If you want to save money on your home insurance, one of the best tips is to compare quotes from a range of different companies using an online comparison website. Remember to shop around at renewal too, as loyalty rarely pays. There are other steps you can take to ensure that you don't pay over the odds for cover.
Here are MoneySuperMarket's top tips:
- Combine buildings and contents cover. Insurers want your business, so if you take out buildings and contents insurance with the same firm, you can often negotiate a cheaper price.
- Cut out the frills. If you don't need any added insurance extras, you could reduce your premium by choosing a basic policy. Accidental damage cover, for example, can increase your premiums by as much as 25%.
- Pay your premiums annually. It can be convenient to spread your payments over monthly installments, but it is almost always more expensive because firms charge an additional admin fee. So try to make a one-off payment each year.
- Pay a bigger voluntary excess. Home insurance policies come with a compulsory excess, which is the amount you have to pay towards any claim. So, if there is an excess of £250, you would have to pay the first £250 of any claim. But you can also choose to pay a voluntary excess (this is on top of the compulsory excess). Opting to do so can bring the cost of your premium down. However, make sure the total excess is affordable in case you do have to make a claim.
- Secure your home. Insurers look favorably on customers who make their home secure because it reduces the likelihood of theft. A good tip is to install a burglar alarm. But not just any alarm.
Most firms will insist on an approved system before they will consider cutting the cost of cover. The NACOSS standard alarm, for example, can reduce premiums in some cases by as much as 7.5%.
- Locks are another important security device. Five-lever mortise locks are recommended for external doors; windows should ideally have two bolt locks. If you have just moved home, it's a good idea to change the locks because you never know who might still have keys to the property.
- It's also worth considering joining a neighbourhood watch scheme as it can reduce your premiums by up to 5%. Security lighting can also act as a deterrent because unwelcome visitors are less likely to loiter if they are 'in the spotlight'.
- Build up a no-claims discount. If you don't make any claims, you will usually earn a discount on your premiums. The no-claims discount can be valuable, adding up to a reduction of more than 50% after five years in some cases. So prevention is important.
- Your home is more vulnerable to theft when you are not around, so if you are going away it's wise to take extra precautions to minimise the risk of a claim.
- Time-switch lights will give the impression that you are at home and so deter burglars. Remember to cancel newspaper and milk deliveries & and ask someone you can trust to open and close the curtains and collect mail. Also, don't leave spare keys in obvious places such as under a doormat. Beware too of so-called '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.
- Fire safety is essential in any home – and smoke alarms should be fitted throughout your property. Check regularly that the device is working as 18 people die each year because the battery in their smoke alarm was flat or missing. Faulty electrics cause around 7,000 house fires across the country every year, so make sure there are no faulty wires or overloaded plug sockets. And always turn off electrical items at night. If you use candles, snuff them out properly to prevent fires – the same with cigarettes. Take care when cooking, too, and don't leave any pans unattended.
- Insulate your pipes. Burst water pipes are one of the most common causes of home insurance claims, so insulate pipes and tanks to prevent freezing in cold weather. It's also a good idea to ask a neighbour or friend to check on your house if you are away for a long period over the winter months. If you think pipes are frozen, turn off the water at the valve and header tank to cut down water leakage.
- Protect against floods. People who live in an area where flooding is a danger should follow the Environment Agency's advice to help protect their home and sign up to its flood warning scheme.
- Watch out for subsidence. If your home is affected by subsidence, it can work out expensive. Movement in the soil can increase the likelihood of subsidence so always seek professional advice if you decide to plant or chop down any trees. And if you spot any cracks, contact your insurer immediately before the problem gets any worse.
- Pay your own way. Think twice before making a claim. If it's only a minor repair it might be better to use your savings to sort out the problem and so protect your no-claims discount.
A good tip is to install a burglar alarm