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“Aleatory” means that something is dependent on an uncertain event, a chance occurrence. Aleatory is used primarily as a descriptive term for insurance contracts. An aleatory contract is a contract where performance of the promise is dependent on the occurrence of a fortuitous event. In a typical aleatory contract, one party performs an absolute act. The full consideration for this act is the other party’s promise to perform an act if a fortuitous event occurs. 

For example:

A fire insurance company promises A that in consideration of A’s payment of a premium, it will pay A $20,000 if A’s house burns down by a fire caused by lightning. In this aleatory contract, the fire insurance company will not be liable if A’s house burned down by a fire caused by an overheated fireplace. 

[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team