Car Insurance Terms and Glossary

No car insurance resource would be complete without a comprehensive glossary of car insurance terms. We’ve compiled a list of terms and their definitions to better help you navigate the sometimes confusing world of insurance

Accident – This is an unexpected sudden event that causes property damage to an automobile or bodily injury to a person. The event may be an at-fault or not-at fault and it may be report or unreported. An accident involving two vehicles may be termed a collision.

Accident report form – This is the report filed by police, often called the police report, containing the important information regarding the vehicle collision. This report will include the names of all individuals involved, vehicles involved, property damaged and citations that were issued.

Adjuster – This is the person who will evaluate the actual loss reported on the policy after an accident or other incident. They will make the determination on how much will be paid on the auto insurance policy by the Insurer.

Agent – This is a licensed and trained individual who is authorized to sell and to service insurance policies for the auto insurance company.

At Fault – This is the amount that you, the policy holder, contributed or caused the auto collision. This determines which insurance agency pays which portion of the losses.

Auto Insurance Score – This is a score similar to credit score that evaluates the information in your consumer credit report. These scores are used when determining pricing for your auto insurance policy. Negative marks on your credit report can increase your auto insurance premiums. The use of this information to determine policy pricing does vary from state to state.

Automobile Insurance – This is a type of insurance policy that covers and protect against losses involving automobiles. Auto Insurance policies include a wide range of coverage’s depending on the policy holders needs. Liability for property damage and bodily injury, uninsured motorist, medical payments, comprehensive, and collision are some of the common coverage’s offered under an auto insurance policy.

Binder – This is a temporary short-term policy agreement put in place while a formal permanent policy is put into place or delivered.

Bodily Injury Liability – This is the section of an insurance policy that covers the cost to anyone you may injure. It can include lost wages and medical expenses.

Broker – This is a licensed individual who on your behalf sells and services various insurance policies.

Claim – This is a formal notice made to your insurance company that a loss has occurred which may be covered under the terms of the auto insurance policy.

Claims Adjuster – This person employed by the insurance agency will investigate and settle all claims and losses. A representative for the insurance agency to verify and ensure all parties involved with the loss, get compensated fairly and correctly.

Collision – The portion of the insurance policy that covers damage to your vehicle from hitting another object. Objects can include but are not limited to; another vehicle, a building, curbs, guard rail, tree, telephone pole or fence. A deductible will apply. Your insurance company will go after the other parties insurance policy for these cost should they be at fault.

Commission – This is the portion of the auto insurance policy that is paid to the insurance agent for selling and servicing the policy on behalf of the company.

Comprehensive – This is a portion of the insurance policy that covers loss caused by anything other than a collision or running into another object. A deductible will apply. This includes but is not limited to vandalism, storm damage, fire, theft, etc.

Covered loss – This is the damage to yourself, other people or property or your vehicle that is covered under the auto insurance policy.

Declarations Page – This is the part of the insurance policy that includes the entire legal name of your insurance company, your full legal name, complete car information including vehicle identification numbers or VIN, policy information, policy number, deductible amounts. This page is usually the front page of the insurance policy.

Deductible Amount – This is the portion of the auto insurance policy that is the amount the policy holder must pay up front before the Insurance Company contributes and is required to pay any benefits. This amount can be within a wide range in price and varies from approximately $100 – $1000. The larger amount you pay in a deductible the lower your normal monthly/yearly policy will cost. This is the portion of the auto insurance policy that would be applicable only to comprehensive or collision coverage.

Discount – This is a reduction in the overall cost of your insurance policy. Deductions can be given for a variety of different reasons including a good driving record, grades, age, marital status, specific features and safety equipment on the automobile.

Emergency Road Service – This is the part of an auto insurance policy that covers the cost of emergency services such as flat tires, keys locked in the car and towing services.

Endorsement – This is any written change that is made to the auto insurance policy that is adding or removing coverage on the policy.

Exclusion – This is the portion of the auto Insurance policy that includes any provision including people, places or things that are not covered under the insurance policy.

First Party – This is the policyholder, the insured in an insurance policy.

Gap Insurance – This is a type of auto insurance provided to people who lease or own a vehicle that is worth less than the amount of the loan. Gap auto Insurance will cover the amount between the actual cash value of the vehicle and the amount left on loan should the care be stolen or destroyed.

High-Risk Driver – If you have a variety of negative marks on your insurance record including driving under the Influences, several traffic violations, etc. you may be labeled as a risk to the insurance company. This will increase your insurance policy or may make you ineligible for coverage.

Insured – The policyholder (s) who are covered by the policy benefits in case of a loss or accident.

