Retroactive date - the date specified in the insurance contract, after which the events that led to the damage and the establishment of the policyholder’s liability during the term of the policy are covered by insurance (Kealy D. 2015, p.48). Practically retroactive date is the starting point in the past, before the conclusion of the insurance contract, to which the insurance conditions apply.
But there exist sitiations, in which the insurance coverage can't be applied to, even if the claim for damages is received during the term of the policy – if the event that caused the damage and which caused the liability of the policyholder, occurred before the retroactive date.
Retroactive date is a start date of retroactive period. It is the time from the retroactive date to the day of the conclusion of the insurance contract (Ershow-Levenberg L., Sheahan Knee P. 2013, paragraph 8.6). The contract provides protection in case of negative events, the causes of which have arisen in the past, before the date of the conclusion of the contract. Therefore, such addition to the contract will be practically meaningless in case of personal insurance. Because even if a citizen suffers from a disease, it will be extremely difficult to prove that it began in the past period and was asymptomatic at the time of the medical examination.
The contract with retroactive period and, of course, retroactive date can be often found in the:
- Agriculture business insurance contracts,
- Construction sites and developer in general,
- Survey works and etc.
In case of construction works, it also popular to insure the building and materials itsef. The developer insures the risk of destruction of the building not only against external factors or poor-quality construction work, but also because of the use of poor quality raw materials, chosen by external constraction company. Such insurance is beneficial to the developer, since it saves him from paying compensation to the end user. It is important to note that the owner of the built property will have to independently prove the fact of poor-quality construction (Sido K. 2006, pp. 50-52).
Pros and Cons
The positive side of this clause in the insurance contract is an additional opportunity to avoid the risk that arises before the date of the contract, which can save a lot of money, if the incident takes place. Also, it helps to attaract investors, because it lows risks related to the project and it's effects (Mesnooh C. 1994, p. 108).
The disadvantages include an possible gap, especially in recurring insurance contratcs, when insurance agency can provide reproactive date which goes ahead of contract's inception date. In that case, retroactivity of the contarct is much shorter, than it supposed to be (Jerry R., Richmond D. 2012, paragraph 65). A possible drawback for the insurance company is the possibility of fraud on the part of the insured. For example, the agricultural businessman during the winter period did not ensure the safety of seed material. So when he concludes an insurance contract with retroactive date, he is sure in advance that he will receive compensation without additional investment.
In conclusion, the retroactive date is an important element in the insurance agreement. It determines the exact date after which the events that led to the occurrence of damage and the establishment of liability of the insured during the term of the policy (contract), are covered by insurance compensation. If it is being used wisely, it will help both sides to benefit from such clause in the contract.
- Ershow-Levenberg L., Sheahan Knee P. (2013). LexisNexis Practice Guide: New Jersey Elder Law 2013 Edition, LexisNexis, New Jersey, paragraph 8.6;
- Fleischhaker K. (2008). The Savvy Businessperson's Guide to Property & Casualty Insurance: Applications and Practices, AuthorHouse, Bloomington, pp. 21-26;
- Jerry R., Richmond D. (2012). Understanding Insurance Law, LexisNexis, New Jersey, paragraph 65;
- Kealy D. (2015). Understanding the Commercial General Liability Policy, Lulu.com, paragraph 8.6;
- Mesnooh C. (1994). Law and Business in France: A Guide to French Commercial and Corporate Law, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht, p. 108; p.48;
- Sido K. (2006). Architect and Engineer Liability: Claims Against Design Professionals, Aspen Publishers, New York, pp. 50-52.
Author: Veronika Tomilova