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Insurance Terms

Jargon Buster

We've provided simple definitions for industry jargon.

Insurance terms – top 20


Your assets are the goods that you own, including your property, car, household goods such as furniture or jewellery, cash, savings, investments, land or anything that has a tangible value.

Buildings insurance

A policy which pays the cost of rebuilding or repairing your house, fixtures and fittings within the boundaries of your home if they are damaged or destroyed. Mortgage lenders normally require that the home owner maintains a buildings insurance policy. Buildings insurance can usually be combined with contents insurance which would offer additional cover for your personal possessions within your home.

Car insurance

Car insurance policies are generally either comprehensive, third party & theft, or third party only. Third party is the minimum cover required by law in the UK, while comprehensive gives you much wider coverage in the event of an accident or theft. Third party fire & theft provides cover in addition to the legal minimum for the theft or loss of the vehicle due to fire. Whichever option you choose, we’ll help save you money and hassle by searching for the best price from a panel of leading insurers.

Comprehensive insurance

A policy that covers a wide range of possible claims. This term is used most frequently with motor insurance although it can be used for other policies. As well as basic third-party insurance, comprehensive car insurance would normally cover repairs, replacements, fire and theft, personal injury, replacement locks and other losses. It is not legally compulsory but it is definitely worth considering.

Contents insurance

Your home’s contents are usually defined as your possessions that would normally be kept at the place you live and would be taken with you if you were to move. Examples would include furniture, televisions, computers, clothes or household goods. In commercial insurance this is extended to cover property that is moveable, such as stock or machinery but excluding cars, trucks, boats or crops. Contents insurance can be taken out on its own, which is useful if you are renting your home or if you live in a flat, or it can be added to buildings insurance in a combined home insurance policy.


The amount of an insurance claim that will be paid by you and is normally subtracted from the claim amount by your insurer. For example if your mobile phone is stolen and a replacement costs £250 and your excess is £100, your insurer will pay you £150. A standard or minimum excess applies to most types of insurance policy and aims to reduce the cost of cover by limiting claims for small amounts. You could be able to specify a higher excess, known as a voluntary excess, in order to reduce your premium further.

Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

A government body that you can contact if you are unhappy with any financial product, including your insurance policy. Normally the FOS will only consider your complaint if you have already tried to resolve the problem with your bank, building society or insurance company first.


In insurance terms, this refers to claimants making a false statement to the insurance company or by making a claim for a fictional loss. This is a serious criminal offence and if it is proven insurance companies will not pay any benefit and may take legal action and refuse to offer cover in the future.

Health Insurance

Health Insurance is the generic name given to a range of products which look to provide you with access to treatment – or a regular income in the case of a long-term illness – if you are ill or need treatment to an injury.

Home Emergency Cover

Additional home insurance that covers emergency repairs for services in your house that you rely on such as electricity, plumbing and heating.

Home insurance

Home insurance comes in two forms: contents insurance and buildings insurance. Contents insurance covers property in your home that is not attached to the building while buildings insurance covers the property itself: the roof, walls, windows and so on. Buildings insurance usually covers your house, fixtures and fittings within the boundaries of your home.

Life insurance/assurance

An insurance policy which, in return for regular payments, pays a lump sum on the death of the insured. Some policies, including those provided by Barclays, may also pay out on diagnosis of a terminal illness.

Legal Expenses Cover

Insurance against any fees you might incur for consulting or hiring a lawyer, or other expenses from legal proceedings. This is usually offered as an optional cover, but may be included in your basic policy. Legal expenses cover is frequently offered with home or motor insurance.

Listed building

The Government protects some buildings from alterations, extension or demolition if they are historic or of cultural importance, unless permission is obtained from the local planning authority. If your home is listed this will raise the costs of your home insurance.

Multi Trip Travel Insurance

If you travel several times in the year, a multi-trip annual policy could be a better value option than single trip travel insurance. You’ll be protected all year round for medical emergencies, personal accident, personal liability and lost baggage.


The terms upon which cover is offered by your insurance company. Your policy documentation should clearly state how much your premium is and how often you should pay it, your excess amount, the terms under which you can claim, how long the cover lasts and any other conditions, endorsements or exclusions.


The payment(s) that you make in return for your insurance cover. This may be paid as a lump sum up front or in monthly instalments, depending on the policy. Single trip travel insurance, for example, is generally paid in full but your home or motor insurance may give you the choice. With regular payments, failure to continue to pay the premium may result in your policy being cancelled.

Single Trip Travel Insurance

If you don’t travel that often or if you like to save all your energies for one big trip every year, single trip travel insurance may be a worthwhile option. These policies protect you against medical emergencies, cancellation, personal accident, personal liability and lost baggage.

Student possessions insurance

A low-cost policy that covers your property, while you are away at college or university. Barclays Student Possessions Insurance can be extended to cover your bicycles and computers as well.

Voluntary excess

You may be able to specify a higher excess, known as a voluntary excess, in order to reduce your premium. The excess is the amount of an insurance claim that will be paid by you and is normally subtracted from the claim amount by your insurer.