Insurer – Is the Auto Insurance company who promises to pay the policy holder in case of loss or accident.

Liability insurance – This part of an auto insurance policy which legally covers the damage and injuries you cause to other drivers and their vehicles when you are at fault in an accident. If you are sued and taken to court, liability coverage will apply to your legal costs that you incur. Most states will require drivers to carry some variation of liability coverage Insurance and this amount will vary state by state.

Limits – This is the portion of the auto insurance policy that explains and lists the monetary limits the insurance company will pay out. In the situation you reach these limits the policy holder will be responsible for all other expenses.

Medical Payments Coverage – This is the portion of an auto insurance policy that pays for medical expenses and lost wages to you and any passengers in your vehicle after an accident. It is also known as personal injury protection or PIP.

Motor Vehicle Report – The motor vehicle report or MVR is a record issued by the state in which the policy holder resides in that will list the licensing status, any traffic violations, various suspensions and./ or refractions on your record. This is one of the tools used in determining the premium prices offered by the insurance agency. This is also used to determine the probability of you having a claim during your policy period.

No-Fault Insurance – If you reside within a state with no-fault insurance laws and regulations, your auto insurance policy pays for your injuries no matter who caused the accident. No-fault insurance states include; Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington, DC..

Non-Renewal – This is the termination of an auto insurance policy on the given expiration date. All coverage will cease as of this date and insurer will be released of promised coverage.

Personal Property Liability – This is the portion of the auto insurance policy that covers any damage or loss you cause to another person’s personal property.

Personal Injury Protection or PIP – This portion of an auto insurance policy pays for any lost wages or medical expenses to you and any passengers in your vehicle following an accident. PIP is also known as medical payments coverage.

Premium – This is the amount charged to you monthly, yearly or any other duration agreed upon by insurance company and policy holder and paid directly to the auto insurance company. A premium is based on the type and amount of coverage you choose for your vehicle(s) and yourself. Other factors that will affect your insurance premium prices include your age, marital status, you’re driving and credit report, the type of car you drive and whether you live in an urban or rural area. Premiums vary by insurance company and the location you live.

Quotation – This is the amount or estimated amount the insurance will cost based on the information provided to the agent, broker or auto insurance company.

Rescission.- This is the cancellation of the insurance policy dated back to its effective date. This would result in the full premium that was charged being returned.

Rental Reimbursement – This is the portion of the auto insurance policy that covers the cost of an automobile rental of similar size should the covered vehicle be in repair from a reported incident.

Replacement Cost – This is the amount of money it would cost to replace a lost or damaged item at it is actually new replacement value. This monetary amount would be based on a new identical item in the current local market.

Salvage – This is the auto insurance policy holders property that is turned over tot eh insurance agency in a loss final settlement. Insurance companies will sell the salvage property in hopes to recoup some of its monetary loss due to the loss and settlement.

Second Party – this is the actual insurance company in the auto insurance policy.

Surcharge – This is the amount added to your auto insurance policy premium after a traffic violation or an accident in which you were found to be at fault.

Third Party – This is another person other than the policy holder and auto insurance company who has faced a loss and may be able to collect and be compensated on behalf of the policy holder’s negligence.

Total Loss – This is complete destruction to the insured property of a policy holder. It has been determined that it would be a great sum of money to repair the item rather than replace the insured piece of property to its state prior to the loss.

Towing Coverage – This is the portion of the auto insurance policy that covers a specified amount for towing services and related labor costs.

Under insured Driver – This is the portion of an auto insurance policy which covers injuries to you caused by a driver without enough insurance to pay for the medical expenses you have incurred from the accident. This is portion of the policy can vary state by state as some states include damage to the car in this section.

Uninsured Driver or Motorist – This is the portion of the auto insurance policy which covers injuries to you caused by a driver who was without liability insurance at the time of the accident. Uninsured driver or motorist coverage comes in two different sections; uninsured motorist bodily injury and uninsured motorist property damage. Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage covers the injuries to you or any passenger in your vehicle when there is an accident with an uninsured driver. Uninsured motorist property damage coverage covers the cost for the property damage to your vehicle when there is an accident with an identified uninsured driver. Uninsured driver or motorist coverage must be offered when you purchase the required liability coverage for your vehicle. You must sign a declination waiver if you decline Uninsured driver or motorist coverage. The majority of states require drivers to carry some form of uninsured motorist coverage. Some states include damages to your car in this coverage.

Vehicle Identification Number or VIN – A VIN is a 17 letter and number combination that is the identification of the specific vehicle. It will identify the make, modem and year of the automobile. This number is typically located on the driver’s side window on the dash. It can also be found on the vehicles registration and title.

