Glossary of Home and Contents Insurance Terms & Definitions

1 July 2015

Important Notes

These are a general explanation of the meaning of terms used in relation to (product name).

Policy wording may use different terms and you should read the terms and conditions of the relevant policy to understand the inclusions and exclusions of that policy. You cannot rely on these terms to the part of any policy you may purchase.

Refer to the product disclosure statement and Canstar’s FSG.

The accidental breakage of glass contents or glass forming part of contents. Glass contents may include such things as light fittings, glass in furniture and mirrors. It does not usually mean glass in televisions or VDU’s or small glass items such as crystal and ornaments.

For these items, new for old cover means that if the item cannot be replaced or repaired under the new for old specifications, your insurer will pay you what it would have cost to buy the item immediately before the loss or damage occurred, but your insurer will not pay more than the sum insured for that item.

The amount it would cost you to totally rebuild your home at today’s prices, including any home improvements you have made.

The Certificate of Insurance is given to you by your insurer for each period of insurance. It is an important document as it shows the cover you have chosen and other policy details.

‘Contents’ means your unfixed household goods and valuables and personal effects that you own including:

  • carpets – fixed and unfixed, internal blinds and curtains
  • furniture and furnishings
  • electrical appliances such as TVs, stereos, computers, washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, portable heaters, plug-in lamps
  • wheelchairs and medical equipment
  • household tools and gardening equipment including ride-on mowers
  • firearms legally registered and stored
  • plants in pots
  • portable and above-ground swimming pools and spas in a temporary site and their accessories
  • surfboards, sailboards, canoes, kayaks and non-motorised surf skis
  • remote-control, model or toy: motor vehicles; aircraft (with a wingspan up to 1.5 metres); watercraft
  • items that you are legally responsible for under a written contract (but not a rental agreement).

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  • If you insure contents in a unit, contents includes fixtures and fittings in the unit which are not legally part of the unit building for insurance purposes such as:
  • light fittings, wall paint, wall paper, wall coverings, floor coverings, eg floating floors, lino etc, a heater or airconditioning unit that you own.
  • Make sure your Contents sum insured includes these fittings.

Contents you own in your caravan or annexe or garden shed or annexe (located on the site of the insured, unregistered on-site caravan) that are not fixtures or fittings and are described on your certificate of insurance. Contents do not include:

  • food and beverages
  • money, negotiable documents, cheques, credit cards, financial transaction cards, stamps, title deeds, passports, uncut gems or stones
  • any collections or memorabilia
  • mobile phones
  • information stored electronically or any other way
  • animals or plants
  • musical instruments
  • items used for business purposes
  • motor vehicles, bikes and scooters (motorised or not), hang gliders, aircraft, aerial devices and their equipment
  • watercraft, including surfboards, surf or water skis, sailboards and accessories.

You have a Duty of Disclosure to tell your insurer everything you know or should know that is relevant to the insurer’s decision to insure anyone under the policy, including you, and on what terms.

This includes matters they specifically ask about when you apply for a policy, or renew or alter your policy, and any other matters which might affect whether your insurer insures you and on what terms.

The information you tell them can affect:

  • the amount of your premium
  • if your insurer will insure you
  • if special conditions will apply to your policy.

You do not need to tell them anything which:

  • reduces the chances of you making a claim or
  • they should know about because of the business they are in, or
  • they tell you they do not want to know.

If you are unsure, it is better to tell your insurer. If you do not tell your insurer something which may be relevant, it could result in a claim being reduced or refused or even the cancellation of your policy. If fraud is involved in this non-disclosure your insurer can treat the policy as if it had never existed.

Event means accidental loss or damage, fire, theft or attempted theft, malicious damage or storm damage. Events must:

  • happen in the period of insurance and
  • be unforeseen and unintended by you.

The type of cover you have determines which events are covered.


  • is the amount you have to pay for each incident if you make a claim,
  • is deducted from the amount of cover provided by your policy.

The amount and type of excess that applies to your policy is shown on your Certificate of Insurance. Your insurer will deduct the excess from the amount of cover under your policy and then pay you, or your insurer will ask you to pay the excess to a supplier, repairer or the insurance company itself.

