Whether you rent or own your home, if it's damaged or your belongings are broken or stolen, home insurance can be the protection you need to cover the cost.
Like other types, home insurance involves signing up to a monthly payment premium and you are then covered for the duration of the policy.
The best home insurance is one that will cover the true cost and worth of your home and belongings, so be as accurate as possible with these details when you compare home insurance policies.
Home insurance can be split into two separate policies; Buildings Insurance and Contents Insurance. You can buy each separately, or get them together as a combined policy.
Home insurance is also known as house insurance and means the same thing whether you live in a house or a flat.
What is contents insurance?
Contents insurance covers the personal belongings in your home against theft or damage. This can include items like furniture, gadgets and kitchen equipment.
Some content insurance policies include cover for items you take out of your home, like your phone, bike or laptop, although these aren’t listed as standard. You should check individual policies if you want to include this.
With contents insurance, your belongings will be replaced with new versions under a term known as New for Old. This means if your phone was lost or stolen, your insurance would cover the cost of a new one equal in value to the original. When taking out a policy, think about how much your belongings would cost to replace, rather than how much they might be worth.
If you are in a house or flat share and want to insure your personal contents, you can get shared home insurance. Most policies will only cover your contents if they are in your room and the door is locked. If you are a student, here is a guide on how to get the right student home cover.
What is building insurance?
Building insurance (or buildings insurance) is a policy that can cover the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if it’s damaged.
It usually protects the structure of your home and external fixtures like pipes against damage from bad weather, fire or theft. It can also cover internal fixtures and fittings like bathrooms, kitchens and outdoor structures, like sheds.
If there has been significant damage to your property and it is unsafe to stay in your home, your insurer will cover the cost of alternative accommodation until it has been repaired.
There are some exclusions with buildings insurance that mean you may not be covered. Most policies will not cover general wear and tear, loss or damage to your property if it has been left empty for more than 30 days.
What home insurance cover do you need?
If you’re a homeowner and own the freehold, you should look to get buildings and contents insurance on a combined policy as this is often cheaper than taking out separate policies.
New homeowners will find the rebuild cost listed on the mortgage valuation. Buildings insurance is not a legal requirement but some lenders will include it as a condition of the mortgage. If you own your home and don’t have buildings insurance, you should check whether this is a requirement as you may be putting your home at risk.
If you own a flat and pay a service charge or you’re renting, you may not need buildings insurance. This is because it will be the responsibility of your management company or landlord to arrange it. Regardless, a contents insurance policy would protect your belongings.
How much will house insurance cost?
Here are some factors to consider:
Locks: Some insurers will ask you to have specific locks to fulfil their policy requirements.
Alarms: Having a working alarm can reduce how much you pay for home insurance, but check that the model is approved by the insurer and is on at all times.
Excess: The insurance excess is the amount you have to pay when you make a claim. Insurers will usually allow you to increase the excess in your policy in exchange for a cheaper premium. This may be beneficial in the short term while you are making your payments but you should make sure you can afford the excess incase you do need to make a claim.
Contents: Only pay for what you need by adding up the value of your belongings so you know how much cover you need. Here is how to work out what you need
Home: This is how much it would cost to rebuild your house from scratch, rather than its market value. This is sometimes listed on your mortgage valuation. This guide will tell you how to find out the rebuild cost to get the right amount of cover
Accrued no claims bonus: You can earn a no claims bonus for every consecutive year that you hold a home insurance policy and do not make a claim. The more years you have with no claims, the lower your premium will be.
What home insurance optional extras are there?
Most policies offer extras which could save you money and hassle in the long run if you do need them. Examples of these include:
Accidental damage: This covers damage you cause unintentionally, for example smashing a window or spilling paint on a carpet.
Legal expenses: This covers legal issues and can include costs for property disputes and faulty goods or services. This covers legal issues and can include costs for property disputes and faulty goods or services.
Steps to compare home insurance quotes
To compare quotes, you’ll need to provide the following information:
Property: You will need to tell the insurer your address and any extra information about your home. This includes whether you live in a flat, house or another type of property, how many rooms you have and whether it’s a listed property. If you’re a homeowner you’ll find some of the more detailed information, like the age of the property, on your mortgage paperwork or HomeBuyer’s Report. If you’re renting, check with your landlord or estate agent.
Security: You will also be asked about what types of locks you have at your property. This will include the type of doors you have, any burglar alarms or smoke detectors and whether the property is left unoccupied for long periods of time.
Cover: This is where you decide the type of policy you would like, including whether you want buildings or contents cover, or both. You can also choose when your cover begins and whether you would like to pay monthly or annually. It’s typically cheaper to pay upfront as most insurers will charge interest for monthly payments. It’s a good time to make sure you have your paperwork together as you will need to state the value of your belongings.
Personal details: In this section, you will need to state the policy holders and details about their residential status, occupation and financial history.