There’s no legal requirement to have home insurance but having means there will no large bills if you need to repair your home or replace your belongings after they have been stolen, damaged or destroyed. As home security systems have improved, and as the result of other contributing factors, between 2002/03 and 2018/19, there has been a clear trend of declining burglary offences in England and Wales. You may not feel like this is the case in your area.
Home Insurance comes in two parts: buildings insurance (cover against damage to the property itself) and contents insurance (for damaged or stolen items within the home). These can be combined or bought separately, so the first step is deciding which option is better for you.
As the name suggests, buildings insurance applies to the physical integrity and good maintenance of your home, like the walls and the roof. In select cases, permanent fixtures and fittings, like your bathtub and kitchen cupboards, may also be covered by buildings insurance.
While particular add-ons for your property can make your buildings and contents insurance quote more expensive, they may be vital when it comes to being covered on your home insurance and you may have to seek alternative cover for these. Some of these add-ons include:
|Insurance type||What is usually includes|
|Home emergency cover||Most buildings and contents insurance policies will not automatically make provision home emergency cover, to insure a boiler breaking down or blocked drains.|
|Personal belongings cover||This insures high-value items like jewellery or electronics you take with you outside your home.|
|Legal cover||Some policies may cover legal expenses such as property-related solicitor’s fees if you become involved in a dispute with someone over your home. For example, if someone injured themselves on your property.|
|Accidental damage cover||Most home insurance policies will not pay out as standard for damage you cause by accident.|
For all the millions of renters in Britain, there’s insurance for tenants and insurance for landlords too.
Let’s consider insurance for tenants for a moment. Most cover personal possessions, accidental damage, and a tenant’s liability.
Items that can be taken out of the home can be covered for loss or damage. For example, leaving your phone on the train, losing a camera while on holiday or jewellery falling off.
As you will know, landlords will expect you to pay for any damage you cause. Tenant’s Liability means an insurer can contribute to the cost of repairing damage to the landlord’s property. Some will replace lost or damaged possessions on a new-for-old basis. Depending on the insurer some customers will also have the option of taking a cash payment instead. Items may have to be stolen or damaged beyond repair and cash sum will be limited to the cost of the replacement.
Let’s turn to homeowners now. It is worth getting familiar with how much your policy caps your claims for as some homes have some very expensive items in them. The cheapest home and contents insurance may not be the best cover for you. Usually, buildings and contents insurance will cover the cost of repair if your home is damaged by:
- Falling trees (as a result of natural disasters or man-made civil incidents)
- Fire, smoke and explosions
- Water damage from leaking pipes
- Where there are problems with the physical structure of your building (Subsidence)
- Oil leaks from your heating system
- Floods and storms
As a result of the above, a house insurance provider may want to know:
- What valuables you own worth more than £500
- The rebuild value of the property you want to insure – don’t worry if you don’t know exactly, just give the rough amount
- Details of the types of locks on the doors and windows of the property
- Roughly how old the property is
More valuables, more expensive materials and features, as well as the age – especially of Grade listed properties – will inevitably lead to higher potential insurance costs. Storing expensive in a commercial premises where possible may be a better alternative.
Here are some ways to lower the cost of home insurance:
Installing home burglary and smoke alarms:
- Adding locks to your doors and windows. Consider window grills and steel-reinforced protective doors too.
- Adding smart surveillance devices and alarms (Remote-response surveillance include Nest alarms, security cameras).
- Increase the excess on your policy (the amount you commit to paying before the insurer pays).
- Pay your premiums annually instead of monthly.
- Try not to claim excessively.
- Ask your current insurer to match or beat a new buildings and contents insurance quote.
While not all of these items will lower your costs by much, making the case to your insurer that you are minimising risks with more generalised evidence (statistics) can be very effective over the phone. Be your own best advocate!