A Brief Introduction to Captive Insurance

Over the past 20 years, many small businesses have begun to insure their own risks through a product called “Captive Insurance.” Small captives (also known as single-parent captives) are insurance companies established by the owners of closely held businesses looking to insure risks that are either too costly or too difficult to insure through the traditional insurance marketplace. Brad Barros, an expert in the field of captive insurance, explains how “all captives are treated as corporations and must be managed in a method consistent with rules established with both the IRS and the appropriate insurance regulator.”

According to Barros, often single parent captives are owned by a trust, partnership or other structure established by the premium payer or his family. When properly designed and administered, a business can make tax-deductible premium payments to their related-party insurance company. Depending on circumstances, underwriting profits, if any, can be paid out to the owners as dividends, and profits from liquidation of the company may be taxed at capital gains.

Premium payers and their captives may garner tax benefits only when the captive operates as a real insurance company. Alternatively, advisers and business owners who use captives as estate planning tools, asset protection vehicles, tax deferral or other benefits not related to the true business purpose of an insurance company may face grave regulatory and tax consequences.

Many captive insurance companies are often formed by US businesses in jurisdictions outside of the United States. The reason for this is that foreign jurisdictions offer lower costs and greater flexibility than their US counterparts. As a rule, US businesses can use foreign-based insurance companies so long as the jurisdiction meets the insurance regulatory standards required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

There are several notable foreign jurisdictions whose insurance regulations are recognized as safe and effective. These include Bermuda and St. Lucia. Bermuda, while more expensive than other jurisdictions, is home to many of the largest insurance companies in the world. St. Lucia, a more reasonably priced location for smaller captives, is noteworthy for statutes that are both progressive and compliant. St. Lucia is also acclaimed for recently passing “Incorporated Cell” legislation, modeled after similar statutes in Washington, DC.

Common Captive Insurance Abuses; While captives remain highly beneficial to many businesses, some industry professionals have begun to improperly market and misuse these structures for purposes other than those intended by Congress. The abuses include the following:

1. Improper risk shifting and risk distribution, aka “Bogus Risk Pools”

2. High deductibles in captive-pooled arrangements; Re insuring captives through private placement variable life insurance schemes

3. Improper marketing

4. Inappropriate life insurance integration

Meeting the high standards imposed by the IRS and local insurance regulators can be a complex and expensive proposition and should only be done with the assistance of competent and experienced counsel. The ramifications of failing to be an insurance company can be devastating and may include the following penalties:

1. Loss of all deductions on premiums received by the insurance company

2. Loss of all deductions from the premium payer

3. Forced distribution or liquidation of all assets from the insurance company effectuating additional taxes for capital gains or dividends

4. Potential adverse tax treatment as a Controlled Foreign Corporation

5. Potential adverse tax treatment as a Personal Foreign Holding Company (PFHC)

6. Potential regulatory penalties imposed by the insuring jurisdiction

7. Potential penalties and interest imposed by the IRS.

All in all, the tax consequences may be greater than 100% of the premiums paid to the captive. In addition, attorneys, CPA’s wealth advisors and their clients may be treated as tax shelter promoters by the IRS, causing fines as great as $100,000 or more per transaction.

Clearly, establishing a captive insurance company is not something that should be taken lightly. It is critical that businesses seeking to establish a captive work with competent attorneys and accountants who have the requisite knowledge and experience necessary to avoid the pitfalls associated with abusive or poorly designed insurance structures. A general rule of thumb is that a captive insurance product should have a legal opinion covering the essential elements of the program. It is well recognized that the opinion should be provided by an independent, regional or national law firm.

Risk Shifting and Risk Distribution Abuses; Two key elements of insurance are those of shifting risk from the insured party to others (risk shifting) and subsequently allocating risk amongst a large pool of insured’s (risk distribution). After many years of litigation, in 2005 the IRS released a Revenue Ruling (2005-40) describing the essential elements required in order to meet risk shifting and distribution requirements.

For those who are self-insured, the use of the captive structure approved in Rev. Ruling 2005-40 has two advantages. First, the parent does not have to share risks with any other parties. In Ruling 2005-40, the IRS announced that the risks can be shared within the same economic family as long as the separate subsidiary companies ( a minimum of 7 are required) are formed for non-tax business reasons, and that the separateness of these subsidiaries also has a business reason. Furthermore, “risk distribution” is afforded so long as no insured subsidiary has provided more than 15% or less than 5% of the premiums held by the captive. Second, the special provisions of insurance law allowing captives to take a current deduction for an estimate of future losses, and in some circumstances shelter the income earned on the investment of the reserves, reduces the cash flow needed to fund future claims from about 25% to nearly 50%. In other words, a well-designed captive that meets the requirements of 2005-40 can bring about a cost savings of 25% or more.

