How to Read Any Insurance Policy: 12 Rules

By | January 5, 2015

Rarely do any insurance practitioners, even hard core ones, undertake to read an entire policy. Generally, they are seeking a specific answer or researching a problem, undertakings that require them to review only individual parts of the coverage form and/or its applicable endorsements to determine the required answer or opinion.

Whether reading an entire policy or only sections, 12 specific “rules” can be applied in reading the policy form to make finding the needed answer easier and quicker. These are not shortcuts to reading the policy, as there is no shortcut to reading any legal document, just pointers towards correct policy interpretation and application.

12 Rules for Reading an Insurance Policy

  1. Ascertain who qualifies as an insured.
  2. Annotate the policy form.
  3. Confirm all forms and endorsements are attached.
  4. Read the Insuring Agreement first.
  5. Read the exclusions.
  6. Read the exceptions to the exclusions.
  7. When the policy refers to another section, read that section immediately.
  8. Pay attention to the conjunctions used in a list.
  9. Pay attention to key words and phrases.
  10. Read and understand the definitions of specifically defined terms.
  11. Understand and make sure all the policy conditions have been met.
  12. Confirm the coverage limits are adequate for the loss.

This week, the Academy of Insurance hosts a webinar explaining each of these rules and detailing several of them. In addition to these rules, the webinar will explore why exclusions exist and the various classes of exclusions found in most property/casualty insurance policies.

Source: Insurance Journal Academy of Insurance

About Christopher J. Boggs

Boggs, CPCU, ARM, ALCM, LPCS, AAI, APA, CWCA, CRIS, AINS, is a veteran insurance educator. He is Executive Director, Big I Virtual University of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America. He can be reached at chris.boggs@iiaba.net. More from Christopher J. Boggs

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