Home insurance

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What’s home insurance?

Home insurance compensates you for unexpected losses affecting the house or flat you live in.

For instance if your home is damaged by an unforeseen event like a fire or flood, your home insurance may pay out to cover the cost of replacing your belongings or repairing your home.

There are two main types: buildings insurance and contents insurance. They can be bought individually or together as a single policy.

More about buildings and contents insurance >

What does home insurance cover?

Home insurance covers many risks, but it won’t cover everything. Exact cover varies between providers and your claim will be rejected if for something not listed on your policy.

What's covered?

Check your policy documents to see exactly what your home insurance includes, but a good policy will cover:

  • Fire damage
  • Storm and flooding damage
  • Subsidence
  • Theft, burglaries and vandalism
  • Falling trees and TV aerials
  • Impact by vehicle

Home insurance will sometimes cover the costs of damages caused by accidents and personal liability claims. If it doesn’t, you can usually add it to your policy for an extra fee. More about addons >

What’s excluded?

Each provider will list their own exclusions in the policy documents, but most will exclude:

  • Damage as a result of shoddy workmanship
  • Wear and tear or age
  • Mechanical breakdown
  • Losses caused by negligence - like leaving the door unlocked and getting burgled
  • Building work and renovations you didn’t tell the insurer about
  • Anything not described correctly on your policy – like not declaring an area of flat roof

What's the difference between buildings and contents insurance?

Buildings insurance

Buildings insurance covers damages to the structure of your home and its permanent fixtures and fittings. This includes things like your windows, flooring, walls and roofs. Garages, sheds and fences may be covered too.

99% of policies cover will also cover the cost of any emergency temporary alternative accommodation you need, should your home become uninhabitable due to the damage caused.[3]

More about buildings insurance >

Contents insurance

Contents insurance covers you for the loss, damage, or theft of your personal possessions and valuables. This includes things like your electricals, appliances, furniture and carpets.

Individual items are only covered up to a certain amount. You'll see this called a 'single item limit', and it's usually £1,000. If you have items worth more than the single item limit, list them separately on your policy to have cover for their full value.

More about contents insurance >

[3]According to Defaqto, 339 of 441 buildings insurance policies provided Alternative accommodation cover as standard. Checked 16 June 2021.

Do I need home insurance?

Home insurance isn’t mandatory, but it’s a good idea to have some protection in place. Think about whether you could afford to repair your home or replace your possessions if they were damaged, lost or stolen.

If you have a mortgage, your mortgage provider will insist on having buildings insurance as a condition of the loan.

Insuring your belongings is a more personal decision. Again, you’d have to find the money to replace your things if something happened and you didn’t have contents insurance.

If you rent your property, you won’t need buildings insurance - that's your landlord's responsibility.

Policy add-ons and extras

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 claims due to accidents in the home like a spilt glass of wine on a rug or a smashed window. Damage caused by children is usually included, but rarely pets and amateur DIY.

More about accidental damage and home insurance >

Bicycle insurance

Most contents insurance policies include a small amount of cover for bicycles that are stolen from your own home. But it might be less cover than you need, for example £500 per bike when you have a £2,000 racer. You can add bicycle cover to your home insurance to fully cover the bikes you have and it usually extends to cover away from home as well.

More about bicycle insurance >

Home emergency cover

This’ll protect you against things like boiler breakdowns, electrical failure and blocked drains. It’ll cover the cost of calling out an approved tradesman to get your services up and running again, as well as any replacement parts needed.

More about home emergency cover >

Legal expenses cover

Help for the costs of being sued and/or making a claim against someone else. Personal injury claims and property disputes with neighbours are times you may need to use it. The amount of legal cover you can claim varies a lot, and you aren’t guaranteed legal help. Check the small print and look out for exclusions.

More about legal cover and home insurance >

Personal belongings insurance

Standard contents insurance will only cover your items while they’re in your house. If you want cover when you're away from home, you’ll need personal belongings insurance. Policies can provide damage, loss and theft cover for things like jewellery, bicycles and mobile phones.

More about personal belongings insurance >

How much does home insurance cost?

The average price paid by our customers for a combined home insurance policy is just under £180 a year.*

The average price paid for buildings-only cover is £124.12 and contents-only cover is £79.60, so each is cheaper than a combined policy. But you won't get the same level of cover and it might well work out more expensive to buy them separately.

Your own quotes will depend on how likely the insurer thinks you are to make a claim, the value of your building or contents and the level of cover you choose.

Insurers use a whole host of factors to price your insurance - home security, risk of flooding and subsidence could all increase or decrease the cost.

*The average price paid for home insurance annually through GoCompare in March 2021, by type.

cost of home insurance

When’s the best time to buy home insurance?

You can buy home insurance up to 29 days before you want the policy to start.

But our research shows that the later you leave it, the more you’re likely to end up paying.

The cheapest time to buy your next buildings and contents insurance policy is 26 days before your existing policy ends.*

It’ll cost around 15% less than it would to buy it the day before your existing policy renews.

If you do decide to switch to a new provider, make sure you let your old one know – otherwise you could end up paying for both policies if your insurance auto-renews.

*Average of the cheapest annual buildings and contents insurance quote returned from all customers quoting between 1 January 2021 and 31 March 2021 through GoCompare.

When’s the best time to buy home insurance?

How can I get cheaper home insurance?

Shopping around for quotes every year isn't the only way to save. Here's five more tips that could help keep costs down:

  1. Improve your home security

    Get insurer-approved locks for your home, as well as smoke and burglar alarm systems

  2. Look 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

  3. 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

  4. Only pay for what you need

    You'll be offered a variety of optional extras when you apply for home insurance. Remember the best home insurance policy for you is one that offers the cover you need at an affordable price

  5. Pay annually

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

Frequently asked questions

  • How much contents cover do I need?

