Home insurance is cover that compensates you for things like fire damage to your home, or theft of your belongings. It'll pay out to replace your property or repair your house if something unforeseen happens.
Home insurance comes in two parts, buildings insurance and contents insurance, which can be bought individually or together as a single policy.
If it’s something you’d take with you if you moved house, it’s classed as contents. If it would stay behind, it’s probably buildings.
Legally, you don’t. But it’s a good idea to have some protection in place. Think about whether you could afford to replace your home or possessions if the worst happened.
If you have a mortgage your mortgage provider will insist on at least buildings insurance as a condition of the loan.
You don’t have to take out insurance if you own your home outright. But if your home was damaged by fire or flood for example, you’d have to find the money for repairs yourself.
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.
It depends on whether you take out buildings insurance, contents insurance or both.
Buildings insurance protects the structure of your home and its permanent fixtures and fittings - things like fitted kitchens, flooring and bathroom suites.
You can expect to be covered if things go wrong with your roof, walls or ceilings. But not as a result of shoddy workmanship or dodgy DIY.
To get the right amount of cover, you’ll need to work out the rebuild cost of your home. We’ve got a calculator for this.
Not all policies offer the same level of cover, so you’ll need to check. Look out for how the policy covers damage from fires, floods or third parties, for example.
Leasehold flat owners don’t usually need their own buildings insurance policy, as it’s generally taken out by the freeholder.
Renters don’t need it either - it’s your landlord’s responsibility.
Contents insurance covers your personal possessions and valuables. It’s up to you whether you insure your possessions. But if you couldn’t afford to replace them, it might be worth it.
You’ll need to work out the value of items you own. Our contents calculator can help you add these up.
If something is worth more than £1,000, you’ll usually need to list it separately on your policy. For example, laptops or jewellery. Many insurers will also ask you to declare bicycles as separately valued items.
If you need buildings and contents cover, then taking out one policy for both with the same provider can be cheaper.
It can also make things simpler if you need to make a claim. If there’s a fire it’ll be far easier reporting it all to one insurer instead of two.
In 2017, 56% of householders said they had last switched more than a year ago, potentially missing out on cheaper premiumsBased on a survey of 1,949 randomly selected UK adults, conducted on behalf of Gocompare.com by Populus between 16 May, 2017 and 21 May, 2017
Shopping around is the best way to save - the average combined buildings and contents policy costs £163. We’ve got 11 more tips that could help keep the costs down:
Get better locks and or an alarm system
Fit smoke alarms on every floor of your home
…if a scheme’s active nearby
Insulate your pipes in winter, fix guttering and roof tiles, keep trees and foliage in check
If you claim, you have to pay an excess. Increasing this can reduce your quote prices. Just remember to make sure you could afford the higher excess if you did need to make a claim
Watch out for your renewal date and shop around before your insurer auto-renews your policy
Pay annually rather than monthly to avoid interest charges
Don't overestimate the rebuild cost of your home
Check for hidden expenses on home insurance. A slightly more expensive policy could work out cheaper when admin fees are factored in
Decide whether you could pay for a small claim yourself. It may be cheaper to preserve your no-claims discount in the long run
Choose a buildings and contents insurance policy if you need both
You can add extras to your home insurance policy, for added peace of mind. You’ll need to think about whether these are worth the extra cost to you.
Some might be part of a policy already, so check first.
This’ll protect you from mishaps like burning a hole in the carpet with the iron or spilling a drink over the telly.
Make sure you check what you’re covered for – damage caused by children is usually included, but rarely pets.
You can add accidental damage cover to buildings insurance, contents insurance or both.
More about accidental damage cover >
This is additional cover for things like your boiler, electrics or drains. You’ll get access to approved tradesman to get your services up and running again quickly. You can add this to your home insurance or take it out separately.
Check if you’re already covered though. Sometimes it’s part of a package with your bank account.
More about home emergency >
Legal expenses protection covers the cost of being sued or making a claim about someone else. All policies are different, but most will cover legal proceedings that involve your home.
The amount 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 protection >
Contents insurance will cover your items in your house, but if you want cover when you leave your home, it’s best to specify. Policies can provide cover for some things when you leave your home - such as jewellery, keys and mobiles phones – as standard.
For items worth more than £1,000. Its best to itemise if you want cover outside the home.
More about cover away from home >
Just as there are lots of different types of homes in the UK, there’s lots of different types of home insurance covering them too. There’s also all sorts of extras that you can add to your policy. Here’s our round-up of some of the alternative kinds of home insurance…
Tenants’ insurance is home contents insurance, but for renters. Your landlord should take care of the buildings insurance.Find out more >
When you're letting, the tenants and the property itself will be your priority. And that's where landlord insurance comes in.
Get cover for buildings, contents, accidental damage, landlord liability, and/or alternative accommodation.
Living in halls or in a house share? Then there’s special student insurance policies on offer but you can also look at standard contents insurance too.Find out more >
Flat insurance comes in two parts – buildings and contents. It can often be arranged through a communal policy with other residents in the building. If you own the flat, you’ll want to look into flat insurance, but if you’re renting, then it’s probably the landlord’s responsibility, although you may want to take out contents insurance for your personal belongings.Find out more >
Regular home insurance policies are unlikely to cover a second home, which may be left unoccupied for long periods of time and could be subject to additional risk factors if the property's let out. There are specialist holiday home insurers who can offer you quotes, though - try our dedicated holiday home insurance guide.Find out more >
Even though it’s fresh out the box, it’s still a good idea to get some protection and cover with a new build home insurance policy. But also make sure your new home has a guarantee from the builder that offers a fixed period during which you can raise any issues or snags.Find out more >
You’ll need to tell your insurer if your home is listed - our forms help you make the appropriate declaration.
You may find your choice of insurers more limited.
Make sure you declare an accurate rebuild value.
If your home is not a standard build, i.e. brick walls with a tile roof, you may require specialist home insurance. Features such as flat roofs or thatched roofs are widely viewed as non-standard by insurers.Find out more >
Gadget insurance provides cover for items including mobile phones, laptops, cameras, tablets, music players, eReaders and GPS devices, which can be expensive goods. Your home insurance policy may already offer gadget insurance - check your policy so you don't double up on cover.Find out more >
Protect watches, engagement rings, wedding rings and other precious jewellery.
Jewellery, watches and valuables can be covered for theft under your home contents insurance or by a separate jewellery insurance policy.
Make sure expensive jewellery is covered by single-item limits.
A huge variety of goods can be covered by household appliance insurance, with typical items including cookers, microwaves, music systems and washing machines. Home appliance insurance could be a cheaper alternative to purchasing extended product warranties.Find out more >
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Managed to insure my property for half the cost of my present insurer's renewal price.
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Comparable offers enabled me to make decision on placement of home and contents insurance and made saving over existing provider.
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.
Here are the four stages on making a claim on your home insurance:
If you're burgled, first call the police for a crime reference number.
Next, ring your insurer's hotline to submit a claim.
Collect receipts and take photos as evidence of your claim.
If repairs aren't urgent, make sure your insurer agrees to any work beforehand.
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.
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.
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