance company for damage or injury caused by one of its policyholders.

Total, totaled

Classification for a vehicle in need of repairs that will cost more than the vehicle’s actual value.

Towing and labor coverage

Provides emergency road service and pays for towing charges. This coverage is not limited just to accidents, but can be used any time the insured’s car breaks down.

Umbrella liability policy

An extra protection against liability that covers the amount above the maximum limits of homeowner's and auto policies.

Unearned premium

Portion of a premium that may be returned to the policyholder if a claim resulting in a total loss takes place before the end of the policy term and eliminates the need for continued coverage.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage

Covers the costs associated with damage or injury caused by an uninsured, underinsured, or hit-and-run driver.


Typically, a recreational watercraft that is 26 feet or more in length; distinct from a boat or a personal watercraft.