Insurance: Understanding the T&Cs

Whether you’re shopping around for insurance for the first time, or you’ve been insured for years, you need to know exactly what is covered and what is not covered under your policy before you take out insurance. You can rest easy knowing that you have enough insurance only when you know which assets are covered for which risks.

Don’t assume your policy covers all loss or damage, no matter how it’s caused. Your insurer lays out exactly what is covered (and, more importantly, what is not) in the terms and conditions (T&Cs). The complex jargon in T&Cs can be overwhelming, but if you don’t make the effort to read and understand them, you might find out what isn’t covered only when disaster does strike. And nasty surprises like that can hit your budget hard.

If you don’t understand what any term or condition means, ask your insurer to explain them to you. Here’s a list of words and phrases that often crop up in T&Cs:


All insurance policies have exclusions, which are things your insurer will not pay for. It’s usually a list of defined events or circumstances that could cause loss or damage that will not be covered under your policy.  

For instance, some insurers may pay for damage to appliances caused by lightning, but not due to power surges on the grid, which will then be an exclusion.


Never be too polite or embarrassed to ask your insurer to explain exactly what any term or condition means


Exclusions can be general or specific. General exclusions apply to your whole policy, while specific exclusions apply only to certain sections of your policy.

Some of the most common exclusions

  • Wear and tear or the gradual deterioration of your property.
  • Loss or damage caused by power surges.
  • Intentional damage to your property.
  • Infestations like termites that could lead to structural damage.
  • Loss or damage caused by mildew, rust or corrosion.
  • Loss or damage caused by pets.
  • Damage caused by weeds or roots.
  • Nuclear hazards.
  • War and rioting.

Level of cover

The extent or level of cover is the amount for which you are insured, in line with the exclusions and the value of your asset. If you buy household appliances, electronic devices, jewellery, or other valuable assets after you have taken out insurance, you must inform your insurer immediately so that these items can be added to your house contents insurance. Both your level of cover and your premium will have to be adjusted to include these new assets. The same applies to buildings insurance – if you add fixtures like a swimming pool or a solar power system to your home that will increase its value, you have to specify it in your policy.


Your premium is the monthly amount you have to pay to be covered. Things like inflation, building costs and the retail value of an asset like a car can also make your premiums go up or down.


Excess (also known as the ‘first amount payable’) is the amount you must pay on top of your monthly premium when you claim. The excess amount can be a percentage of the total cost of repairs or the replacement value of an asset. Excess percentages vary, so discuss this with your broker or insurance provider before you sign a contract. In general, a lower premium means a higher excess, so don’t be blindsided by the amount you’ll have to pay if you need to claim.

If in doubt, ask

Nedbank uses plain language as far as possible to make our T&Cs and policy wordings as simple and transparent as possible. However, even with the regulations imposed by the Policyholder Protection Rules, policyholders can still find the wording of insurance policies confusing.

But ignorance is not bliss. If you don’t understand the T&Cs of your policy, it could lead to rejected claims and added expenses. That’s why you should never be too polite or embarrassed to ask your insurer to explain exactly what any term or condition means before you commit to a policy.

Get in touch with one of our insurance experts.