What's your postcode doing to insurance costs?

Published:
04 October 2011
Topic:
News,Insurance,Home

Why does your postcode matter? It can affect where your children go to school; which doctor you can sign up for; what direct mail marketing literature you receive; the amount you pay for Council Tax...

And when it comes to insurance premiums your postcode is key. If you make a claim on your car or home insurance you can expect to pay more for cover the following year. However, other people can also affect the amount you pay as insurers look at claims statistics in the local area when calculating premiums.

The assumption is that insurance costs rise year on year and certainly when it comes to car insurance most people have seen significant increases in the amount they pay as premiums have soared by around 30% over the past year. However, the story is different when it comes to home insurance.

The average home insurance premium has actually fallen slightly over the past year analysis of nearly 3million quotes on MoneySupermarket has found. Premiums have decreased nationally by 0.4% to an average of £152, but if you drill down further the story differs depending on where you live.

Have premiums increased or decreased in your area?

Households in Jersey have seen the biggest drop in home insurance premiums. The average price islanders pay for buildings and contents cover has fallen from £148 to £121 - that's a drop of 13% and it is thought that falling crime rates and a relatively low number of claims are contributing factors.

Some other areas that have seen a reduction in premiums are perhaps surprising. Prices in South East London have dropped by 7% from an average of £180 to £167, while East London households are also paying less than last year. They've seen average premiums fall from £148 to £138. The regeneration taking place in these areas in preparation for the Olympics is probably one of the factors having a positive impact here.

It's a different story in Guernsey however, as prices there have leapt 32% to £158. Rising crime on the island is thought to be one of the main factors for this increase, along with the fact that premiums there last year were well below the national average.

Other areas where prices have risen include Stevenage, St Albans, Telford and Southend-on-Sea. Households in Southend appear to be paying significantly more than the national average for building and contents cover. The average premium there is £181, compared with £152 nationally.

Tips to keep costs down

Aside from moving house, there isn't really anything you can do to affect the postcode impact on the price you pay for home insurance but there are other things you can do to minimise your premium.

  • Shop around - The golden rule when taking out insurance is to compare prices before you buy as premiums can vary significantly. And don't just go with the renewal quote from your existing insurer as chances are you'll make savings by switching to a different provider. The easiest way to do this is to use a comparison site - the average saving is currently £123.
  • Change the locks - If you've recently moved to a new home you never know who might still have a key. It is important to maintain locks. Five-lever mortice locks are recommended for external doors while windows should ideally have two bolt locks.
  • Install a good home security system - Sometimes there are alarm systems that might be preferred by an insurer. The NACOSS standard alarm can cut premiums with some companies by 7.5%.
  • Join a neighbourhood watch campaign - this can help to reduce your premium if you inform the home insurance company of your participation in a scheme. It can reduce your premiums by up to 5%.

Cut the chance of having to make a claim on your home insurance

While there are steps you can take to minimise the amount you have to pay for your home insurance this year, if you want to keep your premiums down it's also worth doing everything you can to avoid having to make a claim:

  • Don't claim unless you need to - The fewer the claims, the higher your no claims discount. So for minor issues that would be inexpensive for you to cover with your own cash, think twice before making a claim.
  • Time-switch lights - Your home is more vulnerable to theft when you are not around. Time-switch lights will give the impression that you are at home.
  • If you are away - Remember to cancel newspaper and milk deliveries and ask someone you can trust to open and close the curtains and collect mail.
  • Keys - Don't leave them in obvious places such as under a doormat. Also beware of 'hook n crook' thefts - where keys are left so close to a door that a burglar can simply hook them through a letterbox and open the door.
  • Install security lighting - illuminate your visitors for their safety as well as your own. Unwelcome visitors are less likely to loiter if they're 'in the spotlight'.
  • Avoid frozen and burst pipes - If you think pipes are frozen, turn off water at the valve and header tank to cut down the water that can escape.
  • Fire - Fit a smoke alarm and take simple steps to avoid accidents. Most fires in the home are caused by smoking or cooking; never smoke in bed, don't leave cigarettes lying around and don't leave cooking unattended. Other fire tips include closing doors at night to contain fires, check the home is safe before going to bed and keep matches away from children.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.

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