Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Reading an insurance policy: schedule of forms and endorsements

In my last post I began discussing how to read an insurance policy, beginning with the coverage selection page. The next thing you should understand is the order in which you should read a policy. (Hint: it's not necessarily front to back.)

The coverage selection page of many policies includes a section called "Schedule of forms and endorsements" or some variation of that. That section will contain a list of names of forms referred to by a combination of numbers and letters that make no sense to anyone who is not an underwriter (a person who puts together insurance policies). An example from a malpractice policy I had a few years ago:

U-PL-871-A CW (4/98)

The schedule identifies the forms and endorsements (which, for practical purposes are the same thing) that make up your policy. Some policies, such as a motor vehicle policy, may contain only a coverage selection page and the main policy form. Others, such as commercial general liability policy, will contain a coverage selection page and up to a couple of dozen forms, some as short as one page and others quite lengthy.

Generally the form identification, corresponding to the entries in the schedule of forms and endorsements, is at the bottom of each form. Each listing on the schedule of forms and endorsements should correspond to a matching form, and vice versa. If you have a form that is not listed on the schedule, or an entry on the schedule without a corresponding form, you should follow up with your insurer to see if the mistake is on the schedule or (more likely) in the insurer putting together the forms.

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