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What’s home insurance?
Home insurance is protection against things like fire and theft that damage your home or your belongings.
It’s made up of two features, buildings insurance and contents insurance, which can be bought individually or combined.
You might also see it called house insurance, it’s all the same thing.
What’s the difference between contents insurance and buildings insurance?
Buildings insurance protects the structure of your home and its permanent fixtures and fittings, things like fitted kitchens and toilets.
Contents insurance covers your personal possessions and valuables against accidents, theft and loss.
Basically, if it’s something you’d take with you when you moved house it’s classed as contents, if it would stay behind – it’s buildings.
Wondering how much contents insurance you should have? Then have a go on our contents calculator for home insurance.
What do I need to get a home insurance quote?
Pop some details into our quote machine. Here’s our quick checklist of what you’ll need:
- Details about your property – when it was built, if you have a flat roof, type of lock on the front door etc.
- The rebuild value of your home – if you’re not sure, then we’ve got a guide on how to estimate rebuilding costs
- The value of your personal belongings – no need to fret, we’ve got a “How to estimate how much contents insurance you need” guide and a contents calculator too!
- Info on your current home insurance – if you have a no claims bonus or what you claimed on insurance in the past
- Number of occupants and when they’re usually at home.
Do I need home insurance?
Home insurance can protect your property and what's inside it, depending on whether you have buildings insurance, contents insurance or both.
Unlike car insurance, there’s no legal requirement to have home insurance but it’s a good idea to have some form of insurance in place.
Also, if you have a mortgage, your lender will insist you have buildings insurance.
How much is annual home insurance?
You’re gonna have to grab a quote if want to know exactly how much you’ll be paying. But if you’re after a ballpark figure, then the average combined buildings and contents policy quote was £163.03 in August 2018 according to the AA's British insurance premium index.
How do I make my home insurance cheaper?
Here’s 12 things that might help you lower your premiums:
- Improving your home security
- Fitting smoke alarms on every floor of your home
- Joining a Neighbourhood Watch scheme - if you live in an area that's covered by a Neighbourhood Watch scheme you may qualify for a discount on your home insurance.
- Maintaining your property - avoiding incidents is the best route to keeping down insurance costs and to cutting the expense of property ownership generally. Insulate your pipes in winter, fix guttering and roof tiles, keep trees and foliage in check.
- Increasing your voluntary excess
- Finding your renewal date and making sure you don’t auto-renew
- Paying annually rather than monthly
- Not over-estimating the rebuild cost of your home
- Paying attention to administration charges - one of the great hidden expenses on home insurance and all too easy to ignore when arranging cover. Paying £5 or £10 more for insurance with reasonable administrative fees may save you much more during the policy.
- Protecting your no claims discount –thinking about making a small insurance claim that you could instead pay for yourself? It may work out better to preserve your no-claims discount instead.
- Combining buildings and contents insurance if you need both
- Comparing home insurance quotes before committing
Can security systems reduce my insurance cost?
Yes. If you have the right security measures, or fit additional security, you could find the cost of your home insurance premium falls.
You might want to consider investing in more hi-tech security, but remember that the amount you spend on new gadgets may outweigh the savings you’d make on your premiums.
Get the security basics right first by fitting effective locks to doors and windows.
Compare home insurance quotes
You're just one quick and easy search away from seeing multiple home insurance quotes - it's never been easier to find the right policy. Whatever type of cover you’re after, searching with GoCompare is the easiest way to find a great home insurance deal and save some money.
Home insurance reviews – who’s the best?
The best home insurance is provided by… who ever offers the best policy for your needs at the best price. Compare home insurance quotes to see what’s out there or have a look through some of our guides on the larger home insurance companies.
Types of home insurance
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…
Listed building home insurance
Finding the right home insurance for a listed building may prove more difficult than with a standard property, but comparing quotes and shopping around could get you the deal you need.
- 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 you want to update your home, you'll need to obtain Listed Building Consent
Non-standard home insurance
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.
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.
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.
Pet home insurance
Few home insurance policies will offer protection against damage done by pets in your property, so you may might want to explore accidental damage pet insurance. Check your policy first though.
Protect watches, engagement rings, wedding rings and other precious jewellery and valuables from loss or theft with the right insurance cover.
- 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
- Check whether you have personal possessions cover away from home - then make sure your valuables are included under the policy terms
- In 2017, 56% of householders said they had last switched more than a year ago, potentially missing out on cheaper premiums
- In 2017, 28% of householders say they've never switched home insurance
Tenants’ insurance is pretty similar to home contents insurance, just for renters instead. Your landlord should take care of the buildings insurance.
Student home insurance
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.
New build home insurance
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.
Holiday home insurance
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.
Want more help? Jump into our expert guides
Some policies will cover items taken out of the home, like mobile phones, laptops and jewellery. If you want this facility, you may need to buy additional cover known as personal possessions or all-risks cover.
Here’s 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
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.
If you're renting a flat, you should consider a policy that protects your contents, and if the flat belongs to you then you need to think about building and contents cover. Whether you'll need buildings cover will depend on whether you're a freeholder or a leaseholder, and if there's any communal policy arrangements in place. Of course, we’ve got a full fat guide on flat insurance.
If you can't find a suitable quote or you need cover for an extended period of time, try our unoccupied property insurance guide.
This covers loss or damage of an accidental nature. With buildings insurance, this could cover an incident such as accidentally knocking a nail through a pipe, whereas contents insurance could cover paint spilt over a carpet or a valuable vase being smashed.
Exclusions such as normal wear and tear and accidental damage caused by pets usually apply and, whilst accidental damage cover is included with some policies, with others you might have to buy it as an add-on.
It's emergency cover for things like heating systems, plumbing and electrics. It can be invaluable when vital services go down, but this cover is entirely optional. Don't double up on it - check if you already have home emergency cover through your home insurance, or through another source such as a packaged bank account, before buying a separate policy.
Legal expenses cover provides protection against the costs of being sued or making a claim about someone else. All policies are different but most will cover legal proceedings that involve the insured home. This type of cover isn’t compulsory on home insurance but may be included as standard or as an added extra. Check the small print and look out for exclusions.
If you work from home in any capacity, it's essential to inform your home insurer. You won't necessarily have to take out additional cover, but not telling them could invalidate a future claim.
The excess is the amount of money you must pay if you make a claim on your home insurance.
Say you had something stolen from your home that was worth £250 and you have an excess of £150 on your home insurance. You’d give £150 to your insurer and they would stump up the other £100.
This is the excess that’s set by the insurance company. The idea behind it is to deter fraudulent claims. Not every home insurance policy will have a compulsory excess but it’s pretty common. Different parts of your home insurance may have different excesses.
Voluntary excess is the amount you agree to pay towards a claim in addition to the compulsory excess set by your insurer.
Why do it? Choosing a higher amount of voluntary excess when you take out your home insurance policy usuall means you get a lower premium. Make sure you can afford to pay it if the worst should happen and you need to make a claim though.