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Last updated: 14 June, 2020
If your home is damaged or your belongings are broken or stolen, house insurance can be the protection you need to cover the cost.
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.
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 also cover items you take out of your home, like your phone, bike or laptop. But these aren’t listed as standard, so you should check individual policies if you want to include kind of cover.
With contents insurance, your belongings will be replaced with new versions. This is called ‘New for Old’. It means that if your phone was lost or stolen, your insurance would cover the cost of a new one, equal in value to the original. So when you take out a policy, think about how much your belongings would cost to replace, rather than how much they might be worth.
If you’re in a house or flat share and want to insure your personal belongings, you can get shared home insurance. Most policies will only cover your contents if they’re in your room and the door’s locked.
There are several specific kinds of contents insurance you can get. These include:
Rental contents insurance (to protect your belongings if you’re renting)
Landlord insurance (if you’re a landlord who lets furnished properties)
Unoccupied property insurance (for a holiday home)
Here’s some more information on what contents insurance covers.
Building insurance (or buildings insurance) covers 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 and kitchens, and outdoor structures like sheds.
If there’s been a lot of damage to your property and it’s unsafe to stay in your home, your insurer will pay for you to stay somewhere else until it’s been repaired.
There are some exclusions with buildings insurance that mean you may not be covered. Most policies don’t cover general wear and tear, loss or damage, if your property’s been left empty for more than 30 days.
Here’s some more information on what buildings insurance covers.
If you’re a homeowner and own the freehold, you should try to get buildings and contents insurance on a combined policy. It’s often cheaper than having separate policies.
New homeowners can find out the rebuild cost for their home on their mortgage valuation. You don’t legally need buildings insurance, but some lenders insist you have it as a condition of the mortgage. If you own your home and don’t have buildings insurance, you should check whether your mortgage lender has said you must have it. You could be putting your home at risk by not complying.
If you own a flat and pay a service charge, or you’re renting, you might not need buildings insurance. It’s the responsibility of your management company or landlord to arrange it. But don’t forget that only a contents insurance policy would protect your belongings.
It’s not a good idea to simply look for cheap house insurance if it doesn’t actually give you the cover you need. It’s more important to have the right home insurance than it is to find home insurance offers that cost less.
But, before you do your home insurance comparison, you should consider the following factors which can affect the price you’re offered.
Locks: Some insurers ask you to have specific locks to take out a policy with them.
Alarms: A working house alarm can reduce how much you pay for home insurance. Make sure the model’s approved by the insurer. And remember to use it at all times if you’re out of the house, or your insurance could be invalid.
Excess: Your house insurance excess is the amount you have to pay when you make a claim. Insurers usually offer a cheaper premium if you’re happy to pay a higher voluntary excess. This can be helpful while you’re making your payments. But you also need to make sure you can afford the excess in case need to make a claim.
Contents: Add up the value of your belongings so you know how much cover you need. Don’t get too much. Here’s how to work out what you need.
Home: This is how much it would cost to rebuild your house from scratch. It’s not the same as your home’s market value. The rebuild cost’s usually listed on your mortgage valuation. This guide explains how to work out your rebuild cost so you can get the right amount of cover.
No claims bonus: You can earn a no claims bonus for each year that you continue to have a home insurance policy and don’t make a claim. The more years you have with no claims, the lower your home insurance will be.
Most home insurance policies offer extras. These could save you money and hassle in the long run if you need them, but you’ll sometimes pay more for them.
When it comes to home insurance, compare which deals offer which extras as part of the package. Examples include:
Accidental damage: This is for damage you cause unintentionally. For example, it might cover you for smashing a window or spilling paint on a carpet.
Home emergency: This covers you for household problems, like a broken boiler or burst pipe. You’ll usually get access to a 24-hour emergency helpline. Find out more about home emergency cover.
Legal expenses: This covers legal issues. It could include costs for property disputes and faulty goods or services.
Alternative accommodation: Some policies don’t offer alternative accommodation as standard. It’s a way of making sure you’d have somewhere else to live if your home was damaged and needed repair work.
Personal possessions: This covers you for items you take out of your home, like gadgets, phones or jewellery, so it can sometimes be handy. Otherwise, you can insure these items separately.
