What are the different types of home insurance?
Home insurance protects your home and your belongings inside it. It is split into two parts:
Buildings insurance covers your home’s structure, including walls, the roof, fixtures and fittings, kitchens and bathroom units and doors and windows.
Contents insurance covers your belongings inside your home (including your garage or shed). In general, a contents insurance policy covers anything you can remove from your home, including carpets, curtains, white goods, furniture and light fittings. You can also cover clothes, electrical items and jewellery.
You can buy buildings and contents insurance separately, or you can buy them together as a combined policy ensuring both your property and your belongings are covered.
What does buildings and contents insurance cover?
You may not be covered if you cause damage to your property yourself by accident, or if you lose or have your belongings stolen outside the home – it’s worth checking your policy.
Do I need both buildings and contents insurance?
Home insurance is not a legal requirement. However, if you own or are about to buy a house or a block of flats, mortgage lenders will generally insist you have appropriate buildings insurance for the term of your mortgage.
Your lender may offer this alongside your mortgage, but you don’t have to buy buildings insurance directly from them, and it can be cheaper to shop around for a better quote.
If you own your home, a combined buildings and contents insurance policy would cover both the structural elements of your property and your belongings inside it – so this could be your best bet. However, there may be some circumstances where just purchasing contents insurance would be necessary:
If you own an individual flat: If you live in an apartment in a large block of flats, then unless you own part of the freehold, you won’t need buildings insurance. If you bought your flat on a leasehold, then consider taking contents cover so your belongings are protected.
If you rent: You won’t need buildings insurance as it’s your landlord’s responsibility to ensure the building is covered, but you should consider contents insurance to protect your belongings. If you’re renting a property or a room as a student, consider student contents insurance.
Is it cheaper to get buildings and contents insurance together?
If you are looking for both buildings and contents insurance for your home, then buying a combined policy is often cheaper than two separate ones.
According to MoneySuperMarket data, the average combined contents and buildings insurance cost £143.84. This is cheaper than buying two policies to cover buildings and contents insurance separately.
Does buildings and contents insurance cover accidental damage?
Accidents happen, but if, for example you break a glass window or a kitchen appliance, it may not always be covered by your home insurance.
It’s worth checking your policy to see if you’re covered for accidental damage, but if you’re not, most insurers will offer the option for you to include as part of your policy. It will cost you extra to add, but it may be worth the peace of mind.
How much should I insure my property and contents for?
Your home insurance quote will depend on many factors, such as the age and type of property you are looking to insure and where the property is, alongside any home security measures you have. But you can make sure you are not over-insuring your property.
For buildings insurance, it’s important you insure for the total rebuild cost, not the market value of your property. The rebuild cost is usually lower as the market value will account for the local area as well as the property itself - for example, proximity to public transport and schools and the crime rate. If you have recently bought your home the rebuild cost will be on your mortgage valuation or survey. If not, you can use the Building Cost Information Service rebuilding cost calculator, which you will find on MoneySuperMarket.
To calculate how much contents insurance you need, note the value of everything in each room – include soft furnishings such as rugs and curtains and other personal belongings such as clothing. Make sure you check the ‘single item limit’ on your policy. This is the maximum amount an insurer will pay for any individual item which is generally between £1,500 and £2,500, so if you own something worth more then you’ll need to name it separately.
How can I make my buildings and contents insurance cheaper?
There are ways you can cut the cost of your buildings and contents insurance.
Pay for your home insurance annually
If you pay for your home insurance in monthly instalments then your provider will often charge you interest, which will make it more expensive in the long run than paying for your policy in one lump sum.
Up your home security
Increase your excess
Your insurer will set a compulsory excess, which is a fixed amount that you will have to pay towards the cost of repair or replacement if you make a claim. You can choose to increase this so you pay more yourself towards a claim and this will typically reduce the cost of your premium. However, make sure you can afford to pay the excess should you have to make a claim.
Build up your no claims bonus
If you don’t make a claim on your insurance – or if you can avoid making a claim for small repairs – then you will build up your no claims bonus. When you have gone several years without making a claim, your insurer will often offer you a no claims discount on your premium.
Make sure you shop around to get the best deal for your specific needs. If your contents and buildings insurance is up for renewal, don’t auto-renew with your existing provider as your insurer may not necessarily offer the cheapest quote.
How do I get a buildings and contents insurance quote?
It’s quick and easy to compare home insurance quotes on MoneySuperMarket, to make sure you get the best deal.
Just pop in a few details about yourself and your home to compare not only the cheapest deals, but claims experience, quality scores and any additional features. You can use our filters to clearly show you what it would cost to pay for a policy annual compared to the cost in monthly instalments.
Once you have found the deal you want you can apply directly to get a new policy. Remember that the cheapest deal may not always provide the cover you specifically need so we recommend balancing your choice of quote between cost and cover.