Insurance when moving house

Moving home is a stressful experience, so make sure your contents, your old home and your new home have insurance cover during the switch.

Key points

  • Cover for goods in transit and/or in storage may be included as standard or as an option - check your policy
  • You're likely to have to use professional movers to be covered DIY moves may invalidate insurance
  • Valuables like jewellery and documents may not be covered
  • Remember your new property - you're responsible for it when you exchange contracts, so make sure you have appropriate insurance cover in place

Moving house is usually a chaotic experience.

You've got solicitors and estate agents to deal with, paperwork piling up and day-to-day life still carrying on in the background.

Home contents insurance in transit

Making sure your possessions are insured during the move may not be something you've considered, but checking your home insurance policy will give you peace of mind in the middle of a hectic time.

In May 2014 Gocompare.com analysed 315 contents insurance policies listed on the matrix of independent financial researcher Defaqto.

In the study, 81% of insurance providers covered possessions during removal as standard - but only if you're using a professional to transport them.

A DIY move, where you pack all your worldly possessions into the back of your mate Dave's van, isn't covered.

Some 9% of the policies studied offered removal cover as an optional extra with accidental damage cover.

During a move it's not uncommon for heavy items of furniture or fragile objects to be damaged, so a DIY move could prove costly if your belongings aren't insured
Ben Wilson, Gocompare.com

If you're moving valuables or breakables, these are only insured if they have been packed professionally.

Valuables including jewellery, watches, deeds and other documents are usually excluded from cover for home moves, according to the Gocompare.com research, so it's wise to check and consider special cover.

"Moving home is an expensive business," said Gocompare.com's Ben Wilson.

"Some people look to make savings by either opting for a complete DIY removal or by packing the boxes themselves and arranging transportation through a professional firm.

"But during a move it's not uncommon for heavy items of furniture or fragile objects to be damaged, so a DIY move could prove costly if your belongings aren't insured.

"Whether you opt to move yourself or employ a professional firm, you'll need to contact your home contents insurer well in advance of your moving date to let them know of your plans.

Did you know...?

  • Once you exchange contracts you take legal responsibility for your new property - not on the day of completion

"They'll be able to let you know what cover, if any, is provided for your possessions while they are in transit and highlight any limits or restrictions which may apply.

"For example, valuables including money, jewellery, watches, deeds and other documents may be excluded, while cover for items held in storage may be restricted, with some policies specifying a certain number of days while others provide no cover at all."

If you need to keep any of your possessions in storage before moving into your new home, have a word with your provider - cover is sometimes restricted to a number of days, or you may get no cover at all as standard.

Insurance in a new homeHome contents calculator

Once your contents have arrived at your new home, it's important to let your insurer know so your cover can be re-evaluated.

"To move your contents insurance with you to your new property, you'll also need to provide your insurer with details of your new home," said Wilson.

"Premiums are based on the postcode and the type of property you live in, as well as the value of your belongings, so your insurer will want to recalculate your premium accordingly.

"Also, if you're buying new furniture, electrical goods or other items for your new home which would push up the value of your home contents, you should review your sum insured to make sure it is sufficient to cover your new purchases."

Before committing to switch, you should check your existing insurer's cancellation charges
Ben Wilson

Remember, once you exchange contracts you take legal responsibility for your new property - not on the day of completion.

There is usually an overlap in moves, so you'll need to make sure both your properties are insured during that period, which can sometimes be weeks or months.

Many policies will cover your old property until you move into your new one, but again give your provider a call to check.

Time to compare home insurance

It's always a good idea to check you're getting the best deal annually, but moving home can be the perfect time to compare prices and reassess your home insurance policy.

If you are mid-way through your policy you could be subject to a cancellation fee, which is likely to affect any benefit gained from switching.

"While your current insurer may have offered the best deal on your old property, they might not be so competitive for your new home, so changing your address can also be a good time to shop around and change your home insurer," said Wilson.

"However, before committing to switch, you should check your existing insurer's cancellation charges to make sure that these don't wipe out your potential saving."

By Emily Bater