Policyholder is not defined in the taxes acts. There is a
definition in regulatory legislation, but this extends the
definition somewhat beyond the strict meaning in order to protect
the interests of policy beneficiaries. A good working definition
for tax purposes is “any person other than the insurer
currently party to an insurance policy or contract and entitled to
enforce the insurer’s obligations to provide benefits
This definition for tax purposes emphasises the point that the policyholder is the legal owner of the policy, who may be different from the person who stands to receive payment or benefits.
In the case of a life policy, the person whose life is insured may be different from both the policyholder, namely the legal owner, insured or assured; and the beneficiary. Care is needed in using these terms, as they are sometimes applied loosely. Thus there may be a difference between the ‘assured’, who is the policyholder, and the ‘life assured’, meaning the person on whose life the insurance must be contingent to qualify as a life policy.
Lord Donaldson reviewed the question of who is a policyholder in the case of Scher and others v Policyholders Protection Board and others  3 All ER 384. His judgment makes clear that, for non-life insurance policies the definition may be wider but on the authority of section 96(1) Insurance Companies Act 1982 for a life or capital redemption policy it is the legal holder, as described above.
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