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Insurance Glossary - Understanding Common Terms

Our glossary is divided alphabetically by insurance term in a quick reference guide to assist understanding the language commonly used by insurance companies. Policy documents contain a number of these terms because they typically define the limitations of risk and liability on the insured and any exclusions of coverage.

If you plan to start a new policy or renew your current policy with a different carrier or agency, it is important to review and understand the policy differences behind individual quotes from multiple carriers.  Lower policy premiums may be the result of decreased payout benefits, higher deductibles, or maximum damages allowed.  It is important to identify these unique features in any policy comparison, otherwise a lower price may come at a much higher cost when you have to file a claim for loss or damages in the future.

Select the first letter of the word or term to locate a definition and brief description.  For example, to get help with the terms "Automobile Liability Insurance" or "Premium", select either the letter A or P from the menu bar below: 

Insurance Glossary: Terms that Begin with the Letter 'h'

Hard Market

That part of the insurance sales cycle in which competitive pricing is at a minimum as companies charge the premiums necessary to meet their underwriting losses in order to avoid insolvency and boost capacity; usually associated with a sharp decline in capacity. See also Soft Market.


Condition that creates or increases the chance of loss.

Health Insurance

Coverage designed to protect against financial losses resulting from sickness or accidental bodily injury. Health insurance coverages include accident insurance, disability income insurance, medical expense insurance, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance.

Health Maintenance Organization

An organization that provides a wide range of comprehensive health care services for a specified group at a fixed periodic payment. The HMO can be contracted with and sponsored by the government, medical schools, hospitals, employers, labor unions, consumer groups, insurance companies, and hospital-medical plans.


Health Insurance Association of America.

High-Risk Automobile Insurer

Company that specializes in insuring motorists who have poor driving records or have been canceled or refused insurance. · Hold-Harmless Clause: Clause written into a contract by which one party agrees to release another party from all legal liability, such as a retailer who agrees to release the manufacturer from legal liability if the product injures someone.


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was the result of efforts by the Clinton Administration and congressional healthcare reform proponents to reform healthcare. The goals and objectives of this legislation are to streamline industry inefficiencies, reduce paperwork, make it easier to detect and prosecute fraud and abuse and enable workers of all professions to change jobs, even if they (or family members) had pre-existing medical conditions.


See Health Maintenance Organization.

Home Service Life Insurance

Industrial life insurance and monthly debit ordinary life insurance contracts that are serviced by agents who call on the policyowners at their homes to collect the premiums. The amount of life insurance per policy generally is larger than $1000.

Homeowner's Policy

A package of insurance designed to provide homeowners with a broad range of property and liability coverages, pertaining to events at home as well as away from home (although not automobile-related).


Moral uprightness – the quality, condition, or characteristic of being fair, just, truthful, and morally upright. Truthfulness – truthfulness, candor, or sincerity, (i.e.: In all honesty, I really didn’t know.)


Health care facility providing medical care and support services such as counseling to terminally ill persons.

Hospital Admissions Program

An arrangement to facilitate admission of persons covered by health insurance to hospitals and to assure the prompt payment of applicable insurance benefits to hospitals.

Hospital Expense Insurance

A form of health insurance designed to provide specific benefits for daily hospital room and board and hospital services during hospital confinement. Generally the policy also provides benefits for surgical operations and for in-hospital doctor's visits, in which case the policy is referred to as a Hospital and Surgical Expense Policy.

Hospital Indemnity

A form of health insurance which provides a stipulated daily, weekly, or monthly indemnity during hospital confinement. The indemnity is payable on an unallocated basis without regard to the actual expense of hospital confinement.

Hospital Medical Insurance

A term used to indicate protection which provides benefits for the cost of any or all of the numerous health care services normally covered under various health care plans.

Hospital Miscellaneous Services

Services other than room and board and general nursing services provided by a hospital during hospital confinement. Included are such items as x- ray examinations, laboratory tests, medicines, surgical dressings, anesthetics (including the administration thereof), and use of operating room.

Hull Insurance

(1) Class of ocean marine insurance that covers physical damage to the ship or vessel insured. Typically written on an "all-risks" basis. (2) Physical damage insurance on aircraft, similar to collision insurance in an automobile policy.

Human Life Value

For purposes of life insurance, the net present value of the family's share of the deceased breadwinner's future earnings.


A tropical storm marked by extremely low barometric pressure and circular winds with a velocity of 75 miles an hour or more.

Don't see an insurance term listed here?  Ask Customer Service for assistance.