Employee Benefits

What Does Policyholder Mean in the Insurance World?

3 min read
Oct 31, 2022

All insurance policies have a policyholder. A policyholder is the person who has purchased and owns an insurance policy. 

Simple, right? But don’t click away yet! There are a few more important details you need to know.

Who is the policyholder on an insurance policy?

If you purchased a policy from an insurance provider, that makes you the policyholder. But what exactly comes with the job?

For starters, as the policyholder, you’re responsible for paying the premium. This is the monthly cost the provider charges for their insurance policies. Your name is on the account, so you’ll be the one getting the bill. But that also means you have control over the policy. You’re the only one who can alter it by changing the beneficiaries or adding insured individuals, for example.

Policyholder vs. insured: Who is “the insured”?

“Insured” refers to anyone covered under an insurance policy. As the policyholder, you almost always fall into this category.

With many types of coverage, “insured” can also include your immediate family members. Spouses, children, and parents are often covered by default under auto insurance, renters insurance, and homeowners insurance. However, there are a few unique situations to be aware of: 

Life insurance: Often, the policyholder is also the insured. However, many people take out a life insurance policy to cover a loved one. For example, Alex may purchase a life insurance policy for his husband, Greg, who would be listed as the insured. As the policyholder, Alex would still retain control over the policy.

Auto insurance: A car insurance policy often covers the passengers in your vehicle while you’re driving. It won’t protect drivers who aren’t on the same policy. As the policyholder, you can add additional drivers (although, most providers will charge a fee per driver).

Renters insurance: Renters insurance typically only covers the policyholder and their immediate family living under the same roof. Roommates don’t count as insureds, meaning they would need to be added to the policy — likely for a fee — or purchase their own plans.

Homeowners insurance: If you own property with another person — say, your spouse — you can both be listed as the policyholder for homeowners insurance.

Who is the policyholder on group insurance plans?

If you enroll in insurance through your employer, your employer may be considered the ultimate policyholder, while you are the "insured."

Policyholder vs. insurance subscriber

An insurance subscriber is more or less the same as a policyholder. Insurance subscribers are the ones paying for the policy's premiums, or the person whose employer provides the policy as a benefit. You’ll often see “subscriber” used on insurance cards.

Policyholder vs. beneficiary

A beneficiary is an individual who receives the death benefit of a life insurance policy. They may or may not also be the policyholder. A single life insurance policy can have multiple beneficiaries — but only one policyholder.

Referring to our previous example, Alex would be both the policyholder and beneficiary of Greg’s life insurance. Alex could add more beneficiaries, such as their child Abbot.

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This article is intended to provide general information about insurance. It does not describe any Metropolitan Life Insurance company product or feature.