How to decipher ambiguity in insurance

July 11, 2023

In a swimming gala, one is not allowed to mix swimming styles in a stroke. If one is participating in a backstroke, the styles that are allowed are those related to a backstroke. You get disqualified if you apply a side stroke style during a backstroke. The opposite holds true. This is the ground rule in swimming competitions – one style in a stroke. The same applies to insurance. When a word, in a policy, denotes more than one meaning, that word must be made clear to which of the meanings it is being applied. Every word must be intelligible.

When drafting a policy of an insurance contract, an insurer may use terms as he wishes as long as he is within the ambit of law and standard practice. It’s not uncommon for risks to be insured in one policy and excluded in another policy. It is possible, too, to insure a risk in the underlying operative clause and exclude it under exclusions in the same policy as long as the exclusion is clarified. For example – in a fire insurance policy, damage to property by fire is an insured peril and is expressed in the insuring clause. However, the same peril is excluded from cover if its cause is deliberate on the part of the insured party.