If you live in a five-bedroom house or if you’re buying one, you’ll need appropriate cover for what is likely to be your biggest financial asset.
You can also often get a discount if you buy both your buildings and contents cover from the same insurer.
Buildings insurance: Insuring your bricks and mortar
Buildings insurance covers the structure of your property, so the walls, doors, roof and any permanent fixtures and fittings such as showers and toilets.
As a rule of thumb, it covers anything you would leave behind if you were to move house, but there are exceptions. Carpets, for example, come under contents insurance because in theory you could roll them up and take them with you when you move.
If you are a home owner and have a mortgage on your property, the lender will almost always insist that buildings insurance is in place when you exchange contracts. This is because they are granting you the loan based on the value of your property, and want to be sure the cost of a rebuild or repairs are covered should anything happen.
It’s not compulsory to have buildings insurance if you are mortgage-free and own your home outright, but many owners still do as rebuilding a home after an accident is very expensive.
If you are a leaseholder, then you should check the terms of your lease. You may be obliged to take out buildings insurance or your freeholder may take out the policy and charge you for it.
Tenants don’t have to worry about buildings insurance because it is the responsibility of the landlord, but should still consider contents insurance, as we shall see, below, and also consider that they might be liable under their contract for any damage to fixtures and fittings.
What does buildings insurance cover?
Policies can also cover damage to garages, sheds and fences, and even vehicle and aircraft collisions.
Insurers often offer different levels of cover, from basic to premium packages. The more comprehensive the buildings insurance cover, the higher the premiums will be.
Five-bedroom properties tend to be larger homes and would cost more to rebuild, leading to higher premiums. You can also typically buy additional extras such as accidental damage.
Why is the sum insured important?
Put simply, the sum insured should be enough to cover the cost of rebuilding your home if, for example, it was burned to the ground. It’s not the same as the sale or market price of the property. In fact, it’s often a lot lower, because it doesn’t take into account the value of the land or local amenities
The sum insured is the maximum the policy will pay out, so it needs to be accurate. If it’s too low, you could end up with an insurance shortfall. If it’s too much, you could end up paying for cover you don’t need.
How do I calculate the rebuild cost?
You can often find how much it will cost to rebuild your five-bedroom home on your mortgage documents. As you complete a quotation on our website, we will also provide an estimated rebuild value using your postcode and information from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
There's also an online calculator available on the Association of British Insurers' website that you could use.
Some insurers don’t bother with the rebuild cost and instead base the sum insured on the number of bedrooms in the property.
However, it’s always worth checking the accuracy of the figure to make sure you are getting value for money.
A number of insurers also offer so-called unlimited cover with no maximum payout. It means you don’t have to worry about calculating a rebuild cost, but unlimited cover often works out more expensive.
Remember that the rebuild cost will change over time, particularly if you have any alterations made to the property, so it’s important to keep it up to date.
What if I own a listed building?
If your five-bedroom home is listed or it has unusual features, such as a thatched roof, you might need help from a surveyor to work out the rebuild cost. You might also need a specialist policy as not all insurers are happy to cover old or non-standard properties.
What does contents insurance cover?
Most people choose to insure the contents of their home as well as its structure against risks such as theft, fire and flood. After all, in today’s high-tech world, our houses are often full of expensive gadgets.
It’s therefore important to make sure you buy enough contents cover. Some insurers calculate the sum insured based on the number of bedrooms in the property, but the easiest way to work out the value of your contents is to conduct a room-by-room inventory.
Don’t forget to include the shed and the garage because we often store valuable possessions such as bicycles or lawnmowers outside. It might be worth a peek in the loft, too.
What are single-item limits?
The sum insured is the maximum the policy will pay out, but some firms also impose an individual item limit.
Let’s say you have a sum insured of £50,000 and thieves steal a camera worth £1,500, a watch at £1,000 and a £3,000 laptop from your home.
You might assume the policy would have it covered, but if the insurer has a single-item limit of £2,000, it will pay out only £2,000 for the laptop and you will be left with a shortfall of £1,000.
Always check the individual item limit before you take out contents cover for your five-bedroom home. You can often negotiate a higher limit if necessary, but you will probably also have to pay a higher premium.
Should I take out accidental damage cover?
You might have to pay more if you want to include accidental damage cover, in case you spill wine on the carpet or accidentally knock over an antique vase. You might also want to boost your policy to cover possessions such as tablets and mobile phones when you take them out of the home.
Most insurers offer new for old cover. So, if your sofa is damaged by fire, the policy will pay out for new one. However, some firms take into account wear and tear – known as indemnity cover.
If your sofa is five years old, the policy would therefore pay out only its current value. Policies arranged on an indemnity basis are usually cheaper, but many people prefer new for old cover.
Why you should check the terms and conditions
The small print of your home insurance will give details of the policy terms and conditions – and it is important you read them, so you are not caught out
Most firms, for example, do not cover a property if it is left empty for more than 30 consecutive days. You might also have to fit approved locks on your doors and windows. Solid house locks deter burglars, so insurers judge your home as being safer. Read our guide on How house locks affect your home insurance here.
Compare home insurance
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All you need to do is supply a few details about yourself, your home and your possessions and we will search the market for a deal that works for you.