Investopedia / Dennis Madamba

What Is Apportionment?

Apportionment applies to many contexts. Where insurance is concerned, an apportionment is the allocation of a loss between all of the insurance companies that insure a piece of property. This allocation is used to determine the percentage of liability held by each insurer.

For example, three insurers that each cover $60,000 on a $120,000 property are apportioned 50% of the claim if the property is destroyed. Apportionment can also apply to real estate, workers' compensation, or the distribution of financial benefits.

Key Takeaways:

  • Apportionment describes the allocation of a loss between all of the insurance companies that insure a piece of property.
  • Apportionment can refer to real estate or the distribution of economic benefit.
  • Apportionment most often applies when two or more insurance policies are taken out with the same insured party.

Understanding Apportionment

Apportionments most often apply to situations of "other" or "double" insurance, where two or more insurance policies are taken out with the same insured party, on the same interest, on the same subject, against the same risks. Apportionments are most often defined in an apportionment or "other insurance" clause, which is usually part of the associated insurance policy.

An apportionment clause is a common provision found in both property and liability insurance policies. An apportionment clause prescribes the method for determining an insurer's portion of liability for loss where a property is covered by more than one insurance policy. Insurance proceeds are distributed according to this provision in proportion to the total coverage.

These provisions vary: some policies provide no coverage when other insurance is in place, some pay a pro-rata share, and others apply in case of excess losses not covered by the primary insurance policy. Apportionment clauses are intended to comply with the principle of indemnity, which states that an insured should not profit from an insured loss.

Apportionment in Workers' Compensation

In the case of workers' compensation insurance, apportionment might refer to the division of liability for an occupational illness among employers. For example, if an employee falls ill, more than one employer might have contributed to the work conditions that caused the employee's illness.

Apportionment in Real Estate

"Apportionment" has a different meaning in real estate. It typically refers to the allocation of property expenses, such as maintenance, insurance, and taxes, between the buyer and seller at the time of a transaction that involves a piece of real estate.

Buyers and sellers will usually apportion real estate taxes and other maintenance expenses for the month in which a real estate transaction takes place. This is done to ensure that the portion of property taxes earned by the local government before closing, but not yet paid because it is not yet due, will be paid by the seller in the form of a credit against the purchase price.

When the property tax bill is later received by the buyer, the buyer will pay the entire bill in full, having already received the equivalent reimbursement through the credit at closing.

In another real estate-related scenario, apportionment can also describe the division of financial responsibility for a property between tenants in common. Co-owners of a property may decide to apportion maintenance costs between themselves, according to the percentage of ownership or interest held by each party. 

How Much Does Each Party Receive During Apportionment?

This all depends on the law in the jurisdiction under question. Some states have a formula in place that must be followed, for example. In any case, usually the party or parties with the largest representation or stake will receive the largest proportion.

What Is Apportionment in Accounting?

In accounting, apportionment refers to how a business divvies up and attributes its gross income. This is important when a company has several divisions or subsidiaries, or if it operates internationally. It can also be used in the context of business taxation to determine which jurisdiction a company's tax liability is owed.

What Is Apportionment in Government Funding?

In terms of federal spending, an apportionment is an OMB-approved plan to use budgetary resources in specific amounts, for specific purposes and time periods. An apportionment is legally binding, and obligations and expenditures (disbursements) that exceed it are a violation of the Antideficiency Act.

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