Is it time to move away from the term “in the aggregate”

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As you can imagine I field a great number of questions on a daily basis. One that keeps coming up more and more, particularly from lawyers, is: “what does the term ‘in the aggregate’ mean“.

Anyone who has been brought up in insurance knows that when it refers to a Limit or Sub-Limit of Liability it means that the amount shown is the maximum amount payable in any one period of insurance.

When it comes to deductibles it can be a little more difficult to decipher depending on the words around the word ‘aggregate’. To be honest some of the clauses I have read around aggregate deductibles, I have no idea what they mean as they could be interpreted 2 or even 3 different ways.

If so many lawyers are not sure what the term ‘in the aggregate’ means I wonder what clients understand it to mean.

What we see is that in the casualty space some insurers are using terms such as ‘any one period of insurance’ or ‘maximum amount payable under this extension’.

In view of the above, coupled with the constant push to use plain English and the new Unfair Contract Terms legislative changes, when it comes to an aggregate Sub-Limit, I am suggesting a change on ISR slips, schedules, certificates of currency from the term ‘in the aggregate’ to: ‘maximum amount payable in any one period of insurance’.

My reasoning is that this will make it clearer to a non insurance person and overcome the conflict between the desire to have a maximum amount payable in any one period of insurance in a policy that contains an automatic reinstatement clause.

I would welcome readers thoughts on this proposed change including any words that you feel make it ever clearer.

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