The terms, the terms… Personal-lines insurance policies

25 Oct 2021

The SAIA Treating Customers Fairly workgroup on Standardised Terminology has compiled a list of common terms and their meanings as used in personal-lines insurance policies that are potentially confusing to consumers.

The South African Insurance Association (SAIA) is the representative body of the non-life insurance industry with some 58 members. They abide by a Code of Conduct which ensures best-practice industry standards. Its core functions are:

  • The representation of its members’ interests to the public in a proactive manner.
  • The representation of its members’ interests to government at all levels, as well as to other relevant bodies.
  • The representation of its members’ interest to the media.
  • The provision of a forum for discussion of common interests in the non-life insurance industry.
  • The facilitation of information flow among its members.
  • Interaction with all associations operating within the insurance industry, both locally and abroad.
  • Interaction with all relevant organisations and entities especially in the key priority areas.
  • The setting of appropriate technical standards for the industry.

Consumer information is important in performing these functions and their website and app are a useful resource for educating consumers about short term insurance. Education booklets on the site include:

  • Home insurance,
  • Motor insurance, and
  • Household insurance.

Of particular use and as a starting point is their list of standardised terminology of the 50 most common terms used in personal-lines insurance policies and which are potentially confusing. The terms were identified by the SAIA Treating Customers Fairly workgroup on Standardised Terminology and it aims to ensure that policy wording is understood fully by the consumer.

So if you are making a claim, or are taking out a policy and would like to know the meaning of terms like:

  • All risks
  • Betterment
  • Credit shortfall
  • Held liable
  • Material fact
  • No-claim bonus
  • Proximate cause
  • Replacement cost or value
  • Repudiate
  • Uneconomical to repair

For forty more terms, visit with an interactive list, or download the SAIA Standardised Terminology List.

The document does not however in any way replace consumers’ own policy documents or contracts of insurance, or the definitions contained therein. It does not seek to contain a completely comprehensive explanation/definition of all possible meanings of the terms listed; nor does it alter, replace or substitute any applicable rules, guidance or law.

See also:

(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
John de Villiers

John de Villiers has been the editor of the LexisDigest (formerly the GhostDigest) since its inception in February 2003. He joined the then Korbitec as a software tester in May... Read more about John de Villiers


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