While some businesses can meet the requirements of 2005-40 within their own pool of related entities, most privately held companies cannot. Therefore, it is common for captives to purchase “third party risk” from other insurance companies, often spending 4% to 8% per year on the amount of coverage necessary to meet the IRS requirements.

One of the essential elements of the purchased risk is that there is a reasonable likelihood of loss. Because of this exposure, some promoters have attempted to circumvent the intention of Revenue Ruling 2005-40 by directing their clients into “bogus risk pools.” In this somewhat common scenario, an attorney or other promoter will have 10 or more of their clients’ captives enter into a collective risk-sharing agreement. Included in the agreement is a written or unwritten agreement not to make claims on the pool. The clients like this arrangement because they get all of the tax benefits of owning a captive insurance company without the risk associated with insurance. Unfortunately for these businesses, the IRS views these types of arrangements as something other than insurance.

Risk sharing agreements such as these are considered without merit and should be avoided at all costs. They amount to nothing more than a glorified pretax savings account. If it can be shown that a risk pool is bogus, the protective tax status of the captive can be denied and the severe tax ramifications described above will be enforced.

It is well known that the IRS looks at arrangements between owners of captives with great suspicion. The gold standard in the industry is to purchase third party risk from an insurance company. Anything less opens the door to potentially catastrophic consequences.

Abusively High Deductibles; Some promoters sell captives, and then have their captives participate in a large risk pool with a high deductible. Most losses fall within the deductible and are paid by the captive, not the risk pool.

These promoters may advise their clients that since the deductible is so high, there is no real likelihood of third party claims. The problem with this type of arrangement is that the deductible is so high that the captive fails to meet the standards set forth by the IRS. The captive looks more like a sophisticated pre tax savings account: not an insurance company.

A separate concern is that the clients may be advised that they can deduct all their premiums paid into the risk pool. In the case where the risk pool has few or no claims (compared to the losses retained by the participating captives using a high deductible), the premiums allocated to the risk pool are simply too high. If claims don’t occur, then premiums should be reduced. In this scenario, if challenged, the IRS will disallow the deduction made by the captive for unnecessary premiums ceded to the risk pool. The IRS may also treat the captive as something other than an insurance company because it did not meet the standards set forth in 2005-40 and previous related rulings.

Private Placement Variable Life Reinsurance Schemes; Over the years promoters have attempted to create captive solutions designed to provide abusive tax free benefits or “exit strategies” from captives. One of the more popular schemes is where a business establishes or works with a captive insurance company, and then remits to a Reinsurance Company that portion of the premium commensurate with the portion of the risk re-insured.

Typically, the Reinsurance Company is wholly-owned by a foreign life insurance company. The legal owner of the reinsurance cell is a foreign property and casualty insurance company that is not subject to U.S. income taxation. Practically, ownership of the Reinsurance Company can be traced to the cash value of a life insurance policy a foreign life insurance company issued to the principal owner of the Business, or a related party, and which insures the principle owner or a related party.

1. The IRS may apply the sham-transaction doctrine.

2. The IRS may challenge the use of a reinsurance agreement as an improper attempt to divert income from a taxable entity to a tax-exempt entity and will reallocate income.

3. The life insurance policy issued to the Company may not qualify as life insurance for U.S. Federal income tax purposes because it violates the investor control restrictions.

Investor Control; The IRS has reiterated in its published revenue rulings, its private letter rulings, and its other administrative pronouncements, that the owner of a life insurance policy will be considered the income tax owner of the assets legally owned by the life insurance policy if the policy owner possesses “incidents of ownership” in those assets. Generally, in order for the life insurance company to be considered the owner of the assets in a separate account, control over individual investment decisions must not be in the hands of the policy owner.

The IRS prohibits the policy owner, or a party related to the policy holder, from having any right, either directly or indirectly, to require the insurance company, or the separate account, to acquire any particular asset with the funds in the separate account. In effect, the policy owner cannot tell the life insurance company what particular assets to invest in. And, the IRS has announced that there cannot be any prearranged plan or oral understanding as to what specific assets can be invested in by the separate account (commonly referred to as “indirect investor control”). And, in a continuing series of private letter rulings, the IRS consistently applies a look-through approach with respect to investments made by separate accounts of life insurance policies to find indirect investor control. Recently, the IRS issued published guidelines on when the investor control restriction is violated. This guidance discusses reasonable and unreasonable levels of policy owner participation, thereby establishing safe harbors and impermissible levels of investor control.

