Definition of insure in English:


Pronunciation /ɪnˈʃʊə//ɪnˈʃɔː/


[with object]
  • 1Arrange for compensation in the event of damage to or loss of (property), or injury to or the death of (someone), in exchange for regular payments to a company or to the state.

    ‘the table should be insured for £2,500’
    ‘the company had insured itself against a fall of the dollar’
    no object ‘businesses can insure against exchange rate fluctuations’
    • ‘The wife shall ensure the property is fully insured for all perils to closing at her expense and for full insurable value.’
    • ‘It was for the individual to insure his property against fire; it was not for the community to do this for him.’
    • ‘But what players had the wherewithal to insure against potential energy losses for the entire State of California?’
    • ‘She said that only five per cent of private property was insured.’
    • ‘Can he insure the property with another insurer?’
    • ‘Both insure against loss or damage to gear and set premiums on declared value.’
    • ‘When it comes to motor vehicles, be sure that you are insured for the correct value and don't forget extras like a canopy and bull-bars when determining this.’
    • ‘He was not insured for either loss, and they follow the disastrous John Street Market fire last year which wiped out Mr Raper's stall.’
    • ‘Those who have third party cover are not insured for water damage to their vehicles.’
    • ‘That's why we will find a way of enabling people to insure against the loss of their homes and savings if they have to go into care.’
    • ‘Some insurance firms will not insure a property if it still has older wiring.’
    • ‘No carrier will insure a high-risk property if a loss of, say, $3 billion would wipe out the company before government aid kicks in.’
    • ‘Unless a property is adequately insured, the owner could have to pay a proportion of the reinstatement costs.’
    • ‘The object of the contract is to insure against accidental death and injuries, and the contract must not be construed so as to defeat that object, nor so as to render it practically illusory.’
    • ‘There is imposed upon the employer an obligation to insure against loss or damage by all these perils, in quite general terms.’
    • ‘The entire nuclear power industry is only insured for $9.3 billion.’
    • ‘The very public policy reason insurers do not insure against punitive damages, is that we don't want insurance to cover the perpetrators of intentional bad acts.’
    • ‘They were insured for the loss but the insurance company then came after me to recoup the costs.’
    • ‘Insurers believe that this category, often ignored, is just as important as insuring property and equipment.’
    • ‘I would be surprised if it were not insured for damages for libel or defamation anywhere in the world, and if it is not, then it should be.’
    sponsor, support, back, indemnify, provide security for, take the risk for, subsidize, contribute to, pay for, provide capital for, finance, fund
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Secure the payment of (an amount in compensation) in exchange for regular payments to a company or to the state.
      ‘your new sum insured is shown on your renewal notice’
      • ‘So… are the sums insured up to date and adequate?’
      • ‘First, that it was an ordinary personal accident policy whereby payment of the sums insured was independent of any fault by anybody.’
      assure, guarantee, protect, secure, make secure, give security to, warrant
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Provide insurance cover in respect of.
      ‘subsidiaries set up to insure the risks of a group of companies’
      • ‘GE is certainly going to suffer a net economic loss if any of their executives or even middle managers drop dead - are you going to keep them from insuring the risk?’
      • ‘Merrill added a new question to its monthly poll, about whether investors insured the currency risk of their dollar investments.’
      • ‘But either they cover the risks required to be insured against by section 143 and 145 of the Road Traffic Act 1972 and applied by the certificates or they do not.’
      • ‘They want to better identify the risk they are insuring, and they also want the client to take on the management of the risk.’
      • ‘Flood risk used to be insured separately but that stopped in the 1960s when it was seen as an integral part of household cover and brought into building and contents policies.’
      • ‘Insurance has been around for a long, long time, but it's just the popularity of insuring the risks of faltering stock prices, rising interest rates, and credit losses that has taken the world by storm during this cycle.’
      • ‘Well, I mean, you would have to know exactly what he means by insuring the risks.’
      protect, indemnify, cover, underwrite, assure, guarantee, warrant
      View synonyms
  • 2insure someone againstSecure or protect someone against (a possible contingency)

    ‘by appeasing Celia they might insure themselves against further misfortune’
    no object ‘such changes could insure against further unrest’
    • ‘Northern Bank was not insured against such a crime.’
    • ‘We can maximize our health potential in the 21st century by giving the body what it needs on a cellular level, insuring us against may degenerative diseases that are prevalent in today's society.’
    • ‘Make sure you read the small print and understand exactly what you are insured against.’
    • ‘We now know that the Scream is not insured against theft, only against fire or water damage.’
    • ‘Being rich never insures you against being unhappy.’
    • ‘If you are insured against something bad happening to you, like being unemployed, then you will be less prone to prevent it from happening than you would be without the insurance.’
    • ‘Such cases of resale of computer will be difficult because the buyer will not be able to insure them against theft without an invoice in their name.’
    • ‘How can they possibly be willing to insure me against gambling losses?’
    • ‘Apart from protecting your comics it is also important to insure them against damage and theft.’
    • ‘While one can, I suspect, develop highly efficient nuclear technologies, the expense of insuring them against being blown up is likely to be a long-term economic issue.’
    • ‘The article on previous page explains what you are insured against with standard cover.’
    • ‘It may be wildly unlikely, but then a couple of lines on a map changing the route of the pylons is a small premium if it will insure them against such an awful possibility.’
    • ‘But as we have discovered there is the world of difference between celluloid horror and the real thing and no amount of film can insure us against reality.’
    • ‘In the early nineties he had complained that film companies were getting reluctant to insure him against finishing a film, but he still continued to work as often as he could.’
    • ‘The law of rhythm obeys the law of averages, thereby insuring us against continuous bad luck.’
    • ‘Because you can prove ownership, you can more easily buy and sell your assets, insure them against loss, borrow against them, and protect them in court.’
    • ‘They are ensuring their profitability, not insuring us against the collective risk we all face from unknowable health disasters, minor to major to life-ending.’
    • ‘What does permanent health insurance and critical illness cover insure you against?’
    • ‘The insurance policy insured Mr Paine against specified risks including fire.’
    • ‘Social Security, on the other hand, insures you against periods of unemployment, since retirement benefits depend only on your highest 35 years of work.’
  • 3

    another term for ensure
    • ‘What can I do now to insure that my son will receive a quality education and stay motivated in the classroom?’
    • ‘How do I clean up my hard drive to insure that my personal information is gone when I donate my old computer?’


There is considerable overlap between the meaning and use of insure and ensure. In both British and US English the primary meaning of insure is the commercial sense of providing financial compensation in the event of damage to property; ensure is not used at all in this sense. For the more general senses, ensure is the more usual word, but insure is also sometimes used, particularly in US English, e.g. bail is posted to insure that the defendant appears for trial; the system is run to ensure that a good quality of service is maintained


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘assure someone of something’): alteration of ensure.