Why do you need home insurance?

It may not be a legal requirement to insure your home, but it can pay out to cover huge costs caused by fire, theft and flood damage.

Home insurance is made up of:

  • Building insurance, which protects the bricks and mortar of your home, and fixtures like kitchen units

  • Contents insurance, which protects your personal belongings inside your home

You can buy these policies separately, or in a combined home insurance policy.

When you take out a mortgage most lenders insist you have a buildings insurance policy for the property you are buying.

What type of property do want to cover?

Your home can influence what sort of policy you should get.

If you own a property of standard construction, most home insurance policies can cover you, but if your home is slightly different you may need different cover:

Rented accommodation

If you rent your home, you should not need buildings insurance. It is your landlord's responsibility to arrange this and sort out repairs.

You can get a contents insurance policy to protect all of your belongings like furniture, electronics, white goods and clothes you have in your home.

If your property is furnished, your landlord should have their own policy in place to cover the furniture that belongs to them.

If you are a student and you rent with friends, or live in halls of residence, you may need specific contents cover. Find out how to get the right student home insurance here.

Non standard properties

If your home is not of a standard construction, you may need a specialist insurance policy to cover it. Non standard homes include:

Here is how to find out what cover you need if you live in a non standard home.

Large or expensive homes

If your home is worth a lot of money, or has a large number of bedrooms, a standard home insurance policy may not be able to cover you. You may need specialist buildings cover if your home:

  • Is worth more than 1 million

  • Has more than six bedrooms

If you have an expensive home, you may also need higher levels of contents cover to protect your possessions. Some insurers offer high net worth home insurance designed to cover large homes and expensive contents.

This guide explains how to find insurance for high value homes.

Holiday homes

Many standard policies do not cover holiday homes, because most insurers will not insure properties left empty for more than 30 consecutive days.

You may need to get a specific holiday home insurance policy, which can cover your property if you do not stay there often.

It can be even harder to get cover if your holiday home is overseas. This guide explains how to insure your holiday home abroad.

Unoccupied properties

If you need to insure a house that will stay empty for an extended period of time, you need a specialist unoccupied home insurance policy.

Here is how to find the right insurance to protect an unoccupied house.

If you own another property you stay in regularly you may need a second home insurance policy.

Properties with subsidence

Most insurers will not cover your property if you have made a claim for subsidence damage in the past.

This is because repairing the foundations of your property can cost tens of thousands of pounds. There are insurers that can cover homes with subsidence, but you may be charged more and have to pay a higher excess if you claim.

Here is how how to get the right subsidence insurance for your home.

How much cover do you need?

When you apply for home insurance you need to work out:

  • The rebuild cost: This is the amount of money it would cost to rebuild your home from scratch. This is not the same as the market value of the property; here is how to work out the rebuild cost of your home.

  • The value of your contents: You need to work out how much all of your belongings are worth, so you have enough cover to replace everything if necessary. This guide explains how to calculate your contents cover.

By working out the correct amounts you can avoid paying more for your insurance than you need to, or not having enough cover to replace your contents or repair your home.

Do you need extra cover?

Most home insurance policies come with optional extras you can add to your policy. Common extras include:

  • Accidental damage: This covers damage you cause unintentionally, for example smashing a window or spilling paint on a carpet.

  • Home emergency cover: This lets you call on emergency help if you have a household problem like a burst pipe or electrical issue. Find out more about what home emergency cover offers here.

  • Personal possessions cover: This can protect your belongings outside your home. Most policies cover things like jewellery and mobile phones anywhere in the UK and abroad.

  • Legal expenses cover: This can cover legal cost for things like property disputes, faulty goods or services and employment claims. Most insurers also offer a 24 hour legal advice line you can use for guidance.

These come at an added cost, so think carefully about whether any of these extras would be useful. They could save you money and hassle in the long run if you do need them.

Work out what home insurance you need

To get the right home insurance policy for your property you need to:

  1. 1.

    Work out if you need a buildings, contents or combined home insurance policy

  2. 2.

    Decide if you need a specialist policy, for example if you are a student or have a non standard property

  3. 3.

    Work out exactly what level of cover you need to fully protect your buildings and contents

  4. 4.

    Think about what extras you need to add to your policy

  5. 5.

    Check the policy excess is an amount you can afford

Once you know what type of policy you need, and the levels of cover, you can compare home insurance here.