Insurance policy

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The certificate of insurance (or insurance policy , in short: Police ) is in the insurance industry a document in which the securitization of insurance contract is done.


The insurance contract is usually a comprehensive set of contracts including general insurance conditions , which is given to the policyholder in an abbreviated form as an insurance policy . The policy contains in particular the policyholder and any other insured person , the type of insurance , insurance number , the conditions of insurance cover , sum insured , insured value , insurance premium and commencement of insurance. In addition, subscription rights , pledges or assignments in favor of third parties can also be entered in the insurance policy , for example to credit institutions , in whose favor the sum insured is to be paid out in the event of damage.


The word "police" comes from the words for "proof, confirmation" ( Latin apodixa ), which appeared in Italy in the 14th century as an "insurance certificate" ( Italian polizza ). In 1565 it was adopted by the French language ( French police ), from which it found its way into a German dictionary in 1611 as a loan word and synonym for the insurance policy. Here it appeared for the first time as "policcen, on which they [ships] insure". The General Prussian Land Law (APL) of June 1794 required that, immediately after the insurance contract was concluded, the insurer "must draw up and sign the insurance letter or policy in accordance with the stipulated conditions against payment of the stipulated premium" (II 8, Section 2006 APL). Even today in Austria the word insurance policy is used instead of the insurance certificate in everyday language, in Switzerland corresponding insurance policy.

Legal issues

According to Section 3 (1) VVG , the policyholder is entitled to an insurance policy which must contain the essential elements of the insurance contract. The law provides for the text form as the form (Section 3 (1) VVG). If the policy is lost or destroyed, it must be declared invalid , which obliges the insurer to reissue it (Section 3 (3) VVG).

Qualified legitimation paper

In Section 4 (1) VVG, the law provides for the insurance certificate to be issued as a “certificate for the holder” and declares Section 808 BGB to be applicable. This gives the insurer the right to make payments to any holder of the insurance policy with the effect of discharging the debt, but without being obliged to pay to them. The insurer may consider the holder of the insurance policy to be entitled to dispose of all claims from the insurance contract. This means that the insurance policy is a qualified identification document within the meaning of Section 808 of the German Civil Code. As a result, the exhibitor is generally released from his obligation to pay if he pays the holder of the insurance policy, even if the holder is not entitled to receive the benefit. According to case law, an exception only applies if the exhibitor was positively aware of the owner's lack of right of disposal or otherwise performed the service contrary to good faith .

The provision of Section 4 (1) VVG also prevents the insurance policy from being designed as a pure bearer paper because it declares Section 808 BGB to be applicable. In addition, the insurance company is entitled to regard the certificate holder as being entitled to other dispositions of rights from the insurance contract. Because the legitimation effect of Section 808, Paragraph 1, Sentence 1 of the German Civil Code also extends to the contractually promised services . In the case of life insurance, the contractually promised performance is not just the performance of the sum insured in the insured event . The performance of the surrender value after termination of the contract is also contractually promised ( Section 176 VVG); because the right to the surrender value is just another manifestation of the right to the sum insured. Accordingly, the legitimation effect of an insurance policy as a document in the sense of § 808 BGB also extends to the right of termination in order to obtain the surrender value. The insurance company can therefore regard the owner of the insurance policy as entitled to terminate according to Section 808 of the German Civil Code (BGB) if he or she requests payment of the surrender value.

Simply handing over the policy is neither necessary nor sufficient to transfer the rights from the life insurance, because the policy is only a rectal paper . As with the savings book , it is rather necessary to transfer the claims from the policy by way of an assignment contract and the subsequent transfer of the policy to the new creditor. In the case of life insurances, notification of the assignment to the insurer is also required in order to be legally effective; this results from the absolutely applicable prohibition of assignment in Section 13 (3) of the General Life Insurance Conditions. Due to the legal design of the insurance policy as a qualified legitimation paper, the insurance may only provide coverage upon presentation of the policy, despite the legally effective transfer.

Transport insurance policy

A special feature is the transport insurance policy , which, as the accompanying paper, represents a born order paper of Section 363 (2) HGB if it contains the order clause . Then it is by endorsement transferable , so that the original policyholder ( seller / exporter ) them in advance to the shipping forwarder , this it the main run of the main freight forwarder and that they in the wake of the deconsolidator can transmit. The respective authorized holder of the transport insurance policy is entitled to have the damage reimbursed by presenting the cargo to the insurer in the event of transport damage. The transport insurance policy is not a traditional paper , but ownership of the freight is transferred to the buyer / importer according to the delivery and payment conditions , regardless of who is the owner of the transport insurance policy.

Policy Loans

The policy loan is a consumer loan where the surrender value of a life insurance policy is used as collateral for the insurer to grant a loan . The repayment can be made by offsetting against the amount insured.


While the Austrian colloquial language uses the police, the legal term is insurance certificate like in Germany. This is a certificate signed by the insurer about the insurance contract ( Section 3 (1) A-VVG). The insurance contract is usually accepted by sending the policy ( Section 1a (2) A-VVG). The policy is the document of proof of the content of the insurance contract and can be concluded informally. If the policy deviates from the application, the policyholder can object in writing within one month of receipt, even if he has been made aware of the deviation ( Section 5 A-VVG).

In Switzerland , according to Art. 11 CH-VVG, the insurer is required to issue the policyholder with a policy with the rights and obligations. If the content of the policy or the amendments to the same do not match the agreements made, the policyholder must, in accordance with Art. 12 CH-VVG, request that the document be corrected within four weeks of receipt of the document, otherwise the content is deemed to have been approved by him. In accordance with Art. 75 CH-VVG, claims from personal insurance cannot be assigned or pledged either by endorsement or by simply handing over the policy. In order to be valid, assignment and pledging require the written form and the transfer of the policy as well as written notification to the insurer.

In English-speaking countries of the Insurance Certificate ( English insurance policy ) a document that an insurance contract, the main features ( English policy contract reflects).

Web links

Wiktionary: Police  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Insurance policy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Gerhard Köbler , Etymological Legal Dictionary , 1995, p. 209
  2. Erika Branys, Homonymous Nouns in New English : A Contribution to the Life of Words , 1938, p. 103
  3. Alfred Schirmer, Dictionary of German merchant language on historical bases , 1611, p. 144
  4. General Land Law for the Prussian States , Third Part, 1794, p. 645
  5. BGH, judgment of February 24, 1999, Az .: IV ZR 122/98 = VersR 1999, 700
  6. BGHZ 28, 368 , 371
  7. BGHZ 64, 278
  8. BGHZ 45, 162
  9. BGHZ 112, 387