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Home Insurance

Home insurance

Home insurance glossary

We know that home insurance terminology and lengthy policy documents can be a little confusing – maybe a little boring. But they are important and you need to read and understand them.

We’re not encouraging laziness, but we’ve put together a handy glossary of home insurance terms, just for you. Take a look and understand all the home insurance jargon.

Accidental damage

This is damage to your home or contents that happens unexpectedly, either by chance or as the result of an accident.

You can add enhanced accidental damage cover to both your buildings and contents insurance to cover any mishaps or unexpected events. This could be anything from damaging a pipe while hanging a picture frame to spilling paint on a carpet.


A burglar alarm is a device that monitors your home and helps to protect against intruders.

Alternative accommodation

Somewhere for you to you live while your home is uninhabitable due to something you’ve claimed for, such as flood or fire damage.

Approved supplier

A supplier that your insurer has approved and authorised to give a quote, repair, reinstate or replace the insured buildings and/or its contents.


The structure of your home, including walls, floor, roof and doors. It also refers to your permanent fixtures and fittings, like the bathroom suite and outbuildings such as sheds.

Buildings accidental damage

Additional insurance that helps cover the cost of non-deliberate damage to your home, such as drilling into a cable or putting your foot through the attic floor. At Sainsbury’s Bank we include some accidental damage cover as standard. You can also add enhanced cover at an extra cost for added peace of mind.

Buildings insurance

An insurance policy that covers your property and garden along with any permanent fixtures such as baths, radiators, fitted kitchens, drains, garden walls and sheds. See what our buildings insurance policy offers.

Business equipment

This covers any computers and equipment stored at home (excluding electronically stored data) that you or your family use to run a business.


This refers to ending your insurance policy. You could be charged if you cancel your policy before its renewal date - check your policy documents for details.


A claim is an enquiry you make about an incident requiring a payout on either your buildings or contents insurance.

Combined buildings and contents insurance

Combined buildings and contents insurance is cover for both your property and the possessions within it.

Compulsory excess

A set amount you’ll have to pay if you make a claim on your policy. The amount of your excess is determined by your insurer.


Contents are your household items and personal possessions. They’re things you’d take with you if you move house, such as furniture and personal items.

Contents accidental damage

An optional extra that covers your contents and non-permanent fixtures and fittings against non-deliberate damage. Accidental damage insurance from Sainsbury’s Bank includes some cover as standard. You can also add enhanced accidental damage cover for an additional cost.

Contents insurance

A policy that covers your non-fixed household goods. It helps cover the cost of replacing your belongings in the event of fire, theft, storm or flood, vandalism or malicious acts, escape of water or subsidence. Find out what contents insurance includes.

Escape of water

This refers to water that has leaked from the main water supply and the damage caused by it. It’s often the result of burst or leaking pipes, faults in a plumbing system or water leaking from a washing machine.


When you make a claim on your policy, you’ll have to pay a certain amount of money towards it (an excess). There are two kinds of excess, compulsory, which is set by your insurer and voluntary, which you select.


People that share your home, including your long-term partner, husband or wife, civil partner, children, foster children and other relatives who live with you permanently. It doesn’t include lodgers or tenants.

Family legal protection

Protection against the cost of legal expenses and court proceedings if you or your family should be involved in any private legal disputes. This includes those related to property or employment. Family legal protection usually offers 24-hour legal advice.

Fixtures and fittings

These are usually items that are fixed to your walls or floors that you wouldn't take with you if you move house. It includes things like kitchens, radiators, light fittings, fixed glass and built-in furniture.


The upward or sideways movement of the ground beneath your house due to the soil expanding or swelling.

High risk items

Items that are commonly stolen from properties, including laptops, jewellery and antiques.

Home emergency cover

An optional extra that covers emergency callouts and repairs for unexpected issues in your home. This includes events like electricity failures and plumbing emergencies.

Home insurance

A general term used to describe contents and buildings insurance.

Household goods

These are the removable contents of your home, including personal possessions, household goods, bicycles, furniture and money.

Insurance premium

This is the total amount you will pay for your insurance policy and the amount you’ll be quoted at renewal. The cost includes insurance premium tax (IPT). This is a government tax that’s included in the price of home insurance. The standard rate is currently set at 12%.

Key care cover

This is an optional extra which covers you for the cost of permanently losing your keys. It covers the replacement of all keys lost, including car keys.


The downward movement of the ground around your property. It can be caused by soil or rock slip due to excessive rain.


There are many different types of locks, and the type installed in your home may affect your policy.

Loss adjuster

An independent professional normally appointed by the insurer for larger, more complex claims like a fire or burglary.

Loss assessor

An independent professional that can be employed by you to act as an advocate between you and your insurer in the event of a claim.

No claims discount (NCD)

This is a discount you get on your policy if you don’t make a claim. Your NCD can increase in size if you don’t make a claim for multiple years in a row.


Buildings which aren’t attached to the main house but are included as part of your policy. These can include sheds, greenhouses and summer houses.

Period of insurance

The length of time your policy covers you for as long as you keep up to date with premium payments. This is shown in your schedule and is usually 12 months.

Personal possessions

This refers to items that you wear or carry with you outside your home. This can include jewellery, bicycles, sports kit and electronic equipment. Sainsburys Bank offers personal possessions cover. This is an optional extra you can add to your policy for an additional cost to cover your belongings both inside and outside of your property.


This is the name of the person who is responsible for the insurance policy. This name will appear on the Schedule of Insurance.

Religious festival

A time of special importance or significance for a religion.


Your renewal date is the point at which your existing policy expires and the time you will be invited to renew your insurance for another year.

Statement of fact

You will receive this form when you buy an insurance policy. It will contain all of the information you’ve given your insurer about your house. It’s important to make sure the information is correct. Please contact us immediately if it’s not.


The downward movement of the ground on which a building stands.

Sum insured

This is the total amount that your buildings or contents are insured for. That means the maximum amount you could claim for if you experience total loss, for example if your house burned down. The sum insured is the most your insurer will pay out.

Trace and access

This is cover for costs incurred while locating the source of escape of water. Trace and access cover include repairs to walls, floors and ceilings if necessary.


A house is considered unfurnished when it’s left without furniture or contents for an extended period, usually 60 days or more.


This term refers to a property which is not lived in by you or your family for more than 60 consecutive days.


Your personal possessions of value. This includes jewellery, watches, precious metals, works of art or special collections. Find out what we define as ‘valuable’ with our handy guide.


Any animal or insect that causes loss or damage to your property and/or belongings. Pests can include rats, mice, squirrels, pigeons, foxes, bees and wasps.

Voluntary excess

An additional sum on top of your compulsory excess that you can volunteer to pay in the event of a claim. It can lower the cost of your home insurance premium.

Wear and tear

Normal deterioration of your home or belongings over a period of time.

Find out more

Want to find out more about your home insurance terms? Check out our frequently asked questions for answers to the most common issues.

Helpful guides

For hints and tips on all things home insurance, check out our guides.

Find the right policy for you

Buildings cover

Our buildings insurance helps protect your property and the structure of your home, from windows and doors to the roof and permanent fittings

Contents cover

Contents insurance can help cover your furniture, family heirlooms and gadgets, minimising the cost of replacing items that are lost, stolen or damaged

Buildings and contents cover

Combined buildings and contents insurance can help secure both your house and your belongings

Helpful guides

For hints and tips on all things home insurance, check out our guides.