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Property insurance is defined as a policy that covers the owner or renter of a house from a variety of damages such as theft, fire, some types of weather damages and more. Visit our homeowners insurance coverage and renters insurance coverage pages for more information on property insurance policies.

Property insurance definitions

Every industry has its unique language and terminology. Property insurance is no exception. Here are some good terms to know about insuring your home or business.

Act of God

A natural occurrence, such as earthquake or hurricane.

Actual cash value (ACV)

The replacement cost of property, minus the diminished value from its age, use or wear.

Contract of indemnity

Property insurance that restores the insured to their original financial condition after a loss happens.

Declarations page

A page in your policy – usually the front page – with basic information such as your name and address, description of the property location insured, effective dates of the policy, amount of coverage and the premiums.


Losses not covered because they are specifically excluded by the policy.

Increased cost of construction

Added costs of rebuilding a damaged or destroyed building where local laws require the use of more expensive materials, services or methods than the original. This may also be referred to as building ordinance or law coverage.

Malicious mischief

Deliberate damage or destruction of another person’s property. For insurance purposes, it is typically covered under vandalism.

Named (or specified) peril

Events named in a policy such as vandalism, windstorm, fire or sprinkler leakage. A named-peril policy only covers those specific events, rather than all potential losses. These policies are usually cheaper because they cover fewer risks.

Physical hazard

The features of a property that are vulnerable to damage. Building construction, electrical wiring and the heating/cooling system are examples of physical hazards.


Anything that has value. There are two types: real property and personal property.

Real property

Land and the permanent things on it, such as buildings, outdoor fixtures, machinery and equipment.

Personal property

All other property not classified as real property, and which is easily moved. This includes furniture, clothing and household goods.

Replacement cost (RC)

The actual cost of replacing damaged or destroyed property with new property, in contrast to ACV. Refers to the amount it takes to replace damaged or destroyed property with new property, without consideration for depreciation.


Property damaged beyond repair, which is taken over by an insurance company (after the claim is paid) in order to reduce its loss by “salvaging” the remaining value of the property.

Territorial rating

A method of classifying risks by geographic location to set a fair price for coverage. Often used in conjunction with other rating factors.

Valued policy

A specific amount paid to the insured in the event of a complete loss. Also known as an “agreed amount.”