If you’re unsure which type of home insurance you need for your property or how much cover you should take out, this guide explains everything you need to know.
Although it may not be a legal requirement to insure your home, having the right home insurance policy in place can protect you against paying out huge costs if your property is damaged by fire, flooding, subsidence or if your belongings are stolen.
Home insurance comes in two types:
You can buy these policies separately or in a combined home insurance policy.
Your home can influence what sort of policy you should get.
For example, most home insurance policies will cover you if you own a property of standard construction, but if your home is a listed building or has a thatched roof, you may need more specialist cover. Whether you rent or own your home can also affect the type of cover you need.
If you rent your house or flat, you won’t usually need buildings insurance. It is your landlord's responsibility to arrange this and sort out any repairs to the structure of the building.
However, while you won’t need buildings insurance, it’s your responsibility to ensure your possessions are insured by taking out a contents insurance policy. This will protect all your belongings like furniture, electronics, white goods and clothes you have in your home.
If your property is furnished, your landlord should have a 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.
If you have a mortgage on your home, your lender will usually request that you take out buildings insurance as a condition of your mortgage. You do not need to take out cover with your lender – it is better to shop around and compare policies to get the best deal.
If you own your property outright, you won’t be obliged to take out buildings insurance. But it’s still well worth having cover in place if you don’t want to be left footing the bill if your home is damaged.
To make sure your possessions are covered, it is also wise to take out contents insurance. It’s generally cheaper to combine buildings and contents insurance into one policy rather than take out separate cover.
Note that if you own a leasehold flat, the freehold owner will usually arrange buildings insurance for you, so you’ll only need to take out contents cover.
If your home is not of 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.
If your home is worth a lot of money or has a large number of bedrooms, a standard home insurance policy may not 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.
Many standard policies do not cover holiday homes. This is because most insurers will not insure properties left empty for more than 30 consecutive days.
You may need to get a specific to cover your property if you only stay there occasionally. Many holiday home insurance policies will also cover homes overseas. This guide explains how to insure your holiday home abroad.
If you need to insure a house that will stay empty for an extended period, you need a specialist unoccupied home insurance policy. This is because empty homes are more susceptible to damage and theft, so you’ll need a specific policy to protect you against these risks.
You may need a second home insurance policy if you own another property that you stay in regularly.
Most insurers will not cover your property if you have claimed for subsidence damage in the past. This is because repairing the foundations of your property can cost tens of thousands of pounds.
Fortunately, some insurers can, but you may be charged more and have to pay a higher excess if you claim.
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 property’s market value; 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 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 necessary. You’ll also reduce the risk of not having enough cover to replace your contents or repair your home.
Most home insurance policies come with optional extras that 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 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 costs for property disputes, faulty goods or services and employment claims. Most insurers also offer a 24-hour legal advice line that you can call for advice.
These come at an added cost, so think carefully about whether any of these extras would be helpful. They could save you money and hassle in the long run if you do need them.
To get the right home insurance policy for your property, you need to:
Work out if you need a buildings, contents or combined home insurance policy
Decide if you need a specialist policy – for example, if you are a student or have a non-standard property
Work out precisely what level of cover you need to fully protect your property and its contents
Think about what extras you need to add to your policy
Check that 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.