For Consumers

Glossary of terms

 

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A:

Admitted date (for companies):
When a company was authorized to sell insurance in Washington state.

Affiliations:
An agreement in which an insurance agent agrees to do business on behalf of an insurance agency. Example: Agent John Doe agrees to do business on behalf of ABC Insurance Agency in sales presentations to potential clients.

Appointment (individual agent):
An agreement in which an insurance agent agrees to do business of behalf of an insurance company. Example: Insurance agent John Doe agrees to sell policies for XYZ Insurance Company in sales presentations to potential clients.

Appointment (business entity):
An agreement in which an insurance company appoints an insurance agency to do business on its behalf.

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B:

Business entity:
Any sole proprietor, general partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, corporation or limited liability company.

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C:

Cancel date:
The date an agent or broker (insurance producer) license was canceled at the licensee’s request or revoked by our office.

Company complaint:
Any written communication consumers submit to our office expressing discontent with a specific insurance company. Companies must provide us with a written response to any complaint within 15 business days.

Corporate family group:
A group of companies owned or controlled by the same company.  For example: Yum! Brands owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, so these companies are all part of the Yum! corporate family.

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D:

Disciplinary orders:
A legal order our office issues for violations of the state’s Insurance Code.

Doing business as (DBA):
A DBA -- short for "doing business as" -- is a business name that’s different than the personal name or business name officially registered with the Washington Secretary of State.  Example: Fred Smith is a sole proprietor of an insurance agency. Fred wants to name his business “Mountain View Insurance” instead of “Fred Smith Insurance.” So Fred must register “Mountain View Insurance” as a DBA with our office.

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E:

Effective date:
The date a license of appointment for an agent or business took effect.

Expiration date:
The date a license, appointment, or affiliation will expire if not renewed.

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I:

Insurer:
An authorized insurance company, licensed by our office, that sells insurance and promises to pay for losses, provide benefits or provide services to the insured. An insurer can also be a health carrier registered by our office.

Investigation:
An investigation by our office includes reviewing a complaint against an insurance agent or agency.

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L:

License types (agents and brokers):

  • Producer: An insurance producer (also called an agent or insurance broker) is licensed by our office to sell insurance in Washington state. Producers are licensed to sell different types of insurance. Examples include auto, homeowner, life, disability or health insurance.
  • Independent adjuster: A licensed, independent person the insurance company hires to estimate the value of losses.
  • Managing general agent: Someone who’s appointed to manage all or part of the insurance business for an insurer. They may issue policies and pay claims on behalf of the insurance company.
  • Public adjuster: A licensed person who is hired by a policyholder to represent them in appraising and negotiating a claim with their insurer.

Past license types (New license types took effect July 1, 2009):

  • Agent: A person appointed by an insurer and is licensed to sell and service insurance policies on the company’s behalf in Washington state.
  • Broker: This person doesn’t not represent a particular company. They receive a fee for finding you coverage or renewing your policy.
  • General agent: A person appointed as a general agent by an insurer has the same authority as an agent, but may also have additional authority.
  • Solicitor: An individual authorized by an agent or broker to solicit applications and collect premiums on their behalf.

Line of authority (Descriptions):
A line of authority determines the type of insurance a producer (agent or broker) sells and services.

  • Casualty: Insurance to protect you against legal liability for the death, injury, or disability of anyone, or for damage to real and personal property. Example: Auto liability insurance.
  • Disability: Insurance that provides you with periodic payments to replace lost income when you can’t work due to illness or injury. An agent or broker with this license could sell health, disability, long-term care and accident insurance.
  • Life: Life insurance provides coverage if the policyholder dies. An agent or broker with this license can sell life insurance and annuities.
  • Limited line credit: Insurance intended to help pay off a debt. This includes credit life, credit disability, credit property, credit unemployment, involuntary unemployment, mortgage life, mortgage guaranty, mortgage disability, automobile dealer gap insurance. Example: Car dealers often offer credit life insurance to car buyers. The insurance will pay off the car loan if the borrower dies.
  • Personal lines: Property and casualty coverage sold to individuals and families for non-commercial coverage. Examples: homeowners coverage, renters insurance, auto insurance.
  • Property: Insurance that protects the policyholder from loss of or damage to real or personal property.  Examples include flood and earthquake insurance.
  • Surety: This is a guarantee or promise by a surety insurer to assume responsibility for doing something if the insured fails to perform.
  • Title: Title insurance protects against losses that could occur if you discover after completing your real estate purchase that someone else can claim ownership of your property.
  • Travel: Travel insurance can protect you if you are forced to cancel, delay, or interrupt your trip. It can pay for non-refundable travel costs, such as airfare, hotel, and tour expenses. Other types of travel insurance offer coverage for medical emergencies, damage to personal property, and even death while on vacation.
  • Variable life and variable annuity: Coverage provided under variable life contracts, variable annuities, or related products. The insurer invests your money, minus any applicable charges, in a separate account. If the fund doesn’t do well, you may lose some or all of your investment.

Past historical lines of authority:

  • Credit casualty: Insurance against loss or damage due to failure of debtors to pay their obligations to the insured.
  • Credit life and disability: Insurance on the life or disablement of a debtor, often in relationship to a specific loan.
  • Vehicle: Coverage for a driver when he or she damages property or injures others while driving an insured vehicle.
  • Marine: Insurance to cover loss of or damage to ships, port terminals and cargo.

