DOI Bruce Rauner Governor Anne Melissa Dowling, Acting Director

Homeowner's Insurance Definitions

Jan 2014

Disponible en Español

Note: This information was developed to provide consumers with general information and guidance about insurance coverages and laws. It is not intended to provide a formal, definitive description or interpretation of Department policy. For specific Department policy on any issue, regulated entities (insurance industry) and interested parties should contact the Department.

Listed below are some common homeowners insurance definitions.

Actual Cash Value
Replacement cost less depreciation, considering the age and condition of your property.
Additional Living Expenses
Pays expenses over and above your normal living costs (motel rooms, restaurant meals, and laundry service) while your home is being repaired or rebuilt after damage from an insured loss.
Agent
A representative who sells insurance for one or more companies.
Application
A signed request for insurance, giving information about the prospective policyholder
Appraisal
An evaluation of your property.
Binder
A temporary or preliminary agreement, which provides coverage until a policy can be written or delivered.
Broker
A licensed person or organization you can pay to shop for insurance on your behalf.
Builders Risk
Coverage for a home under construction. Claim payments are based on the percentage completed at time of loss. This coverage must be changed to a homeowners policy upon completion of the building.
Cancellation
Termination of a policy before its normal expiration date.
Claim
Your request for the insurance company to pay you an amount under the terms of your policy.
Claims Adjuster
A person an insurance company hires to settle claims. The adjuster could either be a company employee or under contract with the company.
Coinsurance Clause
An agreement with the insurance company in which you agree to carry insurance on your property in an amount equal to a certain percentage of its actual cash value.
Covered Expenses
The losses or conditions the policy will pay for.
Deductible
The dollar amount you must pay out-of-pocket for each claim before the insurance company begins paying.
Depreciation
Decrease in home or property value due to age or wear and tear.
Earthquake Insurance
A type of catastrophic coverage available for an additional premium to repair or replace your property/personal belongings when damaged by an earthquake. Standard home insurance policies do not cover earthquake insurance.
Endorsement
Amendment to the policy used to add, change, or delete coverage. Also referred to as a "rider."
Exclusions
Specific situations or circumstances listed in your policy describing when benefits will not be paid. Typical homeowners insurance exclusions are earthquake, sewer backup/sump pump failure, ordinance or law, and intentional loss.
Floater
Additional coverage for personal property such as jewelry, artwork, or antiques not otherwise included in the homeowners policy, or included for a nominal coverage amount. The coverage "floats" or moves with the property. Also called "Scheduled Personal Property Endorsement."
Flood Insurance
A type of catastrophic coverage available for an additional premium to repair or replace your property/personal belongings when damaged by rising water. Standard home insurance policies do not cover flood insurance. If your property is located on a flood plain, your lender may require you to purchase flood insurance.
Full Replacement Policy
A homeowners policy that pays the full replacement cost (up to the policy maximum) to repair or restore damaged property.
Guaranteed Replacement Cost Coverage
Endorsement that lets you replace your home without subtracting for depreciation, even if it costs more than the policy limit. Most companies limit the guaranteed replacement cost to 125%.
HO Forms
Homeowners insurance polices are sometimes referred to by the kind of form used and the specific perils they cover. Examples are HO2, HO3, HO4, HO5, HO6, and HO8.
Home Inventory
A detailed list of personal possessions and any information (including pictures or videos) that could help identify lost or destroyed items.
Illinois FAIR (Fair Access to Insurance Requirements) Plan
A not-for-profit property insurance association that offers insurance to individuals who have been refused coverage by at least three insurance companies.
Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund
A fund that pays an insurer's claims when the company is insolvent. All Illinois-licensed insurance companies belong to the Illinois Guaranty Fund.
Inflation Guard Endorsement
A special endorsement that increases the face amount of a homeowners policy on a regular basis to compensate for the increasing costs of home construction.
Inspection Report
A report filed by an individual employed by the insurance company or credit agency, giving general information on the physical condition of the property.
Insured
The policyholder or person(s) protected in case of a loss/claim.
Insurer
The insurance company.
Lapsed Policy
A policy that has terminated for non-payment of premiums.
Liability Coverage
Insurance protection that pays for claims or judgments brought against the insured.
Market Value
A real estate term for the current value of your home if you were to sell it. Market value includes the price of land, and is not generally used when settling insurance claims.
Mine Subsidence Insurance
Pays when an underground mine shifts, causing damage to your property. Insurance companies must offer mine subsidence insurance in counties where mines are under one percent or more of the land. Underground mines are common in central and southern Illinois, but other areas of the state may be affected as well. You must sign a rejection form to remove this coverage if you live in a county where mine subsidence insurance is required.
Non-Bound Application
There is no coverage involved and you pay no money. The insurance agent submits the application to the company to find out whether or not you will be accepted.
Non-renewal
A notice of the insurance company’s refusal to renew your policy prior to the end of the policy term.
Peril
Event causing damage to your property (for example: fire, tornado, theft, or vandalism).
Personal Property
Personal belongings such as furniture, appliances, clothes, jewelry, and bicycles.
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
Insurance that provides financial protection to your lender if you default on your mortgage payment. By purchasing PMI, a homebuyer may be able to obtain a mortgage with little or no down payment.
Policy
The contract form issued by the company to explain the coverage provided. It is a legal document.
Premium
The price charged for insurance.
Public Adjuster
A person you can hire to help settle a claim with an insurance company. A public adjuster may be hired to handle a complex or difficult loss negotiation. Generally, the public adjuster receives a percentage of the settlement reached. In Illinois, a public adjuster must be licensed with the Department of Insurance.
Real Property
Property considered to be immovable, such as land and things affixed to it.
Replacement Cost
A determination of the cost to replace contents, rebuild your home, or repair damages with materials of like kind and quality, without subtracting for depreciation.
Settlement
After negotiating, the amount you accept from the insurance company as full payment for your loss.
Sewer Back-up and Sump Pump Overflow Coverage
Coverage available for an additional premium to your homeowners insurance policy that pays for damage to your finished basement caused by water or waterborne material which backs up through a sewer, drain or overflow or is discharged from a sump pump overflow. Water seepage is not covered.
Title Insurance
Protection against any defect in the title to your property. Title insurance can be paid for by either the buyer or seller and is usually paid for when the home is purchased.
Umbrella Liability Insurance
A policy that "floats" above your other coverage. You must carry a certain amount of underlying liability coverage before you may buy an umbrella policy. This coverage kicks in if you are sued for an amount greater than the limits of your homeowners policy.
Watercraft Endorsement
Applies to small motorboats and sailboats and broadens your personal liability and medical payments coverage on them. If your watercraft exceeds a specified length, you will need a separate boat owners or yacht policy.

For More Information

Call our Consumer Assistance Hotline Toll Free at (866) 445-5364 or visit us on our website at http://insurance.illinois.gov