Do people actually call insurance company's "carriers?"

In a previous role, i came across the phrase “carriers” to describe other “companies” or “insurance providing entities”

Does anyone intentionally use that phrase? The best i can think for why we did was to not always have to use the same phrasing.

Kinda out there, i know.

At the office with other insurance people? Yes, I hear and use that term.


Agreed. I’ve never heard it outside of a group of insurance people, but at work it’s pretty common.

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All the time

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Yup, all the time x2

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Not only do some of us call them “carriers”, sometimes I call them “writers”


And not to be left out the term “written on such and such paper”, versus other “paper”


airlines call themselves carriers. Not sure if people outside of airlines do

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The term is very common, but doesn’t mean the same thing as “insurance company”. The entity that provides the paper on which the policy is written is not necessarily the same company which markets, brokers, binds, or even underwrites the policy.

For example, there are large insurance companies which provide insurance brokerage and consulting services, but are not carriers. There are many insurtech companies and MGUs which market and sell insurance, but do not bear any of the insurance risk, and thus are not carriers.

Carrier has arrived


The carrier “carries” the risk. At least that was my thought.


aircraft carriers “carry” aircraft, fyi

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I always think of this as the actual company the policyholder has a contract with, like sure, the public brand may be AllState or State Farm, but the contract is with the company on the paper as i understand it. I would also call them “the underwriting company”

Is that consistent with your understanding?

So, per your understanding, you’re only a carrier if you can actually cut a check due to a covered claim. Those other various “middle men” presumably add value somewhere along the process, but are not an actual insurance company, may not be thoroughly licensed in each jurisdiction, and aren’t contractually liable for claims.

Thanks for the feedback everyone, it all makes me also wonder, what even is the origin of this terminology “carrier?” At some point person(s) decided this was actually a good phrase to describe an insurance entity, but who and why?

I don’t need to know but these things help in my experience

As someone already said, it might be from the entity carrying the insurance risk, since you know, not everyone that sells insurance actually carries the risk of insurance. There are numerous channels for selling insurance.

Geico doesn’t carry property risk even though it sells it. (I think)

There is insufficient vespene gas

spawn more overlords

I am sure that I sway the average age here upward, but I miss some old school insurance vocabulary words that aren’t used as much today.

Yes, insurance companies are “carriers.” This helps distinguish them from brokers, agencies, retailers, wholesalers, MGAs, MGUs, TPAs, or even JUAs.

Insurance companies are properly named with “The ____” like “The Chubb”, “The Travelers”, or “The Liberty”

And when I talk about an insurance company that is domiciled in a different state than me, then that company is a foreign insurance company. If an insurance company is domiciled outside of the US, then it is an alien insurance company.

Some old words/phrases are properly dead, like O.L.&T. Even LAE has definitions that are quite arguable. As Jerrytuttle once pointed out, the definitions of what constitutes adjustment expenses could vary from your annual statement filing, to your rating bureau reporting, or to your reinsurance treaties.

I’ve never heard of anyone talk about “The State Farm” or “The GEICO”.

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