27 June 2016

Don’t be stumped by home insurance jargon

Your home is probably the most precious thing you own; not only in terms of monetary value, but also as a place you and your family can feel safe.

Home insurance is designed to cover your most important asset, but choosing the right level of insurance can be bewildering. Here we explain some terms you may stumble on when doing your research.

Rebuild cost

It’s a common mistake to value your home at its sale price. It’s often more expensive to buy than to rebuild because house–hunters are prepared to pay a premium for a good location, for example to be close to a good school. The Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) offers a handy calculator to help you calculate this amount.

If your home is listed, made from non–standard materials, or has special architectural features, consider hiring a surveyor to value your rebuild costs.


An excess is the amount you pay towards your insurance claim. This is generally less than the sum paid by the insurer. The excess is agreed between you and your insurance company at the time you take out your policy.

Why would you volunteer to pay a bigger excess? Because, if agreed in advance with your insurer, it could bring down your premium. Remember that you would then be responsible for that amount in a claim scenario.

Loss adjuster

Sometimes claims can be less than straightforward, meaning your insurance company may choose to send an independent loss adjuster to establish the cause of loss or damage and report back.

Accidental damage

Anyone can be distracted and leave a tap running or otherwise damage their home. If you have small children, they too can innocently wreak chaos on your building and contents. Accidental damage cover is usually an optional extra for an additional premium and you may still need to pay an excess on making a claim.

Act of God

Act of God is not a literal reference. It’s a natural phenomenon which could not have been predicted, and therefore, not prevented.

This can include freak weather events such as floods, lightning and blizzards. It is recommended you check whether you live in an ‘at risk’ area – i.e. on a floodplain, and discuss this with your insurer to ensure you have the correct level of insurance.

Check out our guide to protecting yourself, and your home in stormy weather.

Emergency cover

Nobody wants a wasps’ nest just outside their child’s bedroom in summer, or a heating system failure in the depths of winter. This is where home emergency insurance can come in, which can often be an add–on that you have to pay an additional premium for.

Some insurance providers offer 24–hour home emergency helplines and will send a tradesman over in an emergency. This insurance is to provide corrective action to a problem which makes your home uninhabitable, or poses a threat to the structure. The insurance would not cover you for the day to day maintenance of your property. Emergency call outs do not normally affect your no claim bonus, speaking of which…

No claim discount

A no claim discount is a discount you could get if you hold a home insurance policy for a certain length of time without making any claims.

Single item limit

However high your contents cover there is likely be a limit on the amount you can claim for any one item. This is likely to vary depending on your policies level of cover and provider.

Get the right cover

Find out more about our home insurance, including our introductory offer of 20% off for new customers if you buy a new combined buildings and contents policy.

Discount does not apply to Home Emergency or Legal Assistance cover. Minimum premiums apply.

Nationwide home insurance is underwritten and administered by U K Insurance Limited.
As with all insurances, limits and exclusions apply, so it's really important to check what you are and are not covered for.

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