home insurance

The Definitive Guide to Home Insurance Jargon

If you are looking for home insurance you might be confused about all the terminology. This guide will help you learn the language to help you make all the right choices to properly protect your home.

Accidental Building Damage

Unlike buildings insurance, this is damage caused by you to your home. Some examples are broken glass, door or bathroom damage. This is additional cover not included in basic insurance policies.

Accidental Contents Damage

This is like accidental building damage, but it covers the contents of your home (appliances, furniture, etc…) and any damage you might do to the contents. This is also added cover not included in basic policies.

Bedroom Rated

Instead of calculating the rebuilding costs of your home, the coverage amount is based on the number of bedrooms in your home.

Buildings Insurance

This is another name for home insurance. This covers a situation where you would need a complete re-build of your house, like in the event of a natural disaster or severe vandalism. The damage covered is damage that is not caused by you. Mortgage lenders will require this type of cover. The amount of cover can be determined by sum insured or bedroom rated methods.

Construction Type

This indicates the material that was used to build the walls of your home. It could be concrete, brick, wood or a combination of materials. There’s some information here to help you work out your home’s construction type.

Contents Insurance

This insures all the contents in your home that are not fixed to the property. This is cover against damage not caused by you. The items could include furniture, electronics, appliances, clothing, musical instruments and jewelry.

Continuous Authority

This is where you give your insurance provider the authority to renew your insurance policy every year with no changes in the payment method. Although this makes renewal easy, it’s not the best way to ensure you get a good deal. You’ll get much better value by shopping around for a new policy each year. Use a site like to compare policies.


Any change in the terms and/or conditions of your home insurance policy. Your total cover might even change.


Insurance against flooding might be hard to get in high risk areas. If there are local efforts to reduce flooding, your insurer might be obligated by local government agreement to provide coverage. Find out more about flood coverage at the Environment Agency’s website.

Home Emergency

If you suddenly have a burst pipe or other emergency, this added cover will pay for a tradesman to come and do repairs. This is applicable to any time of the day, 24 hours. The cash limit is usually around £500.

Insurance Excess

This is the amount you give up on any insurance claim. For example, if your home suffers £300 of damage and your excess is £100, your insurance company will write you a cheque for £200. The higher the excess, the less you get on any claim. However, higher excess also means lower premiums.

Legal Expenses

If someone gets hurt on your property you could get sued for damages. This insurance covers any legal fees in this type of lawsuit.

Legal Interests

This is a person or party that has a financial interest in your home. In most cases this is a mortgage provider.

Listed or Historical

These are homes or buildings of special historical importance. Lists for your area are available at your local council planning department, or you can search on British Listed Buildings.

Payment Day

If you use direct debit, you pay your premium on this day.


The total amount you pay for insurance, add-ons, and taxes. This can be paid monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or annually.


The amount you can expect to pay overall for home insurance. You can shop around among different companies and compare quotes.

Roof Type

This highlights if your roof is thatched, slate or tile. All other roofs are considered standard.


This is damage that can happen to your home due to unstable soil. This can cause parts of your house to sink, and the house walls could begin to crack or ripple. Read more about subsidence in this guide.

Sum Insured

This calculates cover based on the estimated rebuilding cost of your home. The Association of British Insurers can help you calculate these costs. This amount is not the same as the sale price of your home.


This shows all the details of your home insurance policy. It usually contains information like coverage amount, pay dates and endorsements. Your insurance company may also provide information about planned increases in premiums.

Insurance Premium Tax

This is an obligatory government tax and is usually included in any insurance quote price.

home insurance

Home Insurance for Home Improvement

When you look at how much it costs to get a tradesman out just to look at a problem, you can be forgiven for deciding to embark upon your own DIY quest. But the cost of a professional is actually a very good reason to re-assess your home-insurance (in-case it all goes wrong).

In order for your insurance to pay-out on potential DIY disasters, you’ll need “accidental damages” cover. This could add up to 25% to your premium but it’s less than the thousands you might spend on setting the damages right with a decorator.

It’s easy to make a mistake. Maybe you’re putting up some new shelves so you decide to drill a hole in your wall? But you forget that on the other side of that wall is your bathroom and shower fixture. Suddenly a simple shelving addition has become a mess of electrics and water – what do you do?

You’re not going to let your wall fill up with water, that’s for sure. At this point you’re either covered or you’re not and if you don’t have the expertise to deal with the problem – it’s going to cost you a pretty penny!

Trying to contain the water and electrics, you could easily end up in a situation like this:


We’re pretty sure you don’t want that. So in the interests of health, finance and property-aesthetics here are some tips to make sure you’re DIY-covered:

  • Ensure you have cover for accidental damages.
  • Ensure that your cover for accidental damages covers all family members.
  • Check the level of your accidental damage cover. Some policies will cover a wine-stain but not much else.
  • Check the caveats of your cover for accidental damages. Some insurers may not see a ‘pre-meditated’ DIY attempt as an accident. Be clear on the terms.

As always be wary of contracts with too many caveats and conditions. All insurance contracts should be well-written, clear and concise.

John Lewis currently have some great deals on home insurance. Check them out and enquire about accidental damages cover; you won’t regret it.