What is 'Apportionment'

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 a percentage of liability for each insurer. For example, three insurers, that each cover $30,000 on a $90,000 property are each apportioned a third of the claim if the property is destroyed. Apportionment can also refer to real estate or the distribution of economic benefit.

BREAKING DOWN 'Apportionment'

Apportionments most often apply to situations of "other" or "double" insurance, where two or more insurance policies are taken out on 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 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.

Apportionments 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 in order to ensure that the portion of property taxes earned by 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 property may decide to apportion maintenance costs between themselves, according to the percentage of ownership or interest held by each party. 

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