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The Many Different Types of Insurance Policies

Any risk that can be quantified can potentially be insured. Specific kinds of risk that may give rise to claims are known as"perils." An insurance policy will set out in detail which perils are covered by the policy and which are not.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the many different types of insurance that exist. A single policy may cover risks in one or more of the categories set forth below. For example, auto insurance would typically cover both property risk (covering the risk of theft or damage to the car) and liability risk (covering legal claims from causing an accident). A homeowner's insurance policy in the U.S. typically includes property insurance covering damage to the home and the owner's belongings, liability insurance covering certain legal claims against the owner, and even a small amount of health insurance for medical expenses of guests who are injured on the owner's property.

Business insurance can be any kind of insurance that protects businesses against risks. Some principal subtypes of business insurance are (a) the various kinds of professional liability insurance, also called professional indemnity insurance, which are discussed below under that name; and (b) the business owners policy (BOP), which bundles into one policy many of the kinds of coverage that a business owner needs, in a way analogous to how homeowners insurance bundles the coverages that a homeowner needs.


Property and Casualty Insurance

Property insurance provides protection against risks to property, such as fire, theft or weather damage. This includes specialized forms of insurance such as fire insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, home insurance, inland marine insurance or boiler insurance.

Casualty insurance insures against accidents, not necessarily tied to any specific property.

  • Automobile insurance, known in the UK as motor insurance, is probably the most common form of insurance and may cover both legal liability claims against the driver and loss of or damage to the insured's vehicle itself. Throughout the United States auto insurance policy is required to legally operate a motor vehicle on public roads. In some jurisdictions, bodily injury compensation for automobile accident victims has been changed to a no-fault system, which reduces or eliminates the ability to sue for compensation but provides automatic eligibility for benefits. Credit card companies insure against damage on rented cars.

  • Driving School Insurance insurance provides cover for any authorized driver whilst under going tuition, cover also unlike other motor policies provides cover for instructor liability where both the pupil and driving instructor are both equally liable in the event of a claim.

  • Aviation insurance insures against hull, spares, deductible, hull wear and liability risks.

  • Boiler insurance (also known as boiler and machinery insurance or equipment breakdown insurance) insures against accidental physical damage to equipment or machinery.

  • Builder's risk insurance insures against the risk of physical loss or damage to property during construction. Builder's risk insurance is typically written on an "all risk" basis covering damage due to any cause (including the negligence of the insured) not otherwise expressly excluded.

  • Crime insurance is a form of casualty insurance that covers the policyholder against losses arising from the criminal acts of third parties. For example, a company can obtain crime insurance to cover losses arising from theft or embezzlement.

  • Crop insurance "Farmers use crop insurance to reduce or manage various risks associated with growing crops. Such risks include crop loss or damage caused by weather, hail, drought, frost damage, insects, or disease, for instance."

  • Earthquake insurance is a form of property insurance that pays the policyholder in the event of an earthquake that causes damage to the property. Most ordinary homeowners insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage. Most earthquake insurance policies feature a high deductible. Rates depend on location and the probability of an earthquake, as well as the construction of the home.

  • A fidelity bond is a form of casualty insurance that covers policyholders for losses that they incur as a result of fraudulent acts by specified individuals. It usually insures a business for losses caused by the dishonest acts of its employees.

  • Flood insurance protects against property loss due to flooding. Many insurers in the US do not provide flood insurance in some portions of the country. In response to this, the federal government created the National Flood Insurance Program which serves as the insurer of last resort.

  • Marine insurance and marine cargo insurance cover the loss or damage of ships at sea or on inland waterways, and of the cargo that may be on them. When the owner of the cargo and the carrier are separate corporations, marine cargo insurance typically compensates the owner of cargo for losses sustained from fire, shipwreck, etc., but excludes losses that can be recovered from the carrier or the carrier's insurance. Many marine insurance underwriters will include "time element" coverage in such policies, which extends the indemnity to cover loss of profit and other business expenses attributable to the delay caused by a covered loss.

  • Political risk insurance is a form of casualty insurance that can be taken out by businesses with operations in countries in which there is a risk that revolution or other political conditions will result in a loss.

  • Surety bond insurance is a three party insurance guaranteeing the performance of the principal.

  • Terrorism insurance provides protection against any loss or damage caused by terrorist activities.

  • Volcano insurance is an insurance that covers volcano damage in Hawaii.

  • Windstorm insurance is an insurance covering the damage that can be caused by hurricanes and tropical cyclones.

Life and Annuity Insurance

  • Life insurance provides a monetary benefit to a decedent's family or other designated beneficiary, and may specifically provide for income to an insured person's family, burial, funeral and other final expenses. Life insurance policies often allow the option of having the proceeds paid to the beneficiary either in a lump sum cash payment or an annuity.

  • Annuities provide a stream of payments and are generally classified as insurance because they are issued by insurance companies and regulated as insurance and require the same kinds of actuarial and investment management expertise that life insurance requires. Annuities and pensions that pay a benefit for life are sometimes regarded as insurance against the possibility that a retiree will outlive his or her financial resources. In that sense, they are the complement of life insurance and, from an underwriting perspective, are the mirror image of life insurance.

