Differentiating Peril and Hazard in Insurance

Differentiate between peril and hazard in insurance terminology, understanding their roles and distinctions.

In the context of insurance, "peril" and "hazard" are distinct but related concepts, each playing a significant role in the assessment of risk and the determination of insurance premiums. Let's differentiate between peril and hazard in insurance:


  1. Definition: A peril is a specific event or cause that can lead to a loss or damage. It represents the actual source of danger or risk that triggers an insurance claim. Perils can be natural (e.g., earthquakes, floods, hurricanes) or man-made (e.g., fires, theft, vandalism).

  2. Role in Insurance: Insurance policies typically specify the perils they cover. When you purchase insurance, you are essentially seeking protection against specific perils. For example, a homeowner's insurance policy may cover perils like fire, theft, and windstorm, while excluding others like earthquakes.

  3. Exclusions and Inclusions: Insurance policies often include a section that lists the perils that are covered (inclusions) and those that are not covered (exclusions). Perils excluded from coverage may require separate or additional insurance policies.


  1. Definition: A hazard is a condition, situation, or circumstance that increases the likelihood or severity of a loss resulting from a peril. Hazards are conditions that make a particular peril more likely to occur or that exacerbate the consequences when it does occur.

  2. Types of Hazards:

    • Physical Hazard: These are physical characteristics that increase the risk of loss. For example, a damaged roof can be a physical hazard that increases the risk of water damage during a rainstorm.
    • Moral Hazard: Moral hazards refer to behaviors or actions that increase the likelihood of a loss. For instance, intentionally causing a car accident to collect an insurance payout is an example of moral hazard.
    • Morale Hazard: Morale hazards are characterized by a careless or indifferent attitude toward risk because one is insured. For example, a person might take fewer precautions when insuring their belongings because they know they can file a claim if something happens.
  3. Role in Insurance: Hazards are considered when insurers assess risk. They help insurers determine appropriate premiums and underwriting guidelines. High-risk hazards may result in higher premiums or even denial of coverage.

Relationship:Perils and hazards are interrelated. A peril can be exacerbated by the presence of certain hazards. For example, a fire (peril) can be made more severe if there are physical hazards like flammable materials in a building or if a person has a moral hazard, such as arson for insurance fraud.

In summary, perils are the specific events or causes of loss that insurance policies cover or exclude, while hazards are conditions or situations that increase the risk associated with a peril. Insurers carefully consider both perils and hazards when underwriting policies and setting premiums to assess and manage the risk associated with providing coverage.

Peril vs. Hazard: What's the Difference?.

In the context of insurance, a peril is a cause of loss, while a hazard is a condition that increases the likelihood of a peril occurring.

In other words, a peril is the "what" that can cause a loss, while a hazard is the "why" that increases the likelihood of a loss occurring.

For example, fire is a peril that can cause a loss to a property. However, a number of hazards can increase the likelihood of a fire occurring, such as:

  • Faulty wiring
  • Flammable materials
  • Smoking
  • Arson

By identifying and mitigating hazards, insurance companies can help to reduce the risk of perils occurring.

Here are some other examples of perils and hazards:

WindstormLoose shingles, trees near power lines
EarthquakeUnreinforced masonry construction, liquefaction-prone soil
FloodLiving in a flood zone, inadequate drainage
TheftUnlocked doors and windows, valuables in plain sight

It is important to note that not all hazards will result in a loss. However, by taking steps to mitigate hazards, you can reduce the risk of a loss occurring.

If you have any questions about perils or hazards, you should speak with your insurance agent or broker.