The ultimate factual determination is straight-forward. Any court will ask whether there was an understanding, be it orally communicated or tacitly understood, that the separate account of the life insurance policy will invest its funds in a reinsurance company that issued reinsurance for a property and casualty policy that insured the risks of a business where the life insurance policy owner and the person insured under the life insurance policy are related to or are the same person as the owner of the business deducting the payment of the property and casualty insurance premiums?

If this can be answered in the affirmative, then the IRS should be able to successfully convince the Tax Court that the investor control restriction is violated. It then follows that the income earned by the life insurance policy is taxable to the life insurance policy owner as it is earned.

The investor control restriction is violated in the structure described above as these schemes generally provide that the Reinsurance Company will be owned by the segregated account of a life insurance policy insuring the life of the owner of the Business of a person related to the owner of the Business. If one draws a circle, all of the monies paid as premiums by the Business cannot become available for unrelated, third-parties. Therefore, any court looking at this structure could easily conclude that each step in the structure was prearranged, and that the investor control restriction is violated.

Suffice it to say that the IRS announced in Notice 2002-70, 2002-2 C.B. 765, that it would apply both the sham transaction doctrine and ยงยง 482 or 845 to reallocate income from a non-taxable entity to a taxable entity to situations involving property and casualty reinsurance arrangements similar to the described reinsurance structure.

Even if the property and casualty premiums are reasonable and satisfy the risk sharing and risk distribution requirements so that the payment of these premiums is deductible in full for U.S. income tax purposes, the ability of the Business to currently deduct its premium payments on its U.S. income tax returns is entirely separate from the question of whether the life insurance policy qualifies as life insurance for U.S. income tax purposes.

Inappropriate Marketing; One of the ways in which captives are sold is through aggressive marketing designed to highlight benefits other than real business purpose. Captives are corporations. As such, they can offer valuable planning opportunities to shareholders. However, any potential benefits, including asset protection, estate planning, tax advantaged investing, etc., must be secondary to the real business purpose of the insurance company.

Recently, a large regional bank began offering “business and estate planning captives” to customers of their trust department. Again, a rule of thumb with captives is that they must operate as real insurance companies. Real insurance companies sell insurance, not “estate planning” benefits. The IRS may use abusive sales promotion materials from a promoter to deny the compliance and subsequent deductions related to a captive. Given the substantial risks associated with improper promotion, a safe bet is to only work with captive promoters whose sales materials focus on captive insurance company ownership; not estate, asset protection and investment planning benefits. Better still would be for a promoter to have a large and independent regional or national law firm review their materials for compliance and confirm in writing that the materials meet the standards set forth by the IRS.

The IRS can look back several years to abusive materials, and then suspecting that a promoter is marketing an abusive tax shelter, begin a costly and potentially devastating examination of the insured’s and marketers.

Abusive Life Insurance Arrangements; A recent concern is the integration of small captives with life insurance policies. Small captives treated under section 831(b) have no statutory authority to deduct life premiums. Also, if a small captive uses life insurance as an investment, the cash value of the life policy can be taxable to the captive, and then be taxable again when distributed to the ultimate beneficial owner. The consequence of this double taxation is to devastate the efficacy of the life insurance and, it extends serious levels of liability to any accountant recommends the plan or even signs the tax return of the business that pays premiums to the captive.

The IRS is aware that several large insurance companies are promoting their life insurance policies as investments with small captives. The outcome looks eerily like that of the thousands of 419 and 412(I) plans that are currently under audit.

All in all Captive insurance arrangements can be tremendously beneficial. Unlike in the past, there are now clear rules and case histories defining what constitutes a properly designed, marketed and managed insurance company. Unfortunately, some promoters abuse, bend and twist the rules in order to sell more captives. Often, the business owner who is purchasing a captive is unaware of the enormous risk he or she faces because the promoter acted improperly. Sadly, it is the insured and the beneficial owner of the captive who face painful consequences when their insurance company is deemed to be abusive or non-compliant. The captive industry has skilled professionals providing compliant services. Better to use an expert supported by a major law firm than a slick promoter who sells something that sounds too good to be true.

A Beginner’s Guide to Insurance

Having the right kind of insurance is central to sound financial planning. Some of us may have some form of insurance but very few really understand what it is or why one must have it. For most Indians insurance is a form of investment or a superb tax saving avenue. Ask an average person about his/her investments and they will proudly mention an insurance product as part of their core investments. Of the approximately 5% of Indians that are insured the proportion of those adequately insured is much lower. Very few of the insured view insurance as purely that. There is perhaps no other financial product that has witnessed such rampant mis-selling at the hands of agents who are over enthusiastic in selling products linking insurance to investment earning them fat commissions.

