Why would Prepaid Insurance have a credit balance?

Definition of Prepaid Insurance

Generally, Prepaid Insurance is a current asset account that has a debit balance. The debit balance indicates the amount that remains prepaid as of the date of the balance sheet. As time passes, the debit balance decreases as adjusting entries credit the account Prepaid Insurance and debit Insurance Expense.

Example of a Credit Balance in Prepaid Insurance

Assume that a company's annual premium on its liability insurance policy is $2,400 and is due on the first day of each year. Also assume that the company prepares monthly financial statements. When the $2,400 payment is made on January 1, the company debits Prepaid Insurance and credits Cash. It also sets up automatic monthly adjusting entries to debit Insurance Expense for $200 and to credit Prepaid Insurance for $200 on the last day of each month.

On July 1, the company receives a premium refund of $120 from the insurance company. The company records the refund with a debit to Cash and a credit to Prepaid Insurance. The recurring monthly adjusting entries are not changed. At December 31, the balance in Prepaid Insurance will be a credit balance of $120, consisting of the debit of $2,400 on January 1, the 12 monthly credits of $200 each, and the $120 credit on July 1. Prior to issuing the December 31 financial statements, the company must remove the $120 credit balance in Prepaid Insurance by debiting Prepaid Insurance and crediting Insurance Expense.

Since adjusting entries involve a balance sheet account and an income statement account, it is wise to monitor the balances in both Prepaid Insurance and Insurance Expense throughout the year. The amount that has not yet expired should be the balance in Prepaid Insurance. The amount that has expired should be reported as Insurance Expense.

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