When you purchase an insurance policy, you are purchasing coverage for specific items or conditions. In the world of insurance coverage, the term "exclusions" often comes up. This can mean a variety of things depending on the type of insurance involved, but the basic meaning of the term is simple. It means that whatever is excluded is not covered by the insurance policy.

For example, auto insurance covers your vehicles; life covers your life and provides income for your beneficiaries upon your death; homeowners' covers your home and the contents against a variety of circumstances; and, health covers your medical needs. With each of these different types of insurance policies and others, coverage is provided for specific things while coverage for other things may be excluded.

Auto insurance policies may exclude certain drivers in your household that are deemed to be high risk by the policy provider. In this case, any claim resulting from the use of a covered vehicle by that driver would not be covered by the policy.

Similarly, life insurance policies often contain exclusions for certain causes of death. If you have a life insurance policy and die as a result of any of those things, the policy would not pay out. If you participate in high risk activities such as parachuting, mountain climbing, or are on active military duty, you need to be sure you are familiar with your policy and any exclusions it contains. Most also have exclusions for suicide.

Homeowners insurance may have exclusions for certain types of damage to your home, such as that caused by flooding unless you have a separate flood insurance policy. They also often exclude costly jewelry, equipment, or antiques unless separate coverage is purchased.

Health and dental insurance policies may contain a variety of exclusions of coverage. Whatever is excluded will not be covered by the policy even if deemed medically necessary by your attending physician. Some typical exclusions often include pre-existing conditions or specific medical conditions or treatments or surgeries. It is important to know the limits on your coverage before you seek treatment. Some treatments or surgeries need prior approval or they may not be covered.

It is important that you read through your insurance policies and understand the exclusions that may be included. Almost every type of insurance available has the potential to include exclusions of specific things in individual policies. Health and dental insurance are often the most problematic for people who do not read their policies carefully. If you have questions or concerns, contact your agent for clarification on any item you do not understand. Understanding your coverage up front can reduce or eliminate problem situations that may arise in the future.