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In an insurance contract, the roles must normally be precisely defined between:

  1. The underwriter: the person who signs the insurance contract (and normally pays the insurance premium)
  2. The insured: the person on whose head is the insured event of the contract
  3. The beneficiary: the person who will receive the money in case the insured event of the insurance contract occurs.

In some cases, these three persons are the same, but not always. For instance, a grandmother (the "underwriter") could sign a life insurance contract so that her grandchildren (the "beneficiaries") receive some money in case the parents (the "insured" persons) die. This example is a bit theoretic, but it explains the concept.

What are the correct German words for these three different roles ? I have looked in various dictionaries like DUDEN but they mix a bit everything together, not distinghishing between "Versicherungsnehmer" and "Versicherte".

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I'm no Versicherungskaufmann, but according to my experience with insurance contracts (and according to Wikipedia), the terminology is as follows:

The Versicherungsnehmer is the contractual partner for the insurance company. They typically pay the premiums and are the first contact for questions or problems the insurance company may have. That would be the underwriter.

The versicherte Person is the person whose risk is insured. They may be or may be not identical with the Versicherungsnehmer. That would be the insured. You may find the term "mitversicherte Person". That's somebody whose risk is also insured, maybe the spouse or the kids of the "primary" versicherte Person.

The last term doesn't apply to a person im German, but to the right to receive money from the contract. That right is called Bezugsrecht. The person who has this Bezugsrecht may be called "Bezugsberechtiger". That would be the benificiary. You may want to note that the term "Bezugsrecht" is also used in other fields, like stock markets or others.

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    I see no reason to switch to the term Bezugsrecht designating something different, when there are Begünstigter and Anspruchsberechtigter. – guidot Apr 9 at 12:34
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    Hmm - personally, i would prefer Begünstigter , too, but § 159 Versicherungsvertragsgesetz (VVG) explicitly uses Bezugsberechtigter and Bezugsberechtigung, respectively. – tohuwawohu Apr 9 at 13:00
  • Thank you so much @Henning Kockerbeck for this detailed answer ! And thank you also guidot and tohuwawahu for your additions ! – Sylvain Gadenne Apr 10 at 18:40

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