Home insurance

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What's home insurance?

Home insurance is cover that compensates you financially for damages to your house and your possessions.

Home insurance comes in two parts, buildings insurance and contents insurance. You can buy them separately or together as a single policy.

If it’s something you’d take with you if you move house, it’s classed as contents. If it’s a permanent part of the property, it’s usually buildings.

Let's say a flood affects your home and you've got buildings and contents insurance. Your insurer'll pay out to replace your damaged belongings and repair or rebuild your home.

What does home insurance cover?

Home insurance usually covers your home and contents from things like fire, theft, burst pipes, floods, storms and subsidence. It can also help to cover the costs of damages caused by accidents, home emergencies and personal liability claims.

Buildings and contents insurance cover different things, so it's worth working out what you'd like to protect and what from before you buy.

Buildings insurance
Contents insurance
Combined insurance

Buildings insurance protects the structure of your home and its permanent fixtures and fittings - things like like fitted kitchens, flooring, walls and roofs.

It'll cover you for unexpected damages, like fallen trees or subsidence, but not for damages caused by poor workmanship or general wear and tear.

Each insurer covers risks to your home differently, so check you’ve got the cover you need on the policy you choose. Look at how insurers treat fire damage, theft and flooding, for example, before you buy.

It isn’t a legal requirement, but mortgage providers usually insist you're covered from the date you exchange contracts. If you don't it can delay your mortgage application.

You won’t need buildings insurance If you rent your property - that's your landlord's responsibility. But you might want contents insurance for your belongings.

Key points

  • Imagine turning your house upside down and rattling it - the things that don't move are classed as buildings
  • Most mortgage providers expect you to have buildings insurance
  • If you're renting, you don't need it

Contents insurance covers you for the loss, theft or damage of your personal possessions and valuables. It'll cover things like furniture, electricals and ornaments.

It’s up to you whether you insure your contents. But if you couldn’t afford to replace them, it’s worth it.

Most contents insurance policies will only cover single items up to a certain amount. You'll see this called a 'single item limit', and it's usually £1,000.

That means if the cost of your claim for something exceeds the limit, you'll usually have to cover the remaining cost yourself.

If you own something that’s worth more than the single item limit, you’ll need to list it separately on your policy to get it insured for its whole value.

Key points

  • For your possessions, not the building
  • Usually provides cover against fire, theft and vandalism
  • Accidental damage cover is sometimes included or can be added at extra cost

A combined buildings and contents insurance policy covers the structure of your home and your belongings.

If you need both, then taking out one policy with the same provider usually works out cheaper.

It can make things simpler if you need to make a claim too. For example, if there’s a fire it’ll be far easier reporting it all to one insurer instead of two.

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Key points

  • Protects your home and its contents
  • Can be cheaper than taking out separate policies
  • You won’t need this if you're renting, just contents insurance

Get home insurance quotes

We just need a few details about your home and possessions

  1. Details about your property

    Your address, when it was built, how many rooms you have and a few structural details

  2. The rebuild value of your home

    This'll be less than its selling price

  3. The value of your personal belongings

    Use our contents calculator to work it out

  4. The security of your home

    What locks you have and if you have any burglar alarms or smoke detectors

  5. Who lives with you

    And when they’re usually at home

  6. Details of previous claims

    Not telling insurers can invalidate your policy

Join over 1 million UK households getting a home insurance quote with us each year

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GoCompare data September 2017 to September 2018

Optional extras and upgrades

You can add optional extras to your home insurance policy if you need them. You’ll have to pay extra for them, so think about whether they’re worth the extra cost

  • Accidental damage cover

    This'll cover you for accidents in the home like spilling a glass of wine on a rug or dropping a laptop.

    Damage caused by children is usually included, but rarely pets and amateur DIY.

  • Alternative accommodation

    Alternative accommodation cover gives you somewhere to stay if your home's structurally unsafe or uninhabitable.

    Your home can be classed as uninhabitable if it has no heating in winter or no electricity - it's not just for floods and fires.

  • Bicycle cover

    Most insurers will cover bicycles as standard, but it's not always the case.

    Some insurers only cover theft or damage to your bicycle at home. If you want extra cover for your bike away from home, you'll need to extend your cover.

  • Cover away from home

    Your possessions will be covered when they’re inside your house, but you can also get extra cover for them when you take them away from home.

