How to read your policy documents
The wordings of your policy documents are your legal contract of cover and can be long and complex to read. We break through the jargon and dense legal language to help you find exactly what you need, when you need it.
Why do you need to read your policy documents?
You're making changes to your business
Picture the scene, you’re thinking of expanding your business by taking on more employees, opening in a new territory or broadening the range of services that you provide.
You may want to consult your insurance policy documents to check whether you’ll still be covered by your existing policy, or if you need to make an adjustment.
You want to see what’s included before you purchase
If you've been quoted a price for an insurance policy, before you go ahead and actually purchase your policy, you may want to be absolutely sure that you’re covered for everything that you think you are.
Every insurance policy will contain some exclusions so checking your policy documents will allow you to see exactly what’s covered and what isn’t.
Where to find your policy documents
Superscript customers' policy documents are entirely digital, as we're a largely paperless business – think of the trees! Depending on whether you're an existing customer or you're about to purchase your policy, you can find your documents in a variety of places.
In the Superscript quote builder – prior to checkout
One you've got your quote and you're just about ready to purchase your insurance, you'll be able to find a pre-purchase version of your policy documents to download right before you reach checkout. You'll reach a page called 'Review your subscription details'. Simply click on 'Policy wording'
In your welcome email
When you purchase an insurance policy from Superscript, we'll send you a welcome email with all the details of your cover, as well as a copy of your policy documents.
In the Superscript customer portal
Once you're a Superscript customer, you can log into your customer portal at any point to view the details of your cover, including your billing details, as well as download your policy documents and an evidence of cover certificate.
What are the different sections of a policy document?
Insurance policy documents are like Quentin Tarantino’s movie, Pulp Fiction (stick with me on this). Not everything is shown in order. To really understand your cover, you need to be ready to jump back and forth between different sections. So what are those sections and what do they contain?
In an insurance policy document, the schedule usually sits at the top and essentially lists:
- Your business' details (name, business activity and registered address)
- Your policy's anniversary date
- The monthly or annual price of your premium
In some policy documents, the schedule may also show the geographical and jurisdictional limits of your policy.
Below this (or on the next page) is a list of all the covers that are (and are not) included in the policy, along with the limits of each. This may be called either:
- Sections you have chosen to cover
- Limits of Liability
No, these endorsements aren’t the same as the deal between Nike and Michael Jordan. In an insurance policy document, ‘endorsements’ are essentially a list of add-ons, extensions or amendments to the policy wording.
They trump everything that comes before or after in the document so it’s important that when you read through your policy docs, you make sure that you pay attention to the endorsements. These are usually (but not always) industry-wide additions that are added to all policy wordings across the market.
Here’s an example of an endorsement from a real Superscript policy document:
Notwithstanding any other provision within your policy, no cover is provided under the Business equipment section of your policy for any loss (including loss of value and loss of use), damage, claim, cost or expense of whatsoever nature, directly or indirectly caused by or in any way contributed to by, resulting from, arising out of, or in connection with:
1. any excluded pathogens or diseases
Excluded pathogens or diseases means
Any coronavirus or the disease it causes, including but not limited to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (COVID-19), severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) (MERS), or any mutation or variation thereof
Now that's a lot of complex legal language, but in simple terms this means that when it comes to this person’s business equipment cover, they will not be covered for any claim arising in connection to a coronavirus. This was added as an endorsement across the insurance industry in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Sometimes called ‘meaning of defined terms’, this section really does what it says on the tin. It clearly defines what important terms mean so that whenever they’re used throughout the rest of the document, you can refer to the definitions section to know exactly what they mean.
Throughout the policy document, you will see terms that are highlighted in bold so you know that what you’re reading is a defined term and will have a specific meaning.
For example, you might read:
"We will pay all damages and claims costs that you become legally obliged to pay because of a claim made against you during the period of insurance."
This sentence has six defined terms in it:
- Claims costs
- Period of insurance
You can refer to the definitions section to see a specific definition of what those terms mean so you know exactly what’s covered.
Some insurers will place their definitions close to the beginning of the policy document to introduce the terms that will be used throughout, while others will place it at the end, much like an index in a book.
Every policy document will include a section called the 'policy conditions' and often, each different cover within your policy will have its own 'section conditions' that refer to that cover specifically.
These are essentially a set of rules or requirements that need to be met for your cover to be valid.
These conditions can refer to actions you must undertake or processes that you must have in place during the period that you're insured. For instance, a policy document for cyber insurance cover might include a section condition that states all the cyber security precautions you have to have in place (such as enabling multi-factor authentication on all business devices) for your cyber cover to be valid.
If you have not complied with these conditions, then in that example scenario, you might find you're not covered in the event of a cyber breach.
Alternatively, the conditions might address what you must do when making a claim in order for it to be valid. These are sometimes called a 'claims notification condition' or a 'claims procedure condition'. For your claim to be valid, you must ensure you comply with all these conditions.
Referred to in your policy document as 'What we cover' or 'What is covered', this section quite simply lays out what your policy actually covers and what the insurer will pay for.
Insuring clauses will often be written in the following style:
- We will pay for all damages and claims expenses you become legally obliged to pay because of...
- We will reimburse all financial loss sustained by your organisation as a direct result of...
- We will cover the amount of compensation which you are legally liable to pay in respect of...
- We will pay claim costs in connection with...
- We will compensate you at the rate of...
Referred to as ‘What we don’t cover’ or ‘What’s not covered’, the exclusions section will almost always follow directly after the insuring clauses section and lists explicitly what scenarios are not covered by the policy.
For example, a common exclusion across the insurance industry relates to any claim in connection to asbestos.
This market-wide exclusion makes clear that the policy will not cover the cost of any claim associated with the presence of, removal of or exposure to asbestos.
This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Please always refer to your policy documents for full details around exclusions, terms and limits of your customised cover.
Need to get in touch?
If you have any questions about your policy documents, just drop us an email or give us a call.