If you’ve taken out a home insurance policy, it’s up to you to make sure you regularly check it to ensure nothing has changed. We explain what you need to do.
You need to let your insurer know about any changes that could affect your cover, such as:
Home improvements, particularly renovations that increase the rebuild value of your home
Expensive purchases that you want to cover under your contents insurance
Change of property 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, changing your name
If you do not update your policy you could end up being underinsured, which means any future claims may not cover the full cost of any damage.
Some insurers may even invalidate your policy if your details are not correct.
Most insurers will let you change your cover at any time – for example, if you want to:
Add extra cover options, such as home emergency cover
Remove extra cover options if you no longer need them
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. You will need to pay more to include extra cover options, for instance, or if you increase the sum insured. But you might pay less if you reduce the number of additional cover options on 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
Phoning your insurer on the number shown on your policy documents
Writing to them at the address shown
If you’re making a phone call, have your policy number ready as this will make it easier for your insurer to find your details.
Most insurers can amend your policy immediately if you call or request the change online.
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, 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 that includes a bedroom this will also increase your premium.
Your insurer will contact you by post or email at least 21 days before your policy’s 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. This means it’s important to do a bit of research before accepting your renewal quote.
When you receive your renewal quote, look at how much you paid last year and query any increase.
Keep in mind that if you have made a claim on your policy over the past year, or amended your cover, this could result in higher premiums.
Since April 2017, insurers are obliged to confirm how much you paid last year in your renewal letter, which will make it easy to see if the price has gone up and by how much.
Your renewal letter or email must also 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 - unless you take action.
Prices offered at renewal are usually higher than those given to new customers so always shop around before you accept the quote.
From January 2022, new rules from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) mean renewal quotes for both home insurance and car insurance cannot be more expensive than they would be for new customers. This means that existing customers will no longer be penalised. But it could lead to an overall increase in insurance premiums, so it will still pay to shop around.
If you find a cheaper quote elsewhere, use this to negotiate a better deal with your current insurer. If they cannot match it, ditch your old insurer 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.
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 of taking out cover. This is known as the cooling-off period.
Some insurers will 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.
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 the complaints department and explain what has happened. They may be able to sort out 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 resolved satisfactorily.
Go to the Financial Ombudsman Service: if you still do not get the response you want, take your complaint 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.