Indemnity vs. Non-Indemnity Insurance: Key Differences Explained

When reviewing insurance options, you may come across the terms “indemnity” and “non-indemnity” used to describe certain policies. Understanding the distinctions between these two categories is important for choosing the right types of coverage.

In this article, we’ll explain the key differences between indemnity and non-indemnity insurance, provide examples of each, and discuss when these policy types are most appropriate.

What is Indemnity Insurance?

Indemnity insurance policies are structured to provide compensation directly tied to expenses, losses or damages incurred by the policyholder. The insurer reimburses the insured for their actual financial costs subject to the policy limits and terms.

Some key characteristics of indemnity insurance include:

  • Reimbursement of actual expenses – The payout is directly based on your real monetary losses. For example, an auto insurer pays to repair your car after an accident.

  • Loss must occur first – You cannot collect on the policy until after you’ve experienced a loss triggering the coverage.

  • Covers tangible items or losses – Applies to physical property that can be repaired, replaced or has a measurable market value.

  • No profit incentive – Payouts align with your actual costs and damages rather than providing any additional monetary gain.

Indemnity insurance aims to make you financially whole again after a loss, not pad your wallet. The compensation tries to get you back to your original financial position before the loss event occurred.

Examples of Indemnity Insurance

Some common forms of indemnity insurance include:

  • Auto – Covers damage to your vehicle in an accident, allowing repairs to be made. Also pays medical bills for injuries sustained.

  • Homeowners – Reimburses cost of repairs or rebuilding if your home is damaged by covered perils like fire, storms, theft, etc.

  • Business property – Replaces or covers cost to repair equipment, inventory, and other physical business assets after property damage.

  • Liability – Pays compensation if you are legally obligated to pay someone else’s expenses due to bodily injury or property damage you caused.

  • Travel – Reimburses trip cancellation costs if you need to call off travel due to covered circumstances. Also pays medical bills if injured while traveling.

  • Pet – Covers veterinary bills if your pet is ill or injured.

The common thread is these policies pay to cover costs directly resulting from physical loss or damage to property. The compensation aligns with actual expenses incurred.

What is Non-Indemnity Insurance?

Non-indemnity insurance provides policyholders with a fixed monetary payout upon an insurable event rather than reimbursing actual costs. The compensation is predetermined based on the coverage purchased, not tied directly to expenses.

Key features of non-indemnity insurance:

  • Fixed payout amount – The policy spells out the set cash benefit to be paid out if a claim triggers the coverage.

  • No proof of expenses required – You receive the same fixed payout regardless of the actual costs incurred.

  • Loss does not have to occur – Some non-indemnity policies pay out even if you did not experience financial loss.

  • Covers intangibles – Applies to losses not easily measurable in dollars like death or illness.

  • Profit potential – Payouts are not tied exactly to costs, so they can sometimes exceed actual expenditures.

While indemnity insurance aims for you to break even financially, non-indemnity coverage provides a standardized cash benefit.

Examples of Non-Indemnity Insurance

Some prominent non-indemnity insurance types include:

  • Life – Pays the predetermined death benefit to beneficiaries regardless of actual costs when the policyholder passes away.

  • Health – Provides fixed cash payouts for covered critical illnesses or injuries without tallying actual medical bills.

  • Disability – Issues monthly cash benefits based on insured income level if injury or illness prevents working.

  • Long-term care – Pays out fixed daily amounts for home health care or nursing home care costs.

  • Dental – Sets dollar limits per service like exams, fillings, crowns, etc. rather than reimbursing actual provider bills.

  • Accident – Issues lump-sum payouts for injuries like broken bones, burns, concussions, etc. specified in the policy.

These policies pay a set dollar amount rather than the actual cost of the loss for things that are difficult to financially quantify.

Key Differences Between Indemnity and Non-Indemnity Insurance

The table below summarizes some of the major differences between indemnity and non-indemnity insurance:

Indemnity Insurance Non-Indemnity Insurance
Reimburses actual losses or damages Pays out predetermined fixed monetary amounts
Loss must occur first May pay out even if no actual loss
Covers physical property Covers intangibles like death or illness
Aims to make insured financially whole Provides standardized payouts
Examples: Auto, homeowners, business property, liability Examples: Life, health, disability, long-term care

While indemnity policies reimburse concrete, measurable losses to tangible property, non-indemnity insurance provides compensation for losses difficult to quantify in dollars.

When to Use Each Insurance Type

Indemnity and non-indemnity policies each serve important but distinct purposes.

Indemnity insurance is best for replacing or repairing physical property like your home, car, or business equipment. The reimbursements aim to cover your actual costs and make you financially whole.

Non-indemnity coverage is better for losses without a clear dollar amount like death, illness, or inability to work. The standardized payouts provide set benefits without requiring proof of specific costs.

Most financial experts recommend having a mix of both indemnity and non-indemnity insurance tailored to your specific needs:

  • Indemnity policies to cover physical property risks
  • Non-indemnity coverage for risks to life, health, income, or care costs
  • Adequate limits to cover worst-case losses in each category

Blending these policy types creates a comprehensive safety net.

Key Takeaways

  • Indemnity insurance reimburses actual losses while non-indemnity insurance provides fixed payouts.
  • Indemnity policies cover property damage while non-indemnity insures intangibles like death or disability.
  • Most people need a combination of indemnity and non-indemnity insurance to be adequately protected.
  • Match coverage to your specific assets and risks – don’t pay for unnecessary policies.

Understanding the difference between indemnity and non-indemnity insurance ensures you have the right blend of policies to fully safeguard your finances.

What it means to indemnify someone.


What’s the difference between indemnity and non-indemnity?

Indemnity is paid as a lump sum at policy commencement and is on the basis that the policy will carry on for a specific term. Non-indemnity commission is paid by the provider in monthly installments over a set period of time.

What are the two types of indemnity?

In general, indemnity refers to “the obligation resting on one party to make good a loss or damage another party has incurred.” Historically, the obligation of indemnity took three forms: (1) indemnity expressly provided for by contract (express indemnity); (2) indemnity implied from a contract not specifically

What does no indemnity mean?

Non-indemnity insurance tends to cover things with no real replacement value. The amount of compensation received cannot be directly correlated with the loss. For example, life insurance is non-indemnity insurance because you cannot place a value or a cost of replacement on a person’s life.

What is an example of indemnity?

For example, in the case of home insurance, the homeowner pays insurance premiums to the insurance company in exchange for the assurance that the homeowner will be indemnified if the house sustains damage from fire, natural disasters, or other perils specified in the insurance agreement.

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