Glossary of home insurance terms

Confused about certain home insurance terms? Our glossary could help you to understand phrases you are unfamiliar with, as well as perhaps shedding some light on additional cover available with a home insurance policy.


A burglar alarm is a device that monitors your home and helps to protect against intruders. There are two main types: audible-only alarms and monitored alarms. Audible-only alarms produce a loud warning sound if triggered. Monitored alarms are linked to an external security company or the police and will notify them electronically if triggered.

Alternative accommodation

In the event that a home becomes uninhabitable due to an insured peril, this cover offers temporary accommodation.

Buildings insurance

An insurance policy that covers your property itself along with any permanent fixtures within it such as baths, sheds, fitted kitchens, drains, garden walls and radiators.

Business equipment

Any electronic office equipment that is used for business purposes and kept in your home. This can include computers, keyboards, visual display units, printers, word-processing equipment, desk-top publishing units, fax machines, photocopiers, typewriters, computer-aided design equipment and telephones.

Buildings accidental damage

Usually an optional extra that covers your home against non-deliberate damage, such as drilling into a pipe or cable.

Contents insurance

A policy that covers your non-permanent household goods against eventualities such as as fire, theft, storm or flood, vandalism or malicious acts, escape of water or subsidence.

Contents Accidental Damage

Usually an optional extra that covers your personal belongings and non-permanent fixtures and fittings against non-deliberate damage caused by you.

Compulsory excess

A set amount determined by your policy that you are responsible for paying in the event of a claim.

Household goods

Removable contents of your home, including personal possessions, non-permanent household goods, bicycles, furniture and money.

Home insurance

A general term that is used to describe contents and building insurance.

Escape of water

A result of burst / leaking pipes or faults in a plumbing system.


People that share your home, including your long term partner, husband or wife, civil partner, children, foster children and other permanent residents, but not lodgers or tenants.

Family legal protection

Cover against the cost of legal expenses and court proceedings if you or your family should be involved in any private legal disputes, including those related to property or employment. Family legal protection usually offers 24-hour legal advice and cover for your salary should you be called to jury service.

Home emergency cover

Usually an optional extra that covers emergency call outs and repairs for necessary services in your home such as electricity, plumbing, heating and locks.

Insurance premium tax (IPT)

A government tax that is included in the price of home insurance.


Annual protection against the cost of permanently losing your keys. It usually covers the replacement and reprogramming of all keys lost on the same key fob, including car keys.

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.


A mechanism that secures doors and windows. There are many different types of lock, and the type installed in your home may affect your policy.

Personal possessions

Items that you wear or carry with you outside your home. This can include valuables, jewellery, bicycles, sports kit and electronic equipment.

Period of insurance

The period shown in your schedule for which the policy will cover, so long as you keep up to date with premium payments.


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

Sum insured

The total amount that your building or contents is insured for.

Trace and Access

Can cover costs incurred whilst locating the source of escape of water, including repairs to walls, floors and ceilings.


Personal possessions that have particular value, including jewellery, watches, furs, precious metals, works of art and specialist collections.

Voluntary excess

An additional sum on top of the compulsory excess that you can volunteer to pay in the event of a claim. This is optional, but volunteering can lower the cost of your insurance premium.

It is worth enquiring if your existing insurance policy covers any of the above and always take the time to read and understand your policy fully.

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