Health Insurance

  • Health insurance policies will often cover the cost of private medical treatments if the National Health Service in the UK (NHS) or other publicly-funded health programs do not pay for them. It will often result in quicker health care where better facilities are available.

  • Dental insurance, like medical insurance, is coverage for individuals to protect them against dental costs. In the U.S., dental insurance is often part of an employer's benefits package, along with health insurance.

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Disability Insurance

  • Disability insurance policies provide financial support in the event the policyholder is unable to work because of disabling illness or injury. It provides monthly support to help pay such obligations as mortgages and credit cards.

  • Total permanent disability insurance provides benefits when a person is permanently disabled and can no longer work in their profession, often taken as an adjunct to life insurance.

  • Disability overhead insurance allows business owners to cover the overhead expenses of their business while they are unable to work.

  • Workers' compensation insurance replaces all or part of a worker's wages lost and accompanying medical expense incurred because of a job-related injury.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is a very broad superset that covers legal claims against the insured. Many types of insurance include an aspect of liability coverage. For example, a homeowner's insurance policy will normally include liability coverage which protects the insured in the event of a claim brought by someone who slips and falls on the property; automobile insurance also includes an aspect of liability insurance that indemnifies against the harm that a crashing car can cause to others' lives, health, or property. The protection offered by a liability insurance policy is twofold: a legal defense in the event of a lawsuit commenced against the policyholder and indemnification (payment on behalf of the insured) with respect to a settlement or court verdict. Liability policies typically cover only the negligence of the insured, and will not apply to results of willful or intentional acts by the insured.

  • Environmental liability insurance protects the insured from bodily injury, property damage and cleanup costs as a result of the dispersal, release or escape of pollutants.

  • Professional liability insurance, also called professional indemnity insurance, protects professional practitioners such as architects, lawyers, doctors, and accountants against potential negligence claims made by their patients/clients. Professional liability insurance may take on different names depending on the profession. For example, professional liability insurance in reference to the medical profession may be called malpractice insurance. Notaries public may take out errors and omissions insurance Other potential errors and omissions insurance policyholders include, for example, real estate brokers, home inspectors, appraisers, and website developers.

  • Directors and officers liability insurance protects an organization (usually a corporation) from costs associated with litigation resulting from mistakes incurred by directors and officers for which they are liable.

  • Prize indemnity insurance protects the insured from giving away a large prize at a specific event. Examples would include offering prizes to contestants who can make a half-court shot at a basketball game, or a hole-in-one at a golf tournament.

Credit Insurance

  • Credit insurance repays some or all of a loan back when certain things happen to the borrower such as unemployment, disability, or death. Mortgage insurance is a form of credit insurance, although the name credit insurance more often is used to refer to policies that cover other kinds of debt.

  • Mortgage insurance insures the lender against default by the borrower.

Other Types of Insurance

  • Defense Base Act Workers' compensation or DBA insurance provides coverage for civilian workers hired by the government to perform contracts outside the US and Canada. DBA is required for all US citizens, US residents, US Green Card holders, and all employees or subcontractors hired on overseas government contracts. Depending on the country, Foreign Nationals must also be covered under DBA. This coverage typically includes expenses related to medical treatment and loss of wages, as well as disability and death benefits.

  • Expatriate insurance provides individuals and organizations operating outside of their home country with protection for automobiles, property, health, liability and business pursuits.

  • Financial loss insurance protects individuals and companies against various financial risks. For example, a business might purchase cover to protect it from loss of sales if a fire in a factory prevented it from carrying out its business for a time. Insurance might also cover the failure of a creditor to pay money it owes to the insured. This type of insurance is frequently referred to as "business interruption insurance." Fidelity bonds and surety bonds are included in this category, although these products provide a benefit to a third party (the "obligee") in the event the insured party (usually referred to as the "obligor") fails to perform its obligations under a contract with the obligee.

  • Pet insurance insures pets against accidents and illnesses - some companies cover routine/wellness care and burial, as well.

  • Pollution Insurance. A first-party coverage for contamination of insured property either by external or on-site sources. Coverage for liability to third parties arising from contamination of air, water, or land due to the sudden and accidental release of hazardous materials from the insured site. The policy usually covers the costs of cleanup and may include coverage for releases from underground storage tanks. Intentional acts are specifically excluded.

  • Purchase insurance is aimed at providing protection on the products people purchase. Purchase insurance can cover individual purchase protection, warranties, guarantees, care plans and even mobile phone insurance. Such insurance is normally very limited in the scope of problems that are covered by the policy.

  • Title insurance provides a guarantee that title to real property is vested in the purchaser and/or mortgagee, free and clear of liens or encumbrances. It is usually issued in conjunction with a search of the public records performed at the time of a transaction.

  • Travel insurance is an insurance cover taken by those who travel abroad, which covers certain losses such as medical expenses, lost of personal belongings, travel delay, personal liabilities, etc.

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