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Is home insurance mandatory?

Do I need home insurance?

Collette Shackleton
Written by  Collette Shackleton
Alicia Hempsted
Reviewed by  Alicia Hempsted
5 min read
Updated: 29 Feb 2024

Wondering if you need home insurance? If you're a homeowner, tenant, or landlord, find out why you should seriously consider purchasing home insurance, and how to find the right cover for your circumstances in this guide.

When do I need home insurance?

Home insurance isn't a legal requirement, but it can help financially protect you in the event of a fire, flood, or theft. Last year alone, the ABI paid out £352million following storms Ciaran, Babet and Debi.

Without a home insurance policy, you would have to foot the bill for any loss or damage to the structure and contents of your home yourself. This could potentially be significantly higher than the cost of a home insurance policy.

home insurance row of houses

What type of home insurance do I need?

When purchasing home insurance, you can choose from:

  • Contents insurance: This includes everything in your home that you can take with you if you were to move house, such as your furniture, TV, appliances, and gadgets

  • Buildings insurance: This covers the structure of your property, including the walls, roof, floors, and any permanent fixtures such as kitchens and bathroom suites

  • A combined contents and buildings policy

You can also purchase useful add-ons to your policy at an additional cost, such as accidental damage protection.

Do I need home insurance if I take out a mortgage?

Most mortgage lenders insist you have buildings insurance before you exchange contracts, as once you have exchanged, you are legally responsible for the building.

Purchasing buildings insurance and starting your policy from the date you've exchanged offers a safety net if anything happens to the structure of your new home.

Contents insurance is completely optional and isn't necessary when taking out a mortgage. However, without this, you would be responsible for replacing your belongings if they are lost, damaged, or stolen.

Do I need home insurance if I’ve paid off my mortgage?

If you have paid off your mortgage and own your property, you are no longer bound by mortgage requirements to have home buildings insurance.

However, the costs of home repairs in the event of a flood, storm, or other unforeseen circumstances can be extortionate. So it's worth weighing this up against the cost of a building insurance policy, even if you own your home outright.

In terms of contents insurance, it's still completely up to you whether or not you choose to purchase this type of home insurance, regardless of whether you have a mortgage or not.

Do I need home insurance if I own a flat?

You may need home insurance or flat insurance if you own your flat. It all depends on whether you're the freeholder or a leaseholder.

If you're a freeholder:

If you own the freehold for your flat or a share of the freehold, then you're responsible for purchasing buildings insurance to protect the structure and exterior of your flat.

If you're a leaseholder:

If you're a leasehold flat owner, where you own the property for an agreed length of time, then you don't need to worry about taking out buildings insurance. This is the responsibility of the freeholder.

As a leaseholder, you may be asked to contribute a service charge, which may be used by the freeholder to cover buildings insurance protection for the entire block of flats.

It's important to check your agreement to make sure you're happy with the terms of your leasehold agreement and so you're clear on where the responsibility lies.

Contents insurance is also optional if you own a flat, regardless of whether you're a freeholder or a leaseholder.

Do I need home insurance if I rent?

If you rent your house or flat, you do not need to purchase buildings insurance, this is the landlord's responsibility. However, you are responsible for any personal belongings you keep within the property.

It's important to purchase contents insurance to protect your possessions if there is a burglary, or they're damaged in an unexpected event such as a fire or flood.

Do I need buildings insurance if I’m a landlord? 

There is no legal obligation for landlords to take out a buildings insurance policy. In fact, standard home insurance, including buildings and contents insurance, doesn't provide cover for rental properties.

If you have a mortgage on your rental property, you may be required by your lender to take out landlord insurance before taking on any tenants.

Even if you own the property outright, it's a sensible idea to purchase this type of insurance to provide protection for yourself in scenarios where your tenant might stop paying rent or damage the property, for example.

It is also down to the tenant to purchase their own contents insurance policy. You are not responsible for any personal belongings that they move into the property with them.

How can I get a home insurance quote?

You can get a quote in minutes from multiple providers when using a comparison site like MoneySuperMarket. This will help you find the best deal to suit your individual home insurance needs.

Plus, you can store your details and refresh your quote in seconds, making it easier to return and purchase your policy without having to start from scratch.

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