Bicycle cover: You’ll need to decide whether you just want cover if they were taken from your home, or if you want cover away from home, too. Sometimes it can be better to get a specialist bicycle insurance policy.
Protected no claims: If you’ve build up a good no claims discount over several years, you might want to pay a bit extra to protect it. Then, if you did need to claim, your no claims discount would be protected.
If you want to compare house insurance, there’s some important information you’ll need to be ready to share to get quotes.
Property: You’ll need to give the insurer your address and other information about your home. This includes whether you live in a flat, house or another type of property. It also covers how many rooms you have, what kind of roof you have and whether it’s a listed building. If you’re a homeowner you’ll find helpful information, like the age of the property, on your mortgage paperwork or HomeBuyer’s Report. If you’re renting, you can ask your landlord or estate agent for information.
Security: You’ll be asked about what types of locks and doors you have, and whether you have burglar alarms or smoke detectors. They’ll also ask whether the property’s left unoccupied for long periods. Most home insurance policies let you leave the home empty for around 30 days, so you can go on holiday without worrying.
Cover: You need to decide what kind of policy you’d like. That includes whether you want buildings or contents cover separately or together. You can also choose when your cover starts, and whether you’d like to pay monthly or annually. It’s usually cheaper to pay upfront, as most insurers charge interest for monthly payments. It’s a good time to make sure your paperwork’s safely filed together, as you you’ll need to give value of your belongings.
Personal details: You’ll need to say who the policy is for and say where they live, their occupation and their financial history.
Previous claims: You’ll have to give details of any claims you’ve made in the past. Your previous insurer can help if you can’t remember.
Here’s some more information on how to choose the right home insurance.
When it’s time to arrange house insurance, compare deals between different providers. Of course you want to find the best home insurance companies offering the cheapest home insurance. But it’s very important to get the best house insurance for your needs, and not just the cheapest.
Many people make the mistake of covering the market value of their home. But all you need to cover is the rebuild cost, which is less, in case it was knocked down. Less cover means cheaper insurance. But you’ll also need to make sure your cover provides you with alternative accommodation so you’d have somewhere to live while your home was rebuilt.
Loyalty isn’t rewarded when it comes to insurance, so remember to compare home insurance quotes when it’s time to renew. You could always ring your current insurer once you’ve done this to see if they’ll price match. It’s OK to haggle or ask for a discount on your home insurance.Also, shop around about a month before your home insurance is due for renewal – you’ll get a better deal than if you leave it until the last minute.
Having good locks on your doors and windows is important. Better locks mean cheaper premiums. Some insurers even specify which ones they need you to have, so check carefully. You’ll also need to put down the right type when you’re asked – getting it wrong could make your house insurance cover invalid. Know your locks!
Although it can be tempting to pay monthly so you don’t have to pay upfront, it’s always cheaper to pay annually. Paying monthly is like getting a high-interest loan. It’s better to pay in full with a low APR credit card than it is to pay monthly through the insurer’s scheme.
Avoid extra cover you don’t need. Check what accidental damage cover you get as standard before you decide whether you need more. For example, some insurers cover electrical goods, but don’t cover you if you spill paint on your carpet.
Think carefully about whether you need to cover personal possessions that you take out of the house too. Some people already have separate specialist mobile phone, gadget, or bike insurance. It can sometimes work out cheaper if it’s separate.
If you’ve gone several years without making a claim, you’ll usually be offered cheaper home insurance. So be sensible about what claims you choose to make. Sometimes it can be better to think about the bigger picture than make a small claim and lose your no claims discount.
There are a few steps you can take to minimise the chance of needing to claim. These steps will also make lower the cost of your house insurance premium so they are worth mentioning to home insurance companies.
Improve your home security – install a burglar alarm, secure locks and a safe
Don’t leave your home empty – doing so increases the risk of burglary, fire or water damage
Insulate your pipes – so they don’t burst when they freeze and thaw in cold weather
Install a smoke alarm – because it decreases the risk of fire damage.
It is not a legal requirement, but if you have a mortgage your lender will insist you have buildings cover to protect their investment.
Yes, if you live with another person you can take out a policy together. This means you can both claim and it can sometimes get you a cheaper premium.
You will only need to insure your contents, because it will the responsibility of your landlord to protect the buildings.