Family is defined as your spouse, your partner or your de facto who lives with you, your parents and parents-in-law, your or your spouse’s children, your brothers and your sisters.

Defined as damage caused to home and contents caused by rain which results in pooling, overflowing or spreading of rainwater. This is quite separate from damage caused by the sea. If you have concerns in this area, check with your insurer.

Unlawful entry into your home, including entry by using stolen keys or picking locks. It does not mean opening an unlocked door or window.

The actual burning out of an electric motor or its wiring caused by the electric current in it. Therefore the item you are claiming on must have a motor for the claim to be successful. Common items that may be subject to a fusion claim include washing machines, refrigerators, clothes dryers, freezers and pool motors. You can find out more about fusion damage, also known as motor burnout or electrical motor burnout, here.

  • garages and other domestic outbuildings
  • pergolas, patios, verandas, decking and fixed gazebos
  • wallpaper, paint and coverings on walls or ceilings
  • fixed floor coverings including linoleum (glued down or not), timber floor coverings but not carpets (whether secured to the floor or not) or floor rugs
  • insulation for roofs or walls
  • electrical and gas appliances, light fittings and alarm systems but only if these appliances are permanently connected or plumbed to the electricity or gas supply
  • dishwashers that are housed in a purpose-built cupboard or bench
  • swimming pools and spas in a permanent site and their accessories
  • barbecues (fixed in place)
  • clothes lines (fixed in place)
  • external blinds, fixed shade sails (fixed in place)
  • awnings and fixed shade umbrellas (fixed in place)
  • aerials, fixed satellite dishes (fixed in place) and
  • masts (fixed in place)
  • garden borders, driveways, paths and paving
  • walls, gates and up to 2 kilometres of fencing
  • service pipes and cables that you own or are legally responsible for
  • tennis courts
  • boat jetties and pontoons
  • unfixed home building materials and uninstalled home fittings.

A room or part of the Home used as an office for business activities.

The following office equipment if used for a business activity (part time or full time):

  • computers, including laptops, electronic diaries, palm or pocket PCs, printers and scanners (but not software, games or stored media information)
  • filing cabinets
  • fax machines and photocopiers
  • phones
  • chairs, tables, desks and other office furniture
  • office stationery

If your home or contents are damaged or stolen, your insurer will replace them with new items or repair them with new materials that are available at the time of replacement or repair from Australian suppliers.

For obsolete electrical appliances, such as outdated computers or TVs, new for old means replacing or repairing to an equal specification. If this is not available, it means to the nearest better specification available. It can be a different brand.

This is extra cover above that already included in the standard policy. You can ask your insurer to add one or more optional covers to your policy for an extra premium. Sometimes an option might not be available. Your insurer will tell you if this is the case. If you choose and pay for an option:

  • that option will be shown as covered on your Certificate of Insurance and
  • under that option you will be covered for loss, damage or injury caused by an accident or incident in the period of insurance.

For these items, new for old cover means that if the item cannot be replaced or repaired under the new for old specifications, your insurer will pay you what it would have cost to buy the item immediately before the loss or damage occurred, but your insurer will not pay more than the sum insured for that item.

The time you are covered by the insurance, as shown on your Certificate of Insurance.

Your insurance contract. It consists of this PDS, your application for insurance and your latest Certificate of Insurance.

The amount you pay your insurer for insurance. You also pay stamp duty, GST and any additional government charges, and Fire Services Levy (FSL) if applicable.

PDS is the name of the document that contains the terms of your insurance cover. It includes information that would have previously been available in the insurance policy booklet. It tells you what cover is provided, details of costs, fees and charges and other important information. It should be read together with your Certificate of Insurance. If there are any changes to your PDS, your insurer should provide you with a Supplementary PDS, or a new PDS.

The most you can claim. The amount is shown on the Certificate of Insurance or in the PDS. The sum insured includes GST.

Tools or equipment used for any business activity except for home office equipment.

A home unit, flat, villa or townhouse subdivided according to state or territory strata or unit title laws, or similar laws.