What is buildings insurance?
Buildings insurance covers the physical structure of your home – the bricks and mortar – and any permanent fittings or fixtures (from your doors to your kitchen sink).
151% of consumers could save up to £110.66 a year on buildings and contents insurance. Consumer Intelligence, July 2021.
Home insurance is reassurance. It protects your home and its contents against damage or theft if the unexpected happens. A home insurance policy helps cover the costs of any unavoidable harm to your home, like fire or flood damage, as well as replacing stolen valuables if you’re burgled.
Unlike car insurance, which you need to drive legally, home insurance isn’t a legal requirement for homeowners or renters. It’s a good choice though, providing peace of mind in case something goes wrong out of the blue.
If you’re taking out a mortgage, your lender will probably insist you get buildings insurance before they’ll loan you the money. If you’re a tenant, you’ll only need to cover your belongings – your landlord looks after the buildings cover.
Contents insurance protects the possessions in your home (like your TV, and the sofa you watch it from) against damage or theft – some policies cover your stuff while you’re out and about too.
You can take out your buildings and contents insurance with the same insurer to reduce the hassle, but you should always compare quotes to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
If you own your home outright, or are currently paying off a mortgage. You’ll be responsible for both the physical structure of your home and any belongings you have on the property
If you’re a private tenant in a rental property. You’ll only be responsible for your own belongings – you won’t need to take out buildings insurance as that will be up to your landlord
If you own a property and you’re renting it out. You’ll be legally responsible for the property’s condition, but will only need to cover the building and contents you provide
If you’re living in student accommodation, usually with other students. You might be covered by a parent or guardian’s home insurance policy, but this isn’t always the case
If you’re sharing a house or flat with other adults. Details about door locks and access points can affect premiums as shared households come with certain higher risks
If you own a holiday home that is otherwise unoccupied. You will likely need to take out specialised home insurance for properties that are empty for long periods of time
A few different things can affect how much your home insurance costs, including:
Get quotes from a few different insurers – we work with over 55 companies to help you find the best deal for you
You can usually get a no-claims discount if you’ve gone several years without making a claim
Paying for your insurance all in one go works out cheaper than paying monthly, so it’s worth doing if you can afford to
Asking for a higher excess tells insurers that you’re less likely to claim, so you get a lower premium
Standard contents insurance will protect your possessions inside your home, but not always when you’re out and about. ‘Away-from-home’ covers things like laptops or mobile phones for damage, theft and loss when you're on the go
Whether you’re a serious cyclist or a committed commuter, it’s reassuring to know your wheels are protected. A bike insurance add-on covers theft (as long as you’ve locked your bike up somewhere sensible) and repairs if you have an accident
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Like your date of birth and email address, plus details of any home insurance claims you’ve made in the last five years
The type of property it is, the number of rooms and when it was built, the type of roof it has, and if there are any trees nearby
How many people live in the property, when they're usually at home, and if anyone is a smoker
The cost of rebuilding your home from scratch if the worst happened and it was destroyed beyond repair
The estimated cost of replacing your contents if they were damaged, lost or stolen
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Protect your home with a burglar alarm, secure door and window locks, and a safe – especially if you live in a burglary hotspot
Unoccupied homes are at a higher risk of being burgled or damaged by fire or escaped water
Insulating your pipes reduces the risk of damage when they freeze and thaw in cold weather
Fitting smoke alarms around your home isn’t just common sense in safety terms, it can also lower your insurance premiums
"Home insurance is a great way to protect your home and belongings against the things we can’t plan for. We'll help you find the right cover for your home, whether it's protection in the event of a flood or fire, insurance for an unoccupied property, or help with a burst pipe in the middle of the night - so you can rest easy and concentrate on the things that matter most."
- Kate Devine, head of home insurance
Each home is different, so standard home insurance might not be right for everyone. You might need a specialised home insurance policy if you’re looking to get cover for:
Coronavirus has meant we’ve been spending more time at home than ever, but it’s unlikely that this has had an effect on your home insurance policy. Find out more from our home insurance and coronavirus guide.
Home insurance protects your property’s structure and contentsagainst loss, theft or damage caused by flooding, fire, storms, subsidence and escaped water. This means you’ll be able to claim repair or replacement costs for most of the following, depending on your policy.
You aren’t required by law to have either buildings or contents insurance, but it’s always useful to have protection in case something unexpected happens. If you have a mortgage, your lender should insist that you take out buildings insurance for the whole mortgage term – but you can find it from other sources too, including price comparison websites such as MoneySuperMarket.
To calculate how much cover you need from your home insurance policy, you’ll need to account for:
If you’re a tenant you’ll only need to take out a renters insurance policy – this will let you cover your personal belongings. Your landlord should have their own buildings cover in place, and while they may also have a contents policy this will only apply to items they’ve supplied for the property, such as furniture.
There are different types of trusts available depending on your individual or family circumstances.
Putting your life insurance policy in trust also protects the payout from inheritance tax.
Listed buildings are properties of historical or architectural significance, and you’ll often need to take out a specialised listed building policy as many insurers don’t offer standard cover for these buildings.
Yes, your credit score can affect the price you pay for home insurance. Insurance companies look at your credit history to know how much of a risk they’re taking with you and to come up with the appropriate rates.
When we’re at home, our personal possessions are normally protected by home contents insurance but this doesn’t usually cover them when you’re out of the house. Different policies offer different cover but often you have to pay extra to cover possessions that you take out of the home, like jewellery or gadgets, for example. A personal possessions insurance policy covers your personal belongings against loss, damage, or theft when you take them outside your home.
Calculating the rebuild cost of your home is a necessary part of getting a home insurance quote. The rebuild cost is the amount of money required to reconstruct your home from the foundations up, if for example your property was damaged or destroyed in a fire or flood. A chartered surveyor can help you calculate the cost, or alternatively you could search for a rebuild calculator online.
If you're having any major building work done on your house, you will need to let your house insurance provider know. If you don’t tell your insurer your home is undergoing renovation, you may find that your policy is invalid in the event of a claim.
Some home insurance policies will cover water leaks, while others won’t. And even policies that include cover may exclude some elements of a claim related to a leak. It's important to read the terms of your policy before you buy to ensure you know what you’re covered for.
Home insurance typically covers unoccupied property, for up to 60 days – and if anything happens outside this period you won’t be covered. An unoccupied home insurance policy covers you when your home is empty for longer than your standard policy will allow.
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