Home insurance premiums continue to climb
- Latest data shows the average price of combined buildings and contents insurance stood at £144 at the end of 2020
- Premiums remain high, adding nearly £20 to an average policy compared to three years ago
- Buildings-only policies cost an average £111 while contents insurance stood at £65
Home insurance premiums remained high in the fourth quarter of 2020 – October, November and December. The average price of combined buildings and contents insurance stands at £144 having increased for the last four years. Premiums for home insurance remain high despite a small decrease of 1.22% on the previous quarter.
The average price of combined buildings and contents
In Q4 2020
Home insurance premiums remain close to their highest point since 2013, having risen steadily in the last few years.
At the end of 2016 the typical cost of an annual combined buildings and contents policy was just under £116. As we move into the first months of 2021 this has risen by nearly £30 – an increase of 24% in four years.
While the rate of increase year-on-year has slowed and is down 1.22% compared to the previous three-month period, premiums for home insurance are high and show little sign of falling much significantly in the short term despite the fact average premiums have declined marginally across all regions in England, Scotland and Wales simultaneously for the first time since 2018.
Building and contents as separate policies
Buildings-only policies continue to see premium increases. Year-on-year, average prices have risen by 3%, from £108.49 to £111.41.
Year-on-year, contents-only policies decreased by 2% from £66.18 to £64.52.
Combined policies often do not reflect the increase in separate buildings and contents policies because insurers often provide a premium discount to customers who buy both elements together.
Why do premiums remain high?
There are several possible drivers behind the continued high home insurance premiums recorded during Q4 of 2020.
Successive lockdown restrictions due to Covid-19 lockdown may have played a part. Many people are spending increased periods at home – working, schooling, doing DIY and even exercising – so the rate of accidental damage is likely to have been much higher than usual – and more claims spell higher costs for insurers.
Homeowners and landlords could have been forced to delay necessary repairs or put temporary fixes in place, as tradespeople and materials may be in short supply in the lockdown. But this may have led to higher claim numbers when inevitably temporary fixes failed and things went wrong.
On the flipside lockdowns likely mean fewer house burglaries and a reduction in common ‘escape of water’ claims (with people at home to detect leaks before serious damage is caused). This could suggest home insurers received fewer of these types of claims last year.
It should also be noted that accidental damage is often a bolt-on to standard home insurance policies which many policyholders may not have.
Finally, simple inflationary pressures on the home insurance market may have also played a part.
Home insurance premiums over time
What about movement in premiums over the next year?
We are facing an uncertain time ahead with potential triggers for both increases and falls in home insurance costs.
Home insurers have been told by the regulator the Financial Conduct Authority to keep some financial reserves in place. This cash is to provide assistance to customers who might be struggling to pay home insurance premiums due to job loss or disruption due to coronavirus. This financial help could mean a deferral of premium payments for up to three months, among other possible measures. But it means premiums for other customers could rise to foot the bill.
The government’s stamp duty break on property worth up to £500,000, which is in place until 31 March 2021, has given a boost to the housing market. An increase in the number of people moving house has a direct impact on demand for new home insurance policies, both combined policies and buildings-only cover – often the preferred choice of buy-to-let landlords.
A rise in demand for home insurance often fuels competition among providers to offer the best deals at keenest prices, so this could potentially lead to a fall in premium prices for the first few months of the year.
What about in the longer term?
Some of the issues around climate change point to longer-term increases in home insurance premiums.
A rise in weather-related claims will apply upward pressure on premiums. The early part of 2020 saw several severe storms, including Dennis and Ciara, resulting in flooding across many areas including south Wales, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, for example. Already in 2021 sever weather and flood warnings were put in place for Storm Christoph and there could be more in store this year and in the coming years.
Subsidence is also a growing problem in some parts of the UK due to warmer weather and drier ground.
Another issue which could lead to increased insurance costs is the growing number of high-value portable gadgets which are easy picking for burglars. With increased home working and home-schooling last year more people have also invested in expensive new tech and devices to use at home.
Another issue which could lead to increased insurance costs is the growing number of high-value portable gadgets which are easy picking for burglars.
Even with costs now at their highest level in several years, many policyholders will continue to see higher prices when their existing insurer sends out renewal quotes.
The best way to avoid this is to shop around every year and take advantage of the lower prices on offer through MoneySuperMarket.
Home insurance premiums over time
““In 2020, we predicted that home insurance prices were likely to fluctuate. Successive lockdowns and restrictions could have played their part, with many people spending more time at home. On the one hand any rise in accidental damage claims owing to more time spent at home could create more costs for insurers. On the other hand, spending more time at home has reduced the risk of burglary, and means spotting home emergencies such as leaks is likely to happen more quickly.
“These contrasting factors are likely to play a part in the inconsistent home insurance prices we’re seeing. Even as prices continue to change, our advice is to shop around for the best policy for home insurance and, wherever you are in the country, you’ll be able to get the deal that’s right for you.” ”
Average premiums by region
- London saw the most expensive combined home insurance premiums in Q4 2020 at £207.72
- Those in the North East pay the least on average, with combined premiums of £120.19
- Burglary is more of a problem in urban areas, which is one reason why London has higher premiums than other parts of the UK. Parts of south-east England, including London, are also prone to subsidence
Bigger towns and cities tend to have higher crime rates, which can contribute to higher costs.
The area where you live is one of the biggest factors when it comes to calculating the cost of home insurance. Insurers set prices according to the likelihood of claims from fire, flood, subsidence and burglary, for example, using the number of related incidents in any given postcode.
Insurers are also concerned that climate change will trigger more frequent and more violent bouts of extreme weather, leading to floods, storms and associated damage. Any reductions in rainfall over the long term may also lead to an increased number of subsidence claims. Particular areas of the country are more prone to flooding or subsidence, for example.
As far as belongings are concerned, the biggest perceived risk on a day-to-day basis is burglary. This is more of a problem in urban regions, which is one reason premiums are much higher in London compared to other parts of the UK.
How property type affects home insurance costs
- People living in flats or apartments pay the highest premiums on average* for combined buildings and contents insurance, at £149.14
- The cheapest premiums on average apply to those living in a bungalow, at £127.59 for buildings and contents insurance
- 73% of people who live in a flat or apartment buy contents insurance only. Buildings insurance in such circumstances is often the responsibility of the leaseholder or landlord
The type of property you live in can make a big difference to your risk profile from an insurer’s perspective – and this might push up the cost of your insurance.
Properties with shared access can be more susceptible to break-ins, for example, while homes that are attached to each other, such as terraced houses and properties subdivided into flats, can be more at risk of damage by spread of fire or leaked water.
Those living in flats and apartments with shared access typically pay higher premiums for combined insurance (buildings and contents), at an average of £149.14.
The average premium for a house stood at £146 in Q4 2020, while bungalows saw the lowest premium by property type in the quarter at £128.
The good news is all households can save money on their home cover by shopping around at renewal.
*excluding ‘other’ properties such as bedsits and halls of residence for which there is low volume
All premium price data is based on the median cheapest on screen price for the given period that customers see when running a quote. Premiums are therefore based on MoneySuperMarket customers only and are representative of the UK average.
From October (Q4) 2018 onwards the on screen price also includes add-ons in line with IDD, as such it may not be accurate to compare figures pre and post this date.