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In the context of insurance, particularly in property insurance, “co-insurance” is a clause that is used to encourage the policyholder to insure their property to its full value. It’s an important concept for property owners to understand because if the property is underinsured, the co-insurance clause can reduce the claim payout in the event of a loss.

The co-insurance clause typically works as follows in Ontario, as well as in many other jurisdictions:

  1. Determination of Minimum Required Coverage: The clause sets a percentage (e.g., 80%) that represents the minimum proportion of the property’s actual value that must be insured.
  2. Calculation of Claim Payout: If a loss occurs and it is determined that the property was insured for less than the required percentage of its value, the claim payout is proportionally reduced.

Here’s a simple example: Suppose you have a building with an actual value of $1,000,000. With an 80% co-insurance clause, you should insure it for at least $800,000. However, let’s say you only insure it for $600,000. If a fire causes $100,000 in damages:

  • The amount you insured = $600,000
  • The amount you should have insured (80% of $1,000,000) = $800,000
  • Payout will be = (Your coverage / Required coverage) * Loss amount
  • Payout will be = ($600,000 / $800,000) * $100,000 = $75,000

So, instead of receiving the full $100,000 for your claim, you’d only receive $75,000 due to the co-insurance clause.

The intent of this clause is to prevent underinsurance, ensuring that people don’t understate the value of their property to achieve lower premiums while still expecting a full payout in the event of a significant loss.

If you have a policy with a co-insurance clause, it’s essential to periodically review the property’s value and your coverage to ensure compliance with the clause and avoid potential penalties.

What is an example of a co insurance clause?

Let’s delve deeper into the concept of co-insurance with a detailed example. Remember, the co-insurance clause is designed to ensure that property owners are adequately insured relative to the value of their property.

Example: Co-Insurance Clause in a Commercial Property Policy

Imagine you own a commercial building. Based on a professional appraisal, the replacement cost of the building is $1,000,000.

Your insurance policy has an 80% co-insurance clause. This means you should insure the building for at least 80% of its replacement value, which in this case would be $800,000 (80% of $1,000,000).

Scenario 1: Adequate Insurance Coverage

You decide to properly follow the co-insurance clause and insure the building for $800,000. A few months later, an unfortunate event occurs, and your building sustains $200,000 worth of damage.

In this case, since you met the co-insurance requirement, your insurance will cover the damage (subject to any deductibles or other policy conditions), so you’d get the full $200,000 (less any deductible).

Scenario 2: Under-Insurance

Instead of insuring the building for the recommended $800,000, let’s say you decide to save on premiums and only insure it for $600,000.

Now, let’s assume the same unfortunate event happens, and you have $200,000 worth of damage. The co-insurance clause comes into play here:

Amount you did insure: $600,000 Amount you should have insured (80% co-insurance): $800,000

Using the formula: (Claim Amount) × (Amount Insured / Amount Required to be Insured) = Payout

= $200,000 × ($600,000 / $800,000) = $200,000 × 0.75 = $150,000

So, instead of receiving the full $200,000 for the damages, you’d only receive $150,000 due to the co-insurance penalty. This leaves you with a $50,000 out-of-pocket expense, even though you have insurance.

The co-insurance clause, in this case, is ensuring that policyholders who under-insure their property relative to its value bear a higher proportion of any loss.

What is the difference between insurance clause A and C?

When discussing insurance clauses, particularly in the realm of property insurance, “Clause A” and “Clause C” typically refer to specific types of perils covered. The exact terminology and definitions might vary by country or insurance company, but the concepts generally revolve around the breadth of coverage. Here’s a general overview:

  1. Clause A – All Risks or All Perils Coverage:
    • This is the broadest form of coverage.
    • It covers all risks of direct physical loss or damage to the insured property unless specifically excluded or limited in the policy.
    • Common exclusions might include wear and tear, inherent vice, acts of war, nuclear incidents, etc.
    • Since this is a more comprehensive form of coverage, it tends to be more expensive than other types of coverage.
  2. Clause C – Basic or Named Perils Coverage:
    • This coverage is more limited and typically only covers losses resulting from perils specifically named in the policy.
    • Examples of named perils might include fire, lightning, explosion, theft, etc.
    • If a loss occurs due to a peril that is not named in the policy, there is no coverage for that loss under a Named Perils policy.
    • Because it offers narrower coverage, it might be less expensive than an All Risks policy.

In choosing between the two, policyholders need to assess their risk tolerance, the value of what they’re insuring, and their budget for insurance premiums. Some might opt for the peace of mind that comes with broader coverage, while others might prefer to save on premiums and take on a bit more risk themselves.

What are the pros and cons of co-insurance?

Co-insurance, a common feature in many insurance policies, can offer advantages for both the insured and the insurer, but it also comes with potential downsides. Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of co-insurance:


  1. Lower Premiums for the Insured: Co-insurance can lead to reduced premiums because the insured is taking on a portion of the risk. If the insured believes they’re less likely to make a claim or can bear a portion of the loss, they might opt for co-insurance to save on premiums.
  2. Encourages Adequate Coverage: In property insurance, the co-insurance clause discourages policyholders from underinsuring their property. If they do underinsure and a loss occurs, they could face a significant out-of-pocket expense due to the co-insurance penalty.
  3. Distributes Risk: Co-insurance distributes the risk of a claim between the insurer and the insured. This distribution can make it more financially viable for insurance companies to offer certain types of coverage or to provide coverage to higher-risk individuals or businesses.
  4. Reduces Small Claims: Since the insured is responsible for a percentage of the claim cost, they might be less inclined to file small or frivolous claims.


  1. Higher Out-of-Pocket Costs: In the event of a claim, the insured will have to bear a portion of the costs due to the co-insurance percentage they’ve agreed to.
  2. Complexity: Co-insurance can complicate the claims process, especially when it’s not understood by the policyholder. Policyholders need to understand the implications of co-insurance when a claim is made.
  3. Potential for Underinsurance: While the co-insurance clause aims to prevent underinsurance, it can backfire if policyholders do not fully understand it. Those who unintentionally underinsure their property might be caught off guard when they don’t receive the full claim amount they were expecting.
  4. Potential Financial Strain: If a significant claim arises, the policyholder might face financial strain or hardship because of their responsibility to cover the co-insurance percentage, especially if they weren’t adequately prepared or didn’t fully understand the implications.

As with any insurance-related decision, it’s essential for individuals and businesses to understand their policies fully, including any co-insurance clauses. Consulting with an insurance professional can help clarify the potential benefits and drawbacks in specific situations.

About the Author: Valerie D. Hahn

Valerie is an insurance editor, journalist, and business professional at RateLab. She has more than 15 years of experience in personal financial products. She strives to educate readers and ensure that they are properly protected.

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