    For items over £1,000 you’ll need to list them separately to get cover away from home.

  • Home emergency cover

    Extra cover for home emergencies like boiler breakdowns, electrical failure and blocked drains.

    You’ll get access to approved tradesman to get your services up and running again quickly.

  • Legal protection

    Legal expenses protection covers the cost of being sued or making a claim against someone else.

    The amount you can claim varies and you aren’t guaranteed legal help.

How much is home insurance?

It varies alot. But on average, a combined home insurance policy costs £183.55[2]. Individual cover is cheaper, but you won’t get the same amount of cover as you would with a combined policy.

What it'll cost you depends on how likely the insurer thinks you are to claim, the value of your building or contents and how extensive your cover is.

They use a whole host of factors to price your insurance - home security, risk of flooding and subsidence all count.

Average cost of home insurance by cover type

How much cover do I need?

When you compare home insurance, you’ll be asked for the value of the building and contents you want to insure.

If you give a value that's too high, it'll increase the price of your insurance. If it’s too low you'll be under-insured, which could cost you thousands if you needed to claim.

Calculating buildings insurance

You'll need to know the rebuild cost of your home. It's the cost of rebuilding the property if it was demolished.

The cost of building a house doesn't change much, so expect it to be lower than the price you'd get if you sold your home.

We've got a rebuild calculator you can use when you're getting quotes, or you can check a recent survey - it should be there.

Calculating contents insurance

Most insurers will offer you around £40,000 cover for your contents. For most people, it's enough, but if you think you need more, increase it. Take a walk around your house and look out for high-ticket items - fridges, TVs, even a wardrobe full of clothes. Your contents insurance is there to cover the cost if you had to buy those items again today.

It's really important to itemise anything worth over £1,000, though. If you don't, your insurer won't pay more than £1,000 for it - the single item limit. Keep hold of receipts or valuation certificates for these items.

Check cover limits for cash too - it's usually between £500 - £1,000 and you can't increase it.

We’ve got a contents calculator you can use to help you work out how much cover you need.

The things we own change, and so does their value. If you buy any expensive items - like gadgets or jewellery - you’ll need to tell your insurer if you want them covered too.

how much home insurance cover do i need

Keep the cost of your home insurance down

Follow our tips for cheaper home insurance

  1. Improve your home security

    Get insurer-approved locks for your home or an alarm system

  2. Join Neighbourhood Watch

    If a scheme’s active nearby, sign up and your insurer might give you a discount

  3. Increase your excess

    A higher excess can make your quotes cheaper, but keep it affordable incase you need to claim

  4. Pay annually

    With monthly payments, you'll have to pay interest and sometimes a finance arangement fee, so it'll be more expensive

  5. Don't over-insure

    Overestimating the value of your contents and the rebuild cost of your home will increase your premium. But if you're in any doubt, it's better to overestimate than underestimate

  6. Watch out for admin costs

    Check for hidden expenses on home insurance. A more expensive policy could work out cheaper when admin fees are factored in

  7. Protect your no-claims discount

    Decide whether you could pay for a small claim yourself - it might be cheaper to protect your no-claims discount in the long run

  8. Buy a combined policy

    A buildings and contents insurance policy can be cheaper if you need both

  9. Compare quotes every year

    Watch out for your renewal date. Shop around before your insurer auto-renews your policy and increases the price

Trusted providers on our panel

  • AA home insurance
  • Admiral home insurance
  • esure home insurance
  • Halifax home insurance
  • Legal & General home insurance
  • LV home insurance
  • Policy Expert home insurance
  • Swinton home insurance
Meet our insurers

Frequently asked questions

  • Will my insurance cover burst pipes and water leaks?

    Frozen and burst pipes are a major source of home insurance claims, but cover varies enormously from policy to policy.

    You should also check if you have trace and access cover on your home insurance, as this can be invaluable if you need to find and repair a leaking pipe.

  • Can I get home insurance if my property is at risk of flooding?

    If your home is at high risk of flooding, it's worth looking into flood insurance. Flood Re may be able to help you find affordable home insurance, even if there’s significant risk of flooding.

  • Can I get insurance if my property has subsidence?

    Getting home insurance for a property with subsidence history is tricky - you’ll probably need to go to a specialist provider.