What is Insurance?

Insurance is a way of spreading out significant financial risk of a person or business entity to a large group of individuals or business entities in the occurrence of an unfortunate event that is predefined. The cost of being insured is the monthly or annual compensation paid to the insurance company. In the purest form of insurance if the predefined event does not occur until the period specified the money paid as compensation is not retrieved. Insurance is effectively a means of spreading risk among a pool of people who are insured and lighten their financial burden in the event of a shock.

Insured and Insurer

When you seek protection against financial risk and make a contract with an insurance provider you become the insured and the insurance company becomes your insurer.

Sum assured

In Life Insurance this is the amount of money the insurer promises to pay when the insured dies before the predefined time. This does not include bonuses added in case of non-term insurance. In non-life insurance this guaranteed amount may be called as Insurance Cover.

Premium

For the protection against financial risk an insurer provides, the insured must pay compensation. This is known as premium. They may be paid annually, quarterly, monthly or as decided in the contract. Total amount of premiums paid is several times lesser than the insurance cover or it wouldn’t make much sense to seek insurance at all. Factors that determine premium are the cover, number of years for which insurance is sought, age of the insured (individual, vehicle, etc), to name a few.

Nominee

The beneficiary who is specified by the insured to receive the sum assured and other benefits, if any is the nominee. In case of life insurance it must be another person apart from the insured.

Policy Term

The number of years you want protection for is the term of policy. Term is decided by the insured at the time of purchasing the insurance policy.

Rider

Certain insurance policies may offer additional features as add-ons apart from the actual cover. These can be availed by paying extra premiums. If those features were to be bought separately they would be more expensive. For instance you could add on a personal accident rider with your life insurance.

Surrender Value and Paid-up Value

If you want to exit a policy before its term ends you can discontinue it and take back your money. The amount the insurer will pay you in this instance is called the surrender value. The policy ceases to exist. Instead if you just stop paying the premiums mid way but do not withdraw money the amount is called as paid-up. At the term’s end the insurer pays you in proportion of the paid-up value.

Now that you know the terms this is how insurance works in plain words. An insurance company pools premiums from a large group of people who want to insure against a certain kind of loss. With the help of its actuaries the company comes up with statistical analysis of the probability of actual loss happening in a certain number of people and fixes premiums taking into account other factors as mentioned earlier. It works on the fact that not all insured will suffer loss at the same time and many may not suffer the loss at all within the time of contract.

Types of Insurance

Potentially any risk that can be quantified in terms of money can be insured. To protect loved ones from loss of income due to immature death one can have a life insurance policy. To protect yourself and your family against unforeseen medical expenses you can opt for a Mediclaim policy. To protect your vehicle against robbery or damage in accidents you can have a motor insurance policy. To protect your home against theft, damage due to fire, flood and other perils you can choose a home insurance.

Most popular insurance forms in India are life insurance, health insurance and motor insurance. Apart from these there are other forms as well which are discussed in brief in the following paragraphs. The insurance sector is regulated and monitored by IRDA (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority).

Life Insurance

This form of insurance provides cover against financial risk in the event of premature death of the insured. There are 24 life insurance companies playing in this arena of which Life Insurance Corporation of India is a public sector company. There are several forms of life insurance policies the simplest form of which is term plan. The other complex policies are endowment plan, whole life plan, money back plan, ULIPs and annuities.

General Insurance

All other insurance policies besides Life Insurance fall under General Insurance. There are 24 general insurance companies in India of which 4 namely National Insurance Company Ltd, New India Assurance Company Ltd, Oriental Insurance Company Ltd and United India Insurance Company Ltd are in the public sector domain.

The biggest pie of non-life insurance in terms of premiums underwritten is shared by motor insurance followed by engineering insurance and health insurance. Other forms of insurance offered by companies in India are home insurance, travel insurance, personal accident insurance, and business insurance.

Buying Insurance

There are an umpteen number of policies to choose from. Because we cannot foresee our future and stop unpleasant things from happening, having an insurance cover is a necessity. But you need to choose carefully. Don’t simply go with what the agent tells you. Read policy documents to know what is covered, what features are offered and what events are excluded from being insured.

1. Know your Needs

Determine what asset or incident must be protected against loss/damage. Is it you life, health, vehicle, home? Next determine what kinds of damage or danger exactly would the assets be most probably be exposed to. This will tell you what features you should be looking for in a policy. Of course there will be losses which cannot be foreseen and the cost of dealing with them can be very high. For instance nobody can predict that they’ll never suffer from critical illnesses no matter if they’re perfectly healthy at present.

