What is buildings insurance?
Buildings insurance offers financial protection for the structure of your home.
It covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding the permanent bits of your home if they’re damaged, or destroyed, by an unexpected event like a fire or a flood.
The exact cover you can get varies, but it’s not uncommon to get cover for things like:
- The structure of your home (e.g. the ceilings, floors, walls, roof, windows and doors)
- Fixtures and fittings (e.g. fitted bathroom suites and kitchen units)
- Outdoor constructions like garages, gates and fences
- Drains, pipes, tanks and cables from the mains supply to your property that you're responsible for
Do I need buildings insurance?
There’s no legal requirement to insure your building. But it’s usually a condition of getting approved for a mortgage.
Even if it’s not compulsory, it’s important to consider whether you could afford to rebuild your home if the worst happened and it was destroyed.
If you’re renting the property, then you won’t need to buy buildings insurance. It’s the landlord’s responsibility.
Who might need it?
Homeowners with a mortgage
Most mortgage lenders will insist you take out buildings insurance to get a mortgage. The same is true if you ever decide to remortgage in the future.
Homeowners without a mortgage
If you own your property outright, then it’s up to you whether you take out buildings cover.
Who doesn't need it?
Leasehold flat owners
If you’re leasing a property, the owner of the freehold should have insured the building already. You may contribute towards the buildings insurance through a service charge though.
You won't need buildings insurance if you rent the property. It’s the responsibility of your landlord, but you may want your own tenants contents insurance to protect your belongings.
If you rent out a property, you may want to consider dedicated landlord buildings insurance. Standard home buildings insurance won't be enough to cover you.
How much should I insure my home for?
You should insure your home for its rebuild cost. This is the amount it would cost to rebuild your home from the ground up if it was destroyed by an insured event, like a fire or flood. It’s called the sum insured on your policy documents.
The figure should include the cost of demolishing and clearing away the remaining property, as well as rebuilding it to its existing design and specification.
You may find the rebuild cost on your mortgage valuation or the title deeds if you’ve recently bought your home.
When you compare quotes with us, you’ll be able to use our rebuild cost calculator. Alternatively, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has a rebuild cost calculator you can use, or you can hire a chartered surveyor to help you calculate your home’s rebuild costs and the buildings sum insured.
Remember that the rebuild cost is not the same as your home’s market value - the price your home would sell for now.
What does buildings insurance cover?
The cost of repairing, rebuilding or replacing any part of your home’s structure that’s damaged by fire and smoke.
Structural damage that occurs due to severe high winds, torrential rainfall, hail or heavy snow may be covered.
Cover for flooding as a result of burst rivers or heavy rainfall.
Covers leakage from water or oil pipes and tanks that have burst. It may also include the cost of finding and repairing leaks. Most buildings insurance policies also include cover for damage to underground pipes, drains and cables that you’re legally responsible for.
Most policies cover loss and damage caused by subsidence, heave or landslip. You won’t be covered if it's been caused by riverbank or coastal erosion, water escaping from pipes or failure to disclose existing subsidence when the policy is purchased.
Covers any damage to your property caused by a break-in, such as if an intruder smashes windows or damages doors to gain entry.
This compensates you if your home is damaged due to a vehicle colliding with your home, or damage caused by an animal or aircraft, for example.
Things like your drive, patio, and garden items that are permanently fixed into the ground - like gazebos, garden ponds, statues and fountains.
Policies can include cover for other permanent structures on your land such as garages, sheds, greenhouses and outbuildings.
Most policies provide some compensation for damage caused by falling trees and branches, aerials and satellite dishes. But you wouldn’t be covered if it was due to tree lopping or felling.
What’s not covered?
Your policy will detail circumstances that you can’t claim for. These are known as your exclusions. Usually this will include:
- General wear and tear and breakdowns
- Wet rot, dry rot or frost damage
- Fences, gates or hedges damaged in a storm
- Poor workmanship or faulty design
- Damage that occurs if your home is left empty for a long period, often 30 consecutive days
Buildings insurance optional extras
If your policy doesn’t include cover for things like accidental damage or legal expenses as standard, you can usually add them as an optional extra for a fee.
Common optional extras include:
Accidental damage cover
Damage for accidentally drilling through a pipe or spilling red wine on a rug, for example.
Alternative accommodation cover
Pays for a place to stay if your home becomes uninhabitable due to an insured event.
Covers legal costs if someone is injured on your property or if you have a boundary dispute with a neighbour.
Home emergency cover
This is cover for the repair of broken-down boilers, faulty electrics or blocked drains.
Replacement locks and keys
Covers the cost of replacing your locks or keys if they’re lost or stolen.
Trace and access cover
Pays for removing and replacing any part of your building to find the source of a water or oil leak from your heating or water system.
How much does buildings insurance cost?
Our customers pay £141 on average for buildings insurance*, but several factors – like where you live and the type of home you have – will affect the price you pay.
