Definition of insure in US English:



[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 advance payments to a company or government agency.

    ‘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 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.’
    • ‘Insurers believe that this category, often ignored, is just as important as insuring property and equipment.’
    • ‘Both insure against loss or damage to gear and set premiums on declared value.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Some insurance firms will not insure a property if it still has older wiring.’
    • ‘Those who have third party cover are not insured for water damage to their vehicles.’
    • ‘Unless a property is adequately insured, the owner could have to pay a proportion of the reinstatement costs.’
    • ‘The wife shall ensure the property is fully insured for all perils to closing at her expense and for full insurable value.’
    • ‘But what players had the wherewithal to insure against potential energy losses for the entire State of California?’
    • ‘It was for the individual to insure his property against fire; it was not for the community to do this for him.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She said that only five per cent of private property was insured.’
    • ‘The entire nuclear power industry is only insured for $9.3 billion.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They were insured for the loss but the insurance company then came after me to recoup the costs.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There is imposed upon the employer an obligation to insure against loss or damage by all these perils, in quite general terms.’
    • ‘Can he insure the property with another insurer?’
    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 Provide insurance coverage with respect to.
      ‘subsidiaries set up to insure the risks of a group of companies’
      • ‘They want to better identify the risk they are insuring, and they also want the client to take on the management of the risk.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Merrill added a new question to its monthly poll, about whether investors insured the currency risk of their dollar investments.’
      • ‘Well, I mean, you would have to know exactly what he means by insuring the risks.’
      • ‘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.’
      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 violence and unrest’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Apart from protecting your comics it is also important to insure them against damage and theft.’
    • ‘Being rich never insures you against being unhappy.’
    • ‘Social Security, on the other hand, insures you against periods of unemployment, since retirement benefits depend only on your highest 35 years of work.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘What does permanent health insurance and critical illness cover insure you against?’
    • ‘Northern Bank was not insured against such a crime.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Make sure you read the small print and understand exactly what you are insured against.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘How can they possibly be willing to insure me against gambling losses?’
    • ‘The article on previous page explains what you are insured against with standard cover.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 insurance policy insured Mr Paine against specified risks including fire.’
    • ‘We now know that the Scream is not insured against theft, only against fire or water damage.’
    • ‘The law of rhythm obeys the law of averages, thereby insuring us against continuous bad luck.’
    • ‘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.’


There is considerable overlap between the meaning and use of insure and ensure. In both US and British 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 more likely to be used, but insure and ensure are often interchangeable, particularly in US English: 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.