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M:

Moved date:
The date an agent broker license was converted to a producer license.

Moved to insurance producer:
On July 1, 2009 our office moved from a dual-license system (agents and brokers) to a single-license system (producers). Agent and broker licenses were converted automatically to a producer license. The “producer model,” used in most states, is based on guidelines from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

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N:

NAIC number:
A nationwide ID number issued to insurers by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. It’s different than the license number our office gives to companies authorized to sell insurance in Washington state.

NPN number:
A nationwide ID number the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR) issues to insurance agents. It’s different than the license number our office gives to agents authorized to sell insurance in Washington state. 

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O:

Organization type (for companies):

  • Association: A group of people or organizations joined together for a particular business purpose, but not as a legal corporation or partnership.
  • Charitable gift annuity: A charity registered to accept cash or property from donors in exchange for a partial tax deduction and a lifetime stream of annual income (the annuity) from the charity. When the donor dies, the charity keeps the gift.
  • Fraternal benefit societies: Typically, an organization that insures members and their families and maintains an active lodge system such as the Kiwanis. This category can also include trade unions and credit unions.
  • Health care service contractor: Typically, an association, cooperative group, or corporation that contracts with hospitals, doctors, and other providers. These companies offer a network of contracted providers to meet their subscribers’ health care needs.
  • Health care discount plan: A health care discount plan is NOT health insurance. These plans typically provide a discount on health care costs for members dealing with contracted providers, networks, or other discount plans. Discount plans must be licensed with our office.
  • Health maintenance organization (HMO): Typically, an association, cooperative group, or corporation connected with a group of health care providers to provide comprehensive health care services. HMOs usually require you to get all your care (except for emergency care) from a list of providers. The plan may require your primary care doctor to provide you with a referral before you can see a specialist or go to the hospital.
  • Limited health care service contractor: This is similar to a health care service contractor, but offers only limited health care services, such as chemical dependency, dental care, pharmaceutical or vision care. These limited health care services do not include hospital, medical, surgical, emergency, or out-of-area services. For example, you may have a dental-only plan from your employer that provided you with a list of dentists.
  • Life: Life insurance provides coverage in the event the policyholder dies. Life insurance policies also may offer annuities.
  • Life settlements: Typically, an agreement under which a company buys a policyholder's life insurance policy for a one-time cash payment, usually less than the policy’s face value. Policyholders are often terminally ill and need the money for medication or treatment. These agreements were previously known as viatical settlements.
  • Multiple Employer Welfare Association (MEWA): An association of independent private employers who combine their employee health plans into one self-funded plan. Typically, the MEWA hires a claims administrator to make claim payments from a common fund financed by employer contributions. MEWAs are designed to give small employers access to low-cost health coverage similar to what’s available to large employers.
  • Purchasing group: A purchasing group is not an insurance company. It’s group of people who buy commercial liability insurance on a group basis. These are formed under a federal law known as the Risk Retention Act.
  • Property:An entity providing insurance against various causes of loss. 
  • Reinsurance intermediary: Someone who acts as an intermediary to form an insurance contract between insurance companies acquiring protection known as reinsurance. Reinsurance is a way for insurers to share and manage their risk.  
  • Risk retention: An insurer that provides a form of self insurance allowing an organization to retain a reserve fund to offset unexpected financial claims. These companies are formed under a federal law known as the Risk Retention Act.
  • Service contract provider: A company that agrees to repair, replace, or maintain a product, often for a specified period of time. For a vehicle, the contract may cover towing, rental, emergency road services, or other expenses relating to mechanical failure of the vehicle. These companies must register with our office and insure the contract with a Washington state insurer or risk retention group.
  • Trusteed alien reinsurer:  An insurer from another country, that takes on some liabilities from other insurers to share risk. These reinsurers usually have trusts established in the U.S. as collateral to cover their assumed risks.
  • Title: Title insurance protects against losses that could occur if you discover after completing your real estate purchase that someone else can claim ownership of your property.
  • Viatical settlement provider: A company that buys a policyholder’s life insurance policy, usually for less than the policy’s face value. The policyholders are often terminally ill and need the money for medication or treatment. The companies provide an early payout to the policyholder, assume the premium payments, and collect the face value of the policy upon the policyholder’s death.

Ownership type (for companies):

  • Association: Any group of people or organizations joined together for a particular business purpose but not a legal corporation or partnership.
  • Fraternal: Typically, an organization that insures members and their families and maintains an active lodge system such as the Kiwanis. This category can also include trade unions and credit unions.
  • Mutual: A company that’s owned by its policyholders.
  • Non-profit: Corporations organized under special state laws on a not-for-profit basis.
  • Other: “Other” categories of ownership include individual ownership, joint ventures, Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) and syndicates.
  • Reciprocal: A group of individuals or corporations (commonly called subscribers) who mutually insure one another, each separately assuming a share of each risk.
  • Self-Funded: A self-funded plan consists of an employer who creates a fund that pays employee health insurance claims.
  • Stock: A company or corporation whose capital is divided into shares.

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S:

Status (descriptions):

  • Active: A company, agent or broker who’s licensed and authorized to sell insurance in Washington state.
  • Inactive: A company, agent or broker whose license expired or was revoked, and is no longer authorized to sell insurance in Washington state. NOTE: A license will also display as non-active if it is in the 60-day late renewal period.

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W:

WAOIC number:
The state license number that our office issues to agents and companies authorizing them to sell insurance in Washington state.

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