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Monday, 18 July 2011

Stuart's Daily Word Spot: Ensure, insure or assure?

Ensure, insure or assure?
Ensure: verb - to make sure, safe, or certain; guarantee
Insure: verb - to obtain or provide insurance on or for; to make certain by taking necessary measures and precautions; to contract to give or take insurance, ensure
Assure: verb - to make safe from risks or against overthrow; insure; to give confidence to; to make sure or certain; convince; to inform positively; to make certain the coming or attainment of; guarantee; ensure
It is probably pedantic to be too concerned about the sometimes subtle difference between these three words that are often interchangeable. As is so often the case, it comes down to context. It would be unusual to use ‘assure’ in a financial context (though the industry often does this). And ‘ensure’ isn’t used in the financial context at all.
Probably, the best way to think of the general use of these terms is to think of ‘ensure’ in terms of a guarantee, ‘insure’ in the sense of ‘indemnify’, and ‘assure’ as a synonym of ‘comfort’ or ‘convince’.
So, we all ‘ensure’ the safety of our children, ‘insure’ our houses and cars against disasters and accidents, and ‘assure’ our friends and loved ones of our loyalty and love. Hope this helps.

Picture: Oxlands Dale, near Huggate, East Yorkshire.
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