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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.
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.
Check your policy documents to see exactly what your home insurance includes, but a good policy will cover:
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 >
Each provider will list their own exclusions in the policy documents, but most will exclude:
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.
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.
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.
If you own your own home, you’ll probably get the cover you need with standard buildings and contents insurance. If you need something more specific, there are plenty of different types of home insurance available.
Tenants insurance is home contents insurance, but for renters. You don’t need buildings insurance – that’s your landlord’s responsibility.
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.
It can be harder and more expensive to insure homes in flood-risk areas. Find out what help’s available finding standard or specialist cover.
Home insurance usually includes cover for subsidence, but not if you’ve been affected by it in the past. Find out more about how to get cover if your house has been underpinned.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cover for properties left unoccupied for more than 30 days can be costly and hard to find. Specialist unoccupied property insurance helps you find cover for properties left vacant for up to 12 months.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Shopping around for quotes every year isn't the only way to save. Here's five more tips that could help keep costs down:
Get insurer-approved locks for your home, as well as smoke and burglar alarm systems
Check for hidden expenses on home insurance. A more expensive policy could work out cheaper when admin fees are factored in
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
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
With monthly payments, you'll have to pay interest and sometimes a finance arrangement fee, so it'll be more expensive
To give you a general idea, the mean value of household contents in main residences in the UK is £37,518.
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.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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.Lee Griffin - Founder and CEO of GoCompare Home Insurance
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
Page last reviewed: 16 June 2021
Next review due: 16 August 2021