Occurrence (Insurance)

An occurrence in insurance terms is an incident of damage or bodily injury that falls within the limits of insurance coverage and within the time period of coverage. Most auto insurance policies are occurrence based insurance, meaning coverage is activated when your vehicle is damaged or you're injured in an accident. Enter your ZIP code below to start comparing quotes for occurrence insurance near you.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Oct 30, 2020

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What is an occurrence in insurance terminology?occurrence

An occurrence for insurance purposes in the United States is an incident of damage to a body (person) or property that falls within the boundaries of the insurance coverage, takes place within the period of insurance coverage and for which an insurance company will need to make some form of payment under the policy.

This means that for a policy holder to make a claim against their insurance policy a specific occurrence of damage must have happened.

For an occurrence to be accepted as part of an insurance claim it must conform to the specifications set out by the insurer for peril within the insurance contract.

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An Example of Occurrence

For example; a vehicle owner has collision damage insurance and automobile liability insurance and his vehicle is in an accident with another vehicle. His insurance covers the occurrence of collision for damage to his own vehicle and to that of the 3rd party and he may make a claim with his insurance provider based on the amount of damages that he incurs and that the other party incurs up to the limit set by his policy on claims (which may either be a limit on the whole policy or an individual claim depending on the circumstances of his contract).

Another vehicle owner has automobile liability insurance only and her car is stolen from outside of her place of work, the workplace offers no warranty or insurance for her vehicle and is not thought to be liable for the theft in any respect. She attempts to claim for this occurrence of theft under her insurance policy, however automobile liability insurance does not offer protection in the event of loss or theft of a policy holder’s vehicle and this is not accepted as an occurrence under her existing policy.

It is important for drivers to ensure they have adequate insurance protection for their needs in the second example the lady involved might have had her claim accepted as an occurrence under a different policy for example comprehensive insurance which would have offered specific protection for the event of the theft or loss of her car.

If you don’t understand which occurrences you may be protected for, you should consult your insurance contract and if you are still under any level of confusion the next step is to approach your insurance agent or broker and have them explain what it means.

Additional Occurrence Definitions

  • About.com – An event that triggers coverage under the policy. Occurrence is often equated with “accident”; however, some policies define occurrence to include “continuous or repeated exposure which results in bodily injury or property damage neither expected nor intended by the insured” and so includes events beyond happenstance accidents… 
  • BusinessDictionary.comEvent that results in a loss to a third party due to bodily injury, or property damage or destruction. Most liability insurance policies stipulate that all losses resulting from the same general causes are considered as resulting from one occurrence, and are limited to the number of occurrences allowed in the insurance policy…
  • TheDoctors.comA type of policy in which the insured is covered for any incident that occurs (or that did occur) while the policy is (or was) in force, regardless of when the incident is reported or when it becomes a claim. Occurrence insurance for medical liability coverage is rarely offered today because of the difficulty of projecting long-term claims costs under this type of policy…

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