What changes do you need to declare?
You need to let your insurer know about any changes that could affect your cover, for example:
Home improvements, including anything that increases the rebuild value of your home
Expensive purchases that you want to cover under your contents insurance
Change of use, for example if you start a business from your home
If the number of people living in the property changes
If any of your personal details change, for example your name after getting married
If you do not update your policy you could end up being under insured, which means your claim may not cover the full cost of any damage.
Some insurers may even invalidate your policy if your details are not correct.
Updating your cover
Most insurers will let you change your cover at any time, for example if you want to:
Add extra cover options, like home emergency cover
Remove extra cover options
Amend your cover limits, for example increasing your cover if you buy an expensive TV
Any amendments will probably result in a change to your premium. For example, you will need to pay more to include extra cover options, or if you increase the sum insured.
Updating your policy
To amend your home insurance policy you need to contact your insurer. You can do this by:
Logging into your online account, if your insurer offers this facility
Calling them on the number shown on your policy documents
Writing to them
Make sure you have your policy number ready if you call because this will make it easier for them to find your details.
Most insurers can amend your policy immediately if you call or request the change online.
Keep them in a safe place where you can access them easily. Alternatively, make copies that you can have at hand and keep the originals filed away.
If you receive your policy documents by email or access them online, make sure you remember your login details.
What will it cost?
Most insurers will not charge you for making a change to your policy, but some may charge a fee of around £10.
Any amendments could also mean the cost of your cover increases.
For example: If you build an extension on to your home it will probably increase the rebuild value of your property, which would make your cover more expensive.
Many insurers base the cost of your cover on how many bedrooms you have, so if you add an extension which includes a bedroom this will increase your premium.
Renewing your policy
Your insurer will contact you by post or email at least 21 days before your policy end date confirming the cost of your home insurance for the next year.
Contact your insurer if you do not hear from them within a week of the end of your policy. Most policies will automatically renew, but the renewal quote your insurer gives you is unlikely to be the cheapest option.
Compare to last year's price
Look at how much you paid last year when you get your renewal quote and query any increase.
If you have made a claim, or amended your policy, this could result in more expensive cover.
From April 2017 insurers must confirm how much you paid last year in your renewal letter, which will make is easy to see if it has gone up, and by how much.
Your renewal letter or email will also need to encourage you to check your cover and shop around for quotes to see if you can get a better deal elsewhere.
If you pay for your cover by direct debit chances are your cover will roll over for another year at a price specified by your insurer if you do nothing.
Prices offered at renewal are usually higher than those given to new customers so always shop around before you accept it.
Get a cheaper policy
If you find a cheaper quote elsewhere use this to negotiate a better deal with your current insurer. If they cannot match it you could cancel your policy and take out the cheaper policy, provided it offers all the cover you need.
This guide explains how you can save on the cost of your home insurance.
Cancelling your policy
You can cancel your policy at any time by contacting your insurer.
You should be able to cancel without paying a fee during the first 14 days. This is called a cooling off period.
Some insurers give you a full refund, but others may charge you for any cover you have used, for example deducting seven days' worth of cover if you cancel after a week.
If you cancel after 14 days most insurers will charge you an admin fee of up to £50. You will receive a refund of your premium minus the cover you have used and the admin fee.
How to complain
If you are unhappy with your home insurance policy, for example if you had a claim rejected unfairly, you should make a formal complaint to get your issue resolved.
To make a complaint you need to:
Contact your insurer by phone: Speak to their complaints department and explain what has happened. They may be able to sort your complaint straight away.
Write a formal letter: If it cannot be resolved over the phone write a letter or email explaining your problem and how you would like it to be resolved. Mention that you will take the complaint to the ombudsman if it is not satisfied.
Go to the Financial Ombudsman Service: If you still do not get the response you want, take it to the Financial Ombudsman Service who can take action to resolve your complaint if they find in your favour.
Here is more advice on how to complain to financial service companies.
You can also get help making a complaint on the resolver website.