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Reimbursement vs. Indemnity: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Updated on March 4, 2024
Reimbursement involves compensating for expenses already incurred, while indemnity refers to protection or compensation against loss or damages, including potential legal liabilities.

Key Differences

Reimbursement and indemnity are two concepts often encountered in financial transactions, insurance, and legal agreements, each serving a specific purpose in the context of compensation and protection.
Reimbursement is the process of repaying someone for money they have spent or costs they have incurred. It is commonly used in business and insurance settings, where individuals or entities receive compensation for out-of-pocket expenses. Indemnity, on the other hand, is a broader concept that involves compensating for loss or damage but also includes legal protection against claims or lawsuits. Indemnity agreements or clauses are often included in contracts to shield one party from financial loss or legal liability that may arise from the actions of another party.
While reimbursement directly addresses actual expenses or losses after they have occurred, indemnity provides a safeguard against a wider range of potential financial and legal liabilities. Indemnity may include reimbursement as part of the compensation for losses, but it also extends to covering legal liabilities and other forms of loss not strictly limited to out-of-pocket expenses.

Comparison Chart


Compensation for expenses already incurred.
Protection or compensation against losses, including legal liabilities.


Limited to the repayment of specific expenses.
Broader, covering potential losses and legal liabilities.

Common Use

Business expenses, insurance claims.
Contracts, insurance policies for broader coverage.

Legal Protection

Primarily financial compensation.
Includes legal defense and compensation for damages.


Employee travel expenses, medical bills.
Legal costs in lawsuits, property damage under insurance policies.

Reimbursement and Indemnity Definitions


Paying back for expenses.
The company's policy ensures reimbursement for business-related travel.


Can encompass reimbursement.
The indemnity policy reimburses losses and covers associated legal costs.


Financial compensation without legal liabilities.
Reimbursement for conference fees is available upon request.


In contracts to shift liability.
The subcontractor agreement includes an indemnity provision for workplace accidents.


Employee benefits.
Employees receive mileage reimbursement at the federal rate.


Broad insurance policies.
Homeowner's insurance provides indemnity against fire and theft.


In insurance, covering specific costs incurred.
The health plan offers reimbursement for prescription drugs.


Protection against loss or damage.
The indemnity clause in the contract protects against third-party claims.


Tied to actual expenses.
Submit receipts for reimbursement of your office setup costs.


Security against damage, loss, or injury.


To repay (money spent); refund.


An exemption from liability for damages resulting from specified conduct, as in a contract indemnifying a party for the performance of certain actions.


To pay back or compensate (another party) for money spent or losses incurred.


Compensation for damage, loss, or injury suffered.


The act of compensating someone for an expense.


Security from damage, loss, or penalty.


The act reimbursing.


(legal) An obligation or duty upon an individual to incur the losses of another.


Compensation paid (to someone) for damages or losses or money already spent etc.;
He received reimbursement for his travel expenses


Repayment; compensation for loss or injury.


(legal) The right of an injured party to shift the loss onto the party responsible for the loss.


(insurance) A principle of insurance which provides that when a loss occurs, the insured should be restored to the approximate financial condition occupied before the loss occurred, no better, no worse.


Security; insurance; exemption from loss or damage, past or to come; immunity from penalty, or the punishment of past offenses; amnesty.
Having first obtained a promise of indemnity for the riot they had committed.


Indemnification, compensation, or remuneration for loss, damage, or injury sustained.
They were told to expect, upon the fall of Walpole, a large and lucrative indemnity for their pretended wrongs.


Protection against future loss


Legal exemption from liability for damages


A sum of money paid in compensation for loss or injury


Legal and financial coverage.
Professional indemnity insurance covers legal expenses and settlements.


Can indemnity include reimbursement?

Yes, indemnity can include reimbursement as part of compensating for losses, in addition to providing protection against legal claims.

Is reimbursement always monetary?

While reimbursement typically involves monetary compensation, it can also include credit or other forms of financial payback for incurred expenses.

What distinguishes indemnity insurance from other insurance types?

Indemnity insurance specifically focuses on compensating for losses and covering legal liabilities, distinguishing it from insurance types that may offer limited or specified coverage without liability protection.

What is a common example of an indemnity agreement?

A common example is a service contract where the service provider agrees to indemnify the client against losses or damages arising from the provided services.

How do businesses typically handle reimbursement?

Businesses often have specific policies outlining eligible expenses, required documentation, and processes for employees or partners to claim reimbursement.

How does reimbursement work in health insurance?

In health insurance, reimbursement typically involves the policyholder paying upfront for medical services and then submitting claims to the insurance company to get repaid for covered expenses.

How does indemnity work in insurance?

In insurance, indemnity policies compensate the insured for damages or losses sustained, and may also cover legal expenses related to claims against the insured.

Why is indemnity important in contracts?

Indemnity is crucial in contracts to manage risk by legally defining who bears the financial responsibility for potential losses or damages, ensuring parties are protected against unforeseen liabilities.

What is the role of indemnity in professional services?

Indemnity in professional services protects providers (e.g., consultants, lawyers) from financial losses and legal liabilities resulting from their work, ensuring they can compensate clients without bearing the entire financial burden themselves.

Can an individual seek both reimbursement and indemnity?

Yes, individuals can seek reimbursement for specific incurred expenses while also being covered under an indemnity agreement or policy for broader protection against losses and liabilities.

How do tax implications differ between reimbursement and indemnity payments?

Tax implications can vary; reimbursements for business expenses are typically not taxable income if they comply with IRS guidelines, whereas indemnity payments might have different tax treatments depending on the nature of the compensation.

How do companies recover costs under indemnity clauses?

Companies recover costs by making a claim under the indemnity clause, which may involve legal action or negotiation with the indemnifying party to cover the agreed-upon losses or damages.

How does one claim reimbursement for business expenses?

To claim reimbursement for business expenses, individuals typically submit expense reports along with receipts or proof of expenditure to their employer, following the company's policies on eligible expenses and approval processes.

What factors influence the cost of indemnity insurance?

Factors influencing the cost include the nature of the activities covered, the risk level associated with the profession or services, claims history, and the coverage limits of the policy.

Are there limitations to what indemnity can cover?

Yes, indemnity agreements and insurance policies have limitations and exclusions, detailing specific scenarios and types of losses that are not covered under the agreement.

What distinguishes a reimbursement policy from a cashless policy in insurance?

A reimbursement policy requires policyholders to pay expenses upfront and claim them later, whereas a cashless policy allows for direct billing between the insurer and the service provider, eliminating the need for upfront payment by the insured.

Can indemnity clauses be negotiated in contracts?

Yes, indemnity clauses are often subjects of negotiation in contracts, with parties discussing the scope, limitations, and obligations to balance risk and protection.

In what scenarios might an indemnity claim be denied?

An indemnity claim might be denied if the claim falls under policy exclusions, lacks proper documentation, involves fraudulent activity, or if the event causing the loss is not covered by the policy terms.

What legal protections does indemnity offer to individuals wrongly accused of causing harm?

Indemnity offers legal protections by covering the costs of defense and any subsequent settlements or judgments, ensuring that individuals wrongly accused have financial support for their legal defense.

How should one choose between different indemnity insurance providers?

When choosing between indemnity insurance providers, consider factors such as coverage scope, premium costs, exclusions, the insurer's financial stability, customer service reputation, and claims processing efficiency.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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