Insurance Explained: Three Factors for Understanding Coverage Types

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I work for Nationwide Insurance as a user experience designer which means that on good days I get to help normal humans understand what insurance people are trying to communicate. It’s not always easy.

Often working with process, politics, and projects leaves relatively little time for design in the purest sense, but I love it. Helping make plain complex and relatively uninteresting concepts is a huge rush. While that may be incredibly dorky of me to admit, I am proud to be an insurance outsider working on the inside of an insurance company.

Some time back (When I actually looked through my notes it was exactly 11 months ago to the day. Crazy right?) as I was grappling with the ogre that is auto insurance and thinking deeply about what is would take to make the convoluted laundry lists of line item coverage types inside car insurance policies more clear for folks who may not care to fill there days with such ponderings – it hit me.

There are really only three factors which can be used to describe what a coverage actually does in an insurance policy – cause, ownership, and object.

#1 the cause factor:

Does a coverage address things that are caused by you,  caused by somebody else, or not  caused by anybody?

#2 the ownership factor:

Does a coverage protect you or the other guy?

#3 the object factor:

Does the coverage take care of this kind of stuff or that kind of stuff, for example medical versus repair costs.


That’s really it. If you know of a type of insurance coverage which could better described outside these three factors let me know.

Like a said, I like to think of myself as an insurance outsider, but I’m pretty sure thinking in the context of these three could make the line items coverages in your insurance documents more understandable.

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