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Home insurance might not be required by law, but it is definitely a good thing to have. In fact, many mortgage lenders will not work with you unless you have at least the minimum level of buildings insurance in place.
Home insurance is more than just cover for your home. Some policies simply cover the building’s structure, while the most comprehensive home insurance policies can cover everything up to (and including) your smartphone and mountain bike.
Whether you are looking for contents insurance, buildings insurance or wondering what other optional extras you can add to your policy we can help you find a great deal on your home cover policy.
For more information, read our guide on the average cost of home insurance.
What is home insurance?
Owning a home can feel like risky business, but for most of us, our houses are the most valuable asset we own, meaning it would be absolutely devastating should something happen to it.
That’s why the most comprehensive home insurance policies are designed to protect both the building and the contents inside.
Whether your home is a victim of robbery, damaged by fire, hit by flash floods or damaged in another way, home insurance is on hand to help.
However, it’s worth remembering that not all home insurance policies are the same and some are designed to protect different parts of your home.
What are the different levels of home insurance?
There are a number of different homeowner’s insurance policies on the market, which can make it confusing when it comes to taking out cover.
Below, we will discuss the range of home insurance policies available to you in a simple, jargon-free manner to help you understand which policy you should opt for.
Buildings insurance simply protects the bricks and mortar of your home.
It can help you if your property is damaged after a fire or flood and also provides cover in the event of a break-in. Buildings insurance does not cover the contents inside your home - it is restricted to only covering its structure and any fixtures and fittings (ceilings, floors, doors and windows etc.).
The best buildings insurance policies will pay out for any structural damage, all the way up to an entire rebuild if necessary.
Buildings insurance is only required by those who own their homes and shouldn’t be necessary for those who rent. However, it is always better to check this with your insurance provider first.
Contents insurance is designed to protect the contents held within your home.
Having your personal belongings damaged or stolen can be devastating, whether that is a cherished collection of CDs, furniture or an expensive piece of jewellery, but the right contents insurance policy can help to relieve that devastation.
On top of a standard contents insurance policy, there is the option to take out cover for items like antiques, artwork and jewellery as well as more expensive possessions which, in most cases, need to be stated separately.
Some contents insurance providers also provide cover for items that are taken outside of the home, such as smartphones, laptops and bicycles, for example.
Combined Buildings and Contents Insurance
The most comprehensive (and therefore most popular) type of home insurance is a combination of both buildings and contents cover.
Also referred to as home and contents insurance cover, this type of policy covers everything mentioned under both buildings insurance and contents insurance.
What is the best home insurance for me?
When it comes to buying home insurance, the only way to determine your necessary level of cover is by assessing your individual circumstances.
You will also need to provide the reinstatement amount of your home – the amount it would cost to rebuild your house
Buildings insurance is usually the minimum level of cover required by most mortgage lenders, as it can help to protect their investment in the property – even small amounts of damage can rack up extreme costs.
While buildings insurance will cover any damage done to the property itself, it won’t help when it comes to damaged or stolen items within your home - this is what contents insurance is for and it allows homeowners to protect their belongings.
If the worst were to happen, would you be able to afford to replace your most valuable possessions? Think of everything from electronics to white goods, sofas to bedframes – for the majority of people, contents insurance is a valuable asset.
If your home is rented then there is every chance that your landlord will have buildings insurance in place, but it’s unlikely that they’ll have contents insurance as well, so make sure your belongings are fully covered.
Different types of home insurance
Homes are owned by a number of different people for a number of different reasons. Therefore, it is nigh-on impossible for a standard policy to provide the relevant cover for the 25 million homes across the UK.
That’s why there are a few variations of home insurance, including:
Landlord insurance (or buy-to-let insurance) – this covers the common risks attached to renting out a property, while add-ons such as ‘loss of earnings from rent’ and ‘accidental damage cover’ are also available.
Student insurance – most student accommodation will already have buildings insurance, but student contents insurance can help to cover the cost of any damaged or stolen items while away at university.
Listed buildings insurance – listed buildings are more expensive to rebuild and are classified as ‘non-standard’ homes, requiring a specialist home insurance policy.
Over 50s home insurance – Those aged over 50 might benefit from getting cover from a specialist provider as statistics show that they make fewer claims, thus making insurance premiums cheaper.
Guest house insurance – Guest house home insurance policies typically cover both building and contents, while they also offer optional cover for legal costs, loss of income and accidental damage.
Flood insurance – Around 2 million UK homes are at threat of flood damage, which is why specialist flood insurance (aided by the government’s ‘Flood Re’ scheme) is available to cover the costs associated with drying a home, removing debris and repairing damage.
Holiday home insurance – As a holiday home is not your permanent place of residence, it requires specialist insurance. Whether you’re renting it out or using it in the summer months, holiday home insurance provides comprehensive cover.
Unoccupied house insurance – If your house is left unlived in for more than 30 days, you’ll need to consider taking out a specialist unoccupied house insurance policy. If not, your property might not be covered while you’re away.
Home insurance add-ons
Sometimes, a standard home insurance policy isn’t enough to provide complete protection for your property and possessions.
By personalising your cover to suit your needs, you can make sure that you’re covered for an array of different circumstances. These include:
Accidental damage – Probably the most popular add-on, accidental damage helps to cover the costs of any unexpected and non-deliberate actions that cause damage to your property (for example, spilling red wine on your cream carpet).
Legal protection – If somebody is injured on your property, be that from falling down the stairs or tripping in the garden, they may wish to sue. Legal expenses cover will cover any costs associated with this, as well as provide help in other situations where disputes may arise, for things like disruptive neighbours or boundary disagreements, for example.
Bicycle cover – If you share a home with a family of bike enthusiasts, there’s a fair chance that you’ve spent a lot of money on bicycles over the years. Most standard policies will cover the cost of a stolen bike if taken from a locked garage, but for protection while you’re out and about, you’ll need bicycle cover.
Alternative accommodation – If your property becomes uninhabitable, you may not have somewhere else to stay. If this is the case, alternative accommodation cover will pay for you and your family to stay elsewhere while your home is being repaired.
Home emergency cover – Burst pipe or broken down boiler? Home emergency cover will pay for the call-out, labour and materials used by a tradesperson when an urgent repair is required.
Protected no-claims bonus – The fewer claims you make, the cheaper your insurance is. With a protected no-claims bonus, you’ll be able to keep hold of your cheaper premiums even after making a claim.
Personal possessions cover – There are certain items, such as jewellery, laptops and smartphones, which aren’t designed to be confined to your home. Personal possessions cover will protect these items even when you take them out with you.
Remember, all of these useful additions are optional and will increase the cost of your premiums when added to a home insurance policy. Think carefully about which ones you need and which ones you probably wouldn’t make use of.
What do I need to get a home insurance quote?
It doesn’t take long to get a home cover quote, but there are a few things that you’ll need to have on-hand when shopping around:
Details about the property – This includes address, build date and the date that you moved in.
Locks/alarms – Many insurers will ask you what type of locks you have on any external-facing doors and whether you have any alarms fitted.
Previous claims – As stated in your renewal documents. If you don’t have them to hand, contact your previous insurer.
Rebuild cost – Some insurers will generate this automatically, but it’s wise to have a rough idea of the rebuild value in your head for comparison. For a more accurate estimate, hire a chartered surveyor.
Contents value – If you’re looking for a contents insurance policy, you’ll need to state how much you wish to be covered for.
Expensive items – Most insurers have a ‘per-item claim limit’. If the value of any of your possessions exceeds this limit, be sure to state them separately.
Type of roof – The materials used on your roof (tile, slate, asphalt, etc.)
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