The average home insurance premium tumbled to a six-year low in winter 2015/16, but only those shopping around at renewal are likely to see the full benefit.
This is because insurers reserve their best prices to attract new customers, with prices often rising year-on-year for those who simply renew with the same firm.
Our survey of premium changes across the UK shows that there have been losers as well as winners in the national postcode lottery.
Across the UK, prices fell by 6%, or £7, in winter 2015/16 compared to the previous winter. The average premium now stands at £109 for combined buildings and contents cover.
Homeowners in Shrewsbury enjoyed the biggest year-on-year price falls, with average premiums dropping 12%, or £13.28. Premiums in Dudley also fell by 12%, knocking £13.19 off the average policy.
There were steep drops, too, in Carlisle, Salisbury and Dorchester, as well as Galashiels, Swindon and Dundee, where prices slumped by about 11%.
Top 10 regional winners – postcodes with the steepest price falls:
|Town||Premium price (Winter 2014/15)||Premium price (Winter 2015/16)||Percentage decrease year on year|
Homeowners in Enfield were not so lucky. Premiums in the area have gone up by 3% over the past year and are now 27% higher than the national average.
Households in Cambridge, Hereford, North West London, West London and Twickenham also suffered price increases over the past 12 months.
Top 10 regional losers – postcodes with premium rises and the smallest price falls:
|Town||Premium price (Winter 2014/15)||Premium price (Winter 2015/16)||Percentage increase/decrease year on year|
|London North West (NW)||£149||£151||+1.0%|
|London West (W)||£136||£137||+1.0%|
|Kingston-upon Thames (KT)||£137||£135||-1.9%|
Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: “With the exception of a few postcodes, premiums have been reducing steadily for six years now, thanks mainly to falling burglary rates. This could mean great savings for consumers, but only for those who shop around at renewal to find a better deal.”
People who have never switched insurer are in line for the biggest savings as their premiums are likely to have risen repeatedly over the years. But it’s always worth shopping around at renewal because insurers reserve their best prices for new customers.
Pratt said: “You could save up to £601 by switching providers, so it’s worth taking advantage of the low premiums while they’re available.”
Comparing premium quotes is probably one of the most effective ways to save money on your home insurance. But you can often cut the cost of cover if you enhance your home security.
Some insurers offer discounts if you install security measures but you can also save money by reducing the likelihood of a claim.
Locks – Insurers these days usually expect a minimum level of security, such as locks on all exterior doors and ground floor windows. Five lever mortice locks are the most secure, but your insurer might accept yale locks or additional bolts on the doors. Remember also to fit locks on any sheds or garages.
Security lights – These can deter burglars – and make them easier to spot. They come in a range of styles and prices to suit different tastes and budgets.
Burglar alarms – These are known to to warn off intruders. A bell-only alarm is cheaper than an alarm that is monitored, but all alarms should be professionally accredited and fitted. You should also make sure you abide by any conditions of use. Your insurer might, for example, insist that the alarm is turned on at night, even if you are in the house. Failure to comply could invalidate your cover so it would not pay out in the event of a claim.
CCTV – A closed circuit TV system might seem a bit excessive but they are becoming increasingly popular among security-conscious households. There are, however, rules governing security cameras. You cannot, for example, point the camera at your neighbour’s house or garden, or a public place.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to improve the security of your home – basic commons sense costs nothing.
Always keep keys and valuables out of sight – and never leave a key under a doormat or plant pot – they are the first places a burglar will look!. You should also remove any keys from inside locks and out of reach of cat-flaps and letter boxes.
Another options is to find out if there is a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in your area. The schemes are run by the local community but they work closely with the police to help prevent and tackle crime.
1 According to MoneySuperMarket Consumer Intelligence in January 2016, 51% of customers could save up to £59.89 on their home insurance.
Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.