The biggest mistake while it comes to buying insurance, particularly life insurance is to view it as an investment. Clubbing insurance and investment in a single product is a poor idea. You lose out on both fronts because for the premiums you’re paying more cover could’ve been got in a term plan and if the premiums were invested in better instruments your returns could’ve been several times more.

Be wary of agents who want to talk you into buying unnecessary policies like child life insurance, credit card insurance, unemployment insurance and so on. Instead of buying separate insurance for specific assets or incidents look for policies that cover a host of possible events under the same cover. Whenever possible choose riders that make sense instead of buying them separately. Unless there is a fair chance of an event happening you do not need insurance for it. For instance unless you are very prone to accidents and disability due to your nature of work or other reasons you do not need an Accident Insurance policy. A good Life Insurance policy with accidental death rider or waiver of premium rider or a disability income rider will do the job.

2. Understand Product Features and Charges

The worst way of choosing an insurance product or insurer is to blindly follow the recommendation of an agent or a friend. The good way to do it is to shop around for products that suit your need and filter out the ones offering lower premiums for similar terms like age, amount of cover, etc. All details you need about the product features and charges will be provided on the company’s website. Many insurance policies can now be bought online. Buying online is smarter because premiums are lower due to elimination of agent fees. If buying offline in case of life insurance, tell the agent that you’re interested only in term insurance.

Before you sign on the contract make sure you have understood what items are covered and what items are exempted from the cover. It would be so devastating to learn in the event of damage or loss that the item you hoped to cover with the insurance was actually excluded. So many people rush to their insurers after being treated for diseases only to realize that the particular disease was excluded. Understand details like when the cover begins and ends and how claims can be filed and losses be reported.

Don’t choose an insurance company because your neighbourhood friend is their agent and never let them coax you into buying from them. Insurance premiums run for years and it means a sizeable amount of money. Apart from the premiums charged look for the service provided. When you are faced with a peril you want the claims collection processed to be complicated with non-cooperating staff in the insurance company’s office. Seek answers from people who have had previous experience with the company for questions like how customer friendly and responsive the company is when it comes to handling claims.

3. Evaluate and Upgrade in Time

As you walk from one life stage to another or when the asset insured changes your policies must be reviewed. Perhaps your cover will need to be increased (or decreased) or you’ll need to top it up with a rider. Some instances when you need to review your cover are when you getting married, when you have children, when your income increases your decreases substantially, when you’re buying a house/car and when you’re responsible for your ageing parents.

Over 40 Ways to Decrease Your Auto Insurance Costs

There are multiple articles titled “7 ways to save on car insurance” or “5 Tips to lower your auto insurance costs” etc, but would it not be great to have all those saving tricks and discounts at one place? Below you will find such a list for Auto insurance. This list is a comprehensive overview of all opportunities to save on car insurance in Canada, and was compiled based on the results of numerous discussions with insurance brokers and through analyses of different insurance offerings.

1. Shop around: Search, Compare, and switch insurance companies. There are many insurance providers and their price offerings for the same policies can be very different, therefore use multiple online tools and talk to several brokers since each will cover a limited number of insurance companies.

2. Bundle: Do you need Home and Auto Insurance? Most companies will offer you a discount if you bundle them together.

3. Professional Membership: Are you a member of a professional organization (e.g. Certified Management Accountants of Canada or The Air Canada Pilots Association)? Then some insurance companies offer you a discount.

4. Students: Being a student alone can result in a student discount.

5. Alumni: Graduates from certain Canadian universities ( e.g University of Toronto, McGill University) might be eligible for a discount at certain Insurance providers.

6. Employee / Union members: Some companies offer discounts to union members.

7. Seniors: Many companies offer special pricing to seniors.

8. Direct insurers: Have you always dealt with insurance brokers / agents? Getting a policy from a direct insurer (i.e. insurers working via call-center or online) often can be cheaper (but not always) since they do not pay an agent/broker commission for each policy sold.

9. Annual vs. monthly payments: In comparison to monthly payments, annual payments save insurers administrative costs (e.g. sending bills) and therefore they reward you lower premiums.

10. Loyalty: Staying with one insurer longer can sometimes result in a long-term policy holder discount.

11. Annual review: Review your policies and coverage every year, since new discounts could apply to your new life situation if it has changed.

12. Welcome discount: Some insurers offer a so called welcome discount.

13. Benchmark your costs: Knowing how much other consumers similar to you pay for their insurance can help you identify the most cost-friendly insurance providers.

