Like the law, the Silicon Valley, and the deck of a ship, insurance can get a little jargon-heavy. (Ok, a lot jargon-heavy.) Even commonly used insurance terms can sometimes leave people scratching their heads. So, now and then, we like to choose some of the more obscure insurance lingo and explain it in plain English. (You’re welcome.)

Jargon-free insurance terms


No, in this case we aren’t talking about a politician supporting a candidate or an actor touting a new wrinkle cream. In the insurance world, an endorsement (aka a rider) simply refers to a change or addition to an existing insurance policy. This might include changing your deductible, adding another person to your policy, or changing your limits — perhaps in response to a life event.

Life event

An insurance “life event” is similar to a regular “life event,” meaning a major happening (getting hitched, having a baby) that significantly changes your living situation or status. If you get married, you’ll likely want to add your spouse to your insurance policy. If you get divorced, a family member passes away, or an adult child leaves home, you might need to remove someone from your policy. Or let’s say you build an addition onto your house or acquire a lot of new household goods. This would be a good time to adjust your homeowners coverage limits.

If your life event (or just your life) leaves you with valuable assets you want to protect, an endorsement may not be enough. In that case, you might consider umbrella insurance.

Umbrella insurance

Also known as a personal umbrella policy, umbrella insurance offers broader liability coverage in situations where your regular car or homeowners insurance isn’t enough. If you’re sued and found to be at fault, for example, this coverage will kick in to help pay legal fees once your primary policy limits have been reached.

See? This insurance stuff is simple! Ok, not always, but we’re working to make it more understandable. For more jargon-free definitions, check out our full glossary of insurance terms.

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about Ellen

Ellen has spent many years as a professional wordsmith, helping to shed light on such topics as world travel, cargo pants, and the porosity of bath tiles. As a freelance copywriter for Esurance, she brings her boundless curiosity to the world of insurance. Outside work, she can be found cheering on the San Francisco Giants, hiking in the Oakland hills, and (barely) resisting smuggling penguins home from Antarctica.