    To give you a general idea, the mean value of household contents in main residences in the UK is £37,518.[4]

    Most insurers will offer you around £40,000 cover for your contents, which for some is enough, but if you think you need more or less change 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 important to itemise anything worth over £1,000. If you don't, your insurer won't pay more than £1,000 for it - this is known as 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 and £1,000 and you can't increase it.

    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.

    [4]According to the Office of National Statistics Physical wealth: wealth in Great Britain mean total household physical wealth is £50,700 and household contents in the main residence account for 74% of household physical wealth = £37,518.
  • How do I estimate the rebuild cost of my house?

    The amount of buildings cover you need is based on the rebuild cost of your home. This is the amount it would take to rebuild the property if it was demolished. The figure is likely to be less than the price you'd get if you sold your home.

    To find your rebuild cost you can:

    • Use the rebuild calculator provided when you're getting quotes
    • Check a recent survey from a chartered surveyor
  • What home insurance do I need if I’m renting?

    Your landlord is responsible for taking out buildings cover if you’re a tenant as it protects your property.

    If you want insurance for your own possessions you’ll need to take out contents insurance – your landlord’s policy won’t cover your things.

  • Are my possessions covered outside of my home?

    Only if your policy includes personal possessions cover.

    It’s not often a standard part of a home insurance policy, but can be added as an optional extra for an additional premium.

  • What kind of door locks do I have?

    Insurers will want to know what type of locks you have. It’s so they can assess how secure your home is. Your doors will probably be fitted with either a 5-lever mortice lock, or a multi-point locking system, depending on whether they’re wooden or uPVC.

  • Can I get insurance if my homes undergoing building work?

    You can, but you’ll need to tell the insurer about any building work or home renovations that are underway or planned to take place during the policy period. Insurers need to know about:

    • Structural alterations to the layout of the property, such as building an extension
    • Major structural renovations like rewiring or re-plumbing the property
    • Loft, cellar, basement or integrated garage conversions

    If you don’t tell your insurer about structural building works, and something goes wrong, it’s very unlikely your insurer will help you with any of the costs, and your policy could be invalidated.

    You don’t need to tell them about simpler refurbishment works, though. Things like redecorating or fitting a new bathroom or kitchen are fine to do without telling your insurer.

  • Is a leak covered by home insurance?

    It can be. Frozen and burst pipes are a major source of home insurance claims, but cover varies enormously from policy to policy. You may also want to 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 has subsidence?

    Insurance for properties with subsidence history can be difficult to find, so you’ll likely need to go with a specialist provider. Most policies will cover loss and damage caused by subsidence, however, they may not cover the cost of preventing further subsidence from occurring.

  • 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 insure an unoccupied property?

    Yes, but the longer the property is unoccupied for, the fewer insurers you'll have to choose from, and the higher your premiums are likely to be.

    When getting a quote, you'll be asked if the property is left unoccupied for longer than 30 days. If so, whether it's for 30-45 days, or more than 45 days.

    If you can't find a suitable quote or you need cover for an extended period of time, try our unoccupied property insurance guide.

  • How much excess should I pay on home insurance?

    Your home insurance excess is the amount you must pay towards any claim you make.

    It’s made up of two parts: the compulsory excess and the voluntary excess. Your insurer sets the compulsory excess and you choose the voluntary excess.

    Choosing a higher voluntary excess usually means cheaper premiums, but make sure it’s an amount you’re still comfortable paying if you do need to claim.

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What details do you need to get a quote?

When you compare quotes with us, it’s a good idea to have some details about you, your home and your possessions at the ready. We’ll need to know things like:

  1. Property details

    The type of property, number of rooms and a few structural details.

  2. Personal details

    Your occupation, any dependants you have and details of previous claims.

  3. Rebuild cost of your home

    The amount it would take to rebuild the property if it was demolished.

  4. Value of your household contents

    The cost of replacing the entire contents of your home as new.

  5. Security details

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

Why compare home insurance with us?

[1]Based on independent research by Consumer Intelligence during 1 February 2021 to 28 February 2021: 51% of consumers could achieve a saving of up to £104.90 with GoCompare buildings and contents insurance based on a comparison of 37 companies.

[2]Based on Trustpilot: Our average rating of 4.8 out of 5 is from 641 people who left a review for home insurance comparison only. Last checked June 2021.

Over 500 home insurance customers rated us on average[2]

4.8 out of 5

on Trustpilot

Reviews from our customers

Go Compare gave me excellent choices for insuring my home, they ere very efficient and saved me money.

Easy to use and great price on my home insurance.

GoCompare informed my decision to source a new home insurance provider. It was a fairly straightforward experience. Thank you.

I wanted cheaper home insurance with a trusted company. Go Compare offered me many choices within seconds and was really easy to use.

Look after your home and avoid a rejected claim

Months of coronavirus lockdowns have seen people spend much more time at home than usual, increasing the day-to-day wear and tear on their property.

Home insurance only provides a financial safety-net for unforeseen events – policies typically exclude problems caused by poor upkeep.

So don’t put-off home maintenance like plumbing leaks or blocked drains and gutters which could lead to structural damage to your home or possessions
Lee Griffin - Founder and CEO of GoCompare Home Insurance

Home insurance providers we work with

As of June 2021, there are 68 active home insurers on the panel at GoCompare including:

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  • AA logo
  • Admiral logo
  • esure logo
  • Halifax logo
  • Legal & General logo
  • LV logo
  • Policy Expert logo
  • Swinton logo

Page last reviewed: 16 June 2021
Next review due: 16 August 2021

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