The number of bedrooms you have is a good indicator, so here’s how much your buildings insurance could cost depending on the number of bedrooms**:
- One bedroom: £134
- Two bedrooms: £128
- Three bedrooms: £154
- Four bedrooms: £210
- Five bedrooms: £306
*The average price paid annually for home insurance purchased in June 2023 by type of cover. For buildings and contents insurance, it was £180. For buildings insurance only, it was £141. For contents insurance only, it was £66.
**The average median cost of combined buildings and contents insurance policies by number of bedrooms purchased through Gocompare from 1 Jan 2023 to 31 March 2023.
What details do you need to get a quote?
Your age, occupation and whether you have any children or pets
About your home
Your property’s age, location building materials and if it’s listed, timber-framed, or has a flat or thatched roof
The rebuild cost of your property
This is the cost of rebuilding your property to the same specification if it was demolished. The cost determines how much cover you need
Claims for burglary, vandalism, fire, subsidence, water or storm damage in the last five years will need to be declared. Failure to do so could invalidate your policy
If your property is fitted with smoke alarms and burglar alarms, it may help reduce your premium
Your proximity to water
Having a property in a flood risk area may require you to give extra information to the insurer
Frequently asked questions
1. Shop around
Compare buildings insurance policies and providers with us to get the best cover for your needs.
2. Combine policies
Think about buying your buildings and contents insurance together, from one provider.
Insurers usually offer discounts on combined policies. And it also makes things easier if you have to claim for something that’s affected both your home (the building) and its contents.
3. Don’t over insure
When you compare home insurance quotes, you’ll need to declare your home’s rebuild cost.
Overestimating the cost could mean you’re paying more than you need for buildings insurance.
Remember it’s the cost of rebuilding your home from the ground up, not your home’s current market value.
4. Pay annually
Paying monthly is almost always more expensive than paying for your home insurance up front in one lump sum. Insurers often charge interest when you pay in monthly instalments.
Buildings insurance covers the structure of your property, along with its fixtures and fittings. Contents insurance is cover for your possessions - items including your furniture, TV, jewellery and clothes.
You can purchase buildings and contents insurance separately, or together as a combined home insurance policy.
You won’t be covered for any damage that occurs when your house has been left unoccupied for longer than the period detailed in your policy. This is usually 30 consecutive days.
Most policies won’t cover damp and condensation, but it’s worth checking your policy details.
No, your landlord should have buildings insurance. But as a renter you might want to think about protecting your belongings with contents insurance.
Yes, most buildings insurance policies cover damage that’s the result of natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding and severe storms.
Yes, the rebuild cost is how much you would need to pay to rebuild your home from scratch, while the market value is the price your home would sell for on the current property market. Your home’s market value is likely to be higher than the rebuild cost, so make sure you base your buildings sum insured on the latter, or you could be overinsured and paying more than you need to.
Most UK homes are constructed from brick or stone with a tile or slate roof. These are regarded as of ‘standard’ construction.
Insurers treat homes that fall outside of this type as of ‘non-standard construction’. They can include homes with thatched roofs, steel or timber-framed houses and prefabricated homes. Repair costs for these types of homes can be costly, so buildings insurance can be more expensive and there’ll be less choice of insurers. Some will refuse to cover non-standard homes.
It won’t be considered as a room, but it should be covered by your buildings insurance. Policies are designed to cover permanent structures on your land, which should include your garage and any other outbuildings. You’ll be asked about outbuildings when you get a quote for your policy.
Yes, you can get buildings insurance if your home is at risk of flooding. Together with the government, the ABI launched the Flood Re scheme to help providers offer more affordable home insurance policies for people living in high-risk flood areas. Under the scheme, insurers can recoup a proportion of the flood claims they pay out from the Flood Re fund, so they can offer cheaper cover as a result.
Yes, most policies will cover your home for loss and damage due to subsidence, but it won’t usually pay to prevent further subsidence.
If you have a property with a history of subsidence, there are insurers that will offer you cover, but policies may be more expensive than usual.
You need to let your insurer know about any building work you’re having done so they can assess whether your policy needs to be updated or changed. Home extensions and renovation work can affect the rebuild value of your property, which can cause your premium to increase. That’s because your insurer would have to pay more to rebuild your home if it were destroyed.
Most policies won’t cover accidental damage that happens to your home as a result of building work. Make sure your builders have their own liability insurance that covers their work and any damage they may do to your property.
You can usually find out when your home was built by checking:
- A homebuyer survey
- Your mortgage offer
- HM Land Registry
- With your neighbour, estate agent or seller
You don’t need to buy buildings insurance for a property you don’t own. It’s the homeowner’s responsibility to arrange and pay for it.
No. Although it’s normally a condition set by your mortgage provider that you have buildings insurance in place, you don’t need to buy a policy through them. It’s a good idea to compare policies from multiple providers to find the best deal and fit for your needs.
That depends on the terms of your lease. Usually, the freeholder pays for buildings insurance and the leaseholders pay a share of it via a service charge.
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