Picture a familiar scene: You’re moving home, so it’s a given that you’re presently stood in what was once your living room marooned in a sea of cardboard boxes of varying sizes, a marker in one hand, a blank label in the other, considering your next move.
So far this whole moving house episode is being run like a military operation, with a similar level of precision if not aggression. Although the latter may surface at any time, as inter-family tensions flare when someone forgets to label a particular box which now requires strategic un-taping and re-opening to work out what’s actually in it. Your solicitor and estate agent are on speed-dial, the kettle is in meltdown, and you’ve probably sprouted a few more grey hairs.
Drama aside – and not that we wish to pile even more woes on top of your existing, badly stacked woes – but it’s prudent that we remind you of your other obligations as a time like this, and before you go any further. These centre round the subject of home contents and building insurance policies.
We admit, this is neither sexy nor exciting, but then again neither is squatting across the top of a cardboard box which just won’t flatten enough to be able to seal it with the end of roll-nearing heavy duty sellotape you’re currently wielding in anger and resentment. So bear with us on this…
Buildings and contents insurance is a vitally important consideration in the heat of house-moving battle, and as such it’s imperative that you keep your provider updated with your every move. And ideally to have done this well in advance of the removals truck rolling up outside your current gaff in readiness to load everything but the kitchen sink within its capacious inner transportational sanctum. And that’s for the overriding reason that your buildings and home content insurer (whether bunched together or separate entities working independently of each other) need to be kept informed from the outset for a variety of factors; not least because they’ll need to transfer the cover to your new home.
Preparation, preparation, preparation. The 3 golden rules of relocation
With this in mind it’s also worth remembering that you (yes, you there clasping the marker pen) assume full legal responsibility for the new property you’re all set to move into from the very moment you exchange contracts to purchase said building. Often homeowners on the cusp of relocating commit the serial error of wrongly believing everything’s in hand until the very day of completion. Unfortunately the computer says no, and if you don’t heed this advice then there’s every chance that the bricks and mortar at your soon-to-be-new home could lie in a state of un-insurance for days, possibly even weeks as a result of this negligence on the policyholder’s part.
We therefore advise those of you thinking about upping sticks any time soon to refer to your specific home contents and buildings insurance policy documents to ensure you are following the pre-requisitional protocol and adhering to your insurer’s guidelines from the get-go.
More than this you should contact them as soon as you have an inkling that your proposed relocation will be rubber-stamped and convey your new address details, including that all-important postcode ASAP.
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You’ll find that in most cases a building and home content insurance provider will extend cover to your old/existing property until such time as you formally exchange with the purchaser, as well as covering the new property from the moment you exchange with the seller. Having said that, don’t take it as read and instead check with your insurer that protection is afforded the two locations to allow for any potential time overlap.
Addressing the twin primary concerns – buildings insurance and home contents – it’s in your best interests to think about the implications a house move would have on both. In the case of your buildings policy – and when looking to insure bricks and mortar generally – it’s vital that you provide the rebuild cost of your new gaff, as opposed to the current market valuation. As this alone forms the basis of the sum insured element of this specific mainstream policy, and will be markedly different from what you just paid for it.
This figure can be discovered within the pages of your survey documentation, under the heading of ‘mortgage lender’s valuation’, while the Association of British Insurers’ website also lists rebuild values – you can also read our guide on how to calculate your home’s rebuild cost.
Contents insurance is an altogether different beast, as it protects your personal possessions, belongings, keepsakes and Cycling Proficiency certificate against a number of unpredictable scenarios out of your control.
Such as damage or loss incurred during transit between abodes, old and new.
An increasing number of home contents insurers will stipulate that the policyholder arrange the transportation through a professional removals firm and that any fragile items destined to be en route is packed by the professionals.
For their part the removals firm might well offer what’s called ‘goods in transit’ insurance cover, whilst if you decide to store some bigger items until you have settled in to your new place you could be in the position to sign-up for some dedicated storage insurance.
To help you get to grips with everything that is required when you are moving house, we’ve put together the below checklist…
Renew what you did last summer
Seek out new quotations on both your buildings and home contents insurance policies each and every time you renew, especially when on the move. That’s because postcode changes will more often than not mean different premium prices, hopefully downsizing regardless of whether your new property is upsizing your existing one. In the fabled words of TV home-finders, it’s always about the location, location, location in one way or another. Admittedly if you’re only part way through your current policy term at the time of moving then you’ll bear the financial brunt of a cancellation fee to do the dirty, but this could still work well to your long term advantage.
Security-ness is next to Godliness
Not quite, but it will go a very long way in ensuring that your new buildings and home contents insurance premiums are more competitively priced henceforth. Check that your next gaff has adequate door and window locks in place and that the house alarm is in full working order. You may wish to add in new security features like a CCTV system, rather than a barbed wire fence.
Paper over the cracks before they start to appear
Meaning, check in with your current bank/building society, credit card/personal loan provider, TV licence provider, inland revenue, council tax provider, landline/broadband/mobile telephone providers, present employers, DVLA, utilities companies (water, gas, electricity) AND your other insurance firms (motor, health, life, etc) prior to unpacking your picture frames and games console at the other end.
Cooey, over here!
Get all over the Royal Mail’s bespoke redirection service a good few weeks before you jump ship, and remember to let it continue for at least a year to make sure that you get any annual renewal notices sent out in the meantime.
Draw up a scale plan of every room in your new house so that the removal team will know exactly which box should go where. In theory. Perhaps colour code the packing boxes, bubble-wrapped furniture and that weird taxidermist-stuffed squirrel in the hope that this proactivity encourages them to place the right belonging in the right room.
Leave a trail of instruction in your wake
It’s neighbourly to compile a fact file for the incoming homeowners of the house you’re vacating, complete with instruction guides and service information leaflets for everything from the heating system through to in-built appliances. Couple this with notes on rubbish collection, milk delivery and recycling box-collecting dates to really prove that good neighbours can become good friends. Although you won’t be living next door to them. but you know what we mean.