    Most policies will cover loss and damage caused by subsidence, but they won’t cover the cost of preventing further subsidence.

  • Will home improvements affect my insurance?

    You need to tell your insurer before starting any major or structural home improvements. If you don’t, you could invalidate your cover.

    You don’t need to tell them about cosmetic alterations or minor DIY though.

  • Can I insure an unoccupied house?

    Yes, but the longer the property’s unoccupied for, the fewer insurers you’ll have to choose from, and the more expensive your quotes will be.

    If you can’t find the right insurance, or you need cover for an extended period, look into unoccupied property insurance instead.

  • What's a home insurance excess?

    Excess is what you have to pay towards the cost of a claim. Home insurance excess comes in two parts: voluntary and compulsory.

    Compulsory excess is set by the insurer and depends on your likelihood of making a claim.

    Voluntary excess is the amount you choose to pay towards a claim on top of the compulsory excess.

    Let's say something was stolen from your home worth £450. Your compulsory excess was £150 and the voluntary was £100. You’d have to pay £250 to claim, and your insurer would cover the other £200.

    Choosing to add a voluntary excess usually means lower premiums. Keep it affordable though, in case you need to claim.

  • How do I make a home insurance claim?

    To make a claim on your home insurance, you'll need to contact your insurer. They'll ask you for evidence to support your claim - things like crime reference numbers, photos, receipts or witness statements.

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Looking for something else?

If you need something more specific than standard buildings and contents insurance, there are plenty of different types of home insurance available:

Tenants insurance

Tenants insurance is home contents insurance, but for renters. You don’t need buildings insurance – that’s your landlord’s responsibility.

Find out more >

Landlord insurance

If you let a property, you’ll need the right insurance to look after the occupiers of the property - and the building itself.

Landlord insurance offers cover for buildings, contents, landlord liability and alternative accommodation.

Find out more >

Student home insurance

It's cover for your belongings, if you live in student halls or a house share. You can look at standard contents insurance too.

Find out more >

Insurance for flats

The insurance you need depends on whether you’re renting, a leaseholder, or own the freehold.

The block needs to be covered by buildings insurance, but that’s the responsibility of the freeholder. It’s up to you if you have contents insurance or not.

Find out more >

Holiday Home Insurance

This is specialist cover for holiday homes. Generally, you can't cover a second home that’s rented, or left empty for long periods of time, with standard home insurance.

Find out more >

New-build insurance

Protection for your brand-new home. Make sure you’ve also got a guarantee from the builder where you can raise any issues or snags for a fixed period after completion.

Find out more >

Listed building insurance

You’ll need to tell your insurer if your home’s listed - you can do that easily when you get a quote with us.

Look out for the rebuild value and check it's accurate - It might be more than you expect for a listed home.

Find out more >

Gadget insurance

Gadget insurance covers mobile phones, laptops, cameras, tablets, and GPS devices.

They might already be covered by your home insurance though, so check before you buy extra cover.

Find out more >

Jewellery insurance

Jewellery, watches and valuables can be covered for theft under your home contents insurance, or by a separate jewellery insurance policy.

You'll need to list valuables worth more than £1,000 separately - and look out for cover away from home.

Find out more >

Home appliance insurance

Household appliance insurance covers white goods like cookers, fridges and washing machines, and some electronics.

It’s often cheaper than buying individual extended product warranties.

Find out more >

Home insurance guides

Tools and calculators

[1]25% of customers who provided their buildings and contents insurance renewal price saved up to £100.08 with Gocompare.com (01 Oct 2019 to 31 Dec 2019)

[2] *From 1 May-31 May 2019 the average price paid out of all annual combined buildings and contents home insurance policies purchased through GoCompare was £183.55. The average price of a buildings only home insurance policy was £120.38, and a contents only policy was £79

[3]On 14 December 2018, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 2,001 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panellists. The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

[4]Based on a survey of randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panellists, conducted by Bilendi on behalf of GoCompare. The survey was conducted among 2,001 respondents on 14 December 2018

**From 1 October-31 October 2019 the average rebuild cost per home insurance policy purchased through GoCompare was £244,629. From 1 October-31 October 2019 the average content value per home insurance policy purchased through GoCompare was £49,141, excluding values of £0 and £999,999.

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