14. Car Insurance Deductibles: Increase your car insurance deductibles if you believe that you are capable of incurring higher payments for damages in case of an accident. This is especially suited for more experienced car drivers.

15. Being a second driver: Driving a car only occasionally? Become a second drive instead of being a principal driver

16. Minimal coverage: Driving an old car without large value? Get a minimal coverage required by law (mainly liability) w/o collision damage (you are still protected if you damage somebody’s car but damages on your car will not be covered)

17. Minimal Coverage: Driving an old, inexpensive car? Then only get a minimal coverage plan which is required by the law (mainly liability) without collision damage coverage (does not cover damage costs for your vehicle)

18. Leverage your Credit Card: Check if your credit card insurance includes rental car protection. Paying with a card that has insurance for rental car protection can you save you around $20 per day in Collision Damage Waiver fees.

19. Leverage rental car coverage: If you frequently rent cars and have an auto insurance policy, you should check if your own auto insurance policy actually covers the rental car. If it is the case, you can save on all Collision Damage Waiver costs for rental vehicles.

20. Rental car rider: If your existing auto insurance policy does not cover your rental car, you can often add it as a rider (policy extension) for $20-30 dollars a year. Compared to $20/day you would pay when renting a car, it’s not a bad deal!

21. Location, location, location: Car insurance costs are different from one province to another (e.g. moving from Ontario to Quebec will surely reduce your insurance costs by half). If you move within a province, you should check for any changes in car insurance costs, and ideally you should move to where costs are lower (e.g. Burlington, Ontario has one of the highest car insurance rates in Ontario)

22. CAA member: CAA Members: Are you a member of the CAA? Some insurance providers will reward you with lower insurance premiums, including, of course, the CAA.

23. Dashboard camera: Get a dashboard camera for your vehicle. Even though installing a dashboard camera does not result in direct savings (insurance companies do not offer any insurance discount related to dashboard cameras) but it can prove you not-at-fault when it is the case in an accident. It results in you avoiding unfair premium raises.

24. Driving Course: Successfully completing a driving course is sometimes recognized by some insurance providers and could help you reduce your premiums.

25. Improving your driving record: Do you have a bad driving record? Every three years previously incurred tickets are removed from your insurance history and your insurance premiums can go down.

26. At-Fault Accidents: Have you been in a couple of accidents in the past where you were at fault? With a little patience (six years with no accidents), your risk profile will improve allowing you to once again enjoy reasonable insurance premium rates.

27. Age: Senior drivers enjoy lower auto insurance premiums. Thus in several years your premiums can go down.

28. Car Make and Model: Wisely choose your car, as some car models are more susceptible to theft or even have a history of more risky drivers (e.g. Toyota Camry, Acura MDX, Toyota RAV4, and Honda Civic are usually quite expensive to insure)

29. Good Student: Yes, having good grades can have many positive impacts, and even on your auto insurance rates! E.g. one insurance company rewards students who are younger than 25 and have good grades (grade average of B or higher) with a discount up to 25%.

30. Multiple-cars-bundle: Bundle several cars on one policy and your rate can go down

31. Anti-theft system: Installing a certified anti-theft system in your car results in a lower risk of theft and thus can lead to insurance discounts.

32. Winter Tires: Having winter tires is important for driving safety during the winter, but can also help reduce your insurance premiums.

33. Repair costs: Choose a car that would cost less to repair in case of damage. The repair costs for certain cars (e.g. Mini Cooper or BMW) are higher than other (e.g. Ford Focus) and insurance providers are aware of that.

34. Claim History: Keeping a clean claims history can sometimes be more financially feasible than submitting claims for small damage repairs which could result in increased premiums. Contacting an insurance provider/broker could help you find out what makes sense.

35. Being married: In most provinces your marital status affects your insurance premiums (except in Nova Scotia)

36. Short distance to work: Finding a house close to your place of work reduces the distance that you need drive daily to work and thus results in lower insurance premiums.

38. Drop glass coverage: For cars with inexpensive windshields, it can be more economical to drop the glass coverage since in combination with the deductibles to be paid in case of an accident you’d pay more. It is up to you to calculate.

39. Retiree Discounts: Some insurance companies will offer different retirement discounts for drivers.

40. Disabilities: Some companies offer discounts for people with disabilities.

41. Hybrid vehicles: Many companies award driving a hybrid vehicle with lower insurance premiums.

42. Private Garage: Parking your car in a safe location (e.g. private or secure garage) normally results in lower insurance premiums with auto insurance providers.