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Last updated on 01 December 2021.

Home Insurance FAQs

What is home insurance?

Home insurance is a type of insurance that covers the cost of an individual's property or possessions. There are generally two distinct types of home insurance: buildings insurance relates to the actual bricks and mortar of the physical building itself, while contents insurance relates to the objects within it.

Do I need home insurance?

It isn't actually a legal requirement to possess home insurance, but many mortgage lenders will insist upon it before accepting you for a mortgage. While not mandatory, considering that your home is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make, it makes sense to protect it.

What should it include?

Most buildings insurance premiums cover damage to the home itself, as well as fixtures and fittings (kitchen, bathroom), roof, wall, floors, garages and similar. Check the conditions to see if they include cover for driveways, fences, swimming pools, external walls, and other parts of the home of which you are unsure.

Your policy should include protection in the event of theft, vandalism, fire, car accidents, storms and extreme weather (and damage caused by items that are dislodged by this weather), and other recognised issues – check before buying. You will not be covered for wear and tear in the house (paintwork, scuffed surfaces, aging door frames, etc), and also not necessarily for things such as damp, frost damage, drains or boilers. So if you live in a specific area that might need certain cover – e.g. one that floods or freezes – then be careful to check that this is definitely included. Check for any glaring exclusions.

A simple rule of thumb for contents insurance is that it should cover everything that occupants would take with them if they moved. If you take items about and about with you, such as bicycles or laptops, you might be asked how you use them and look after them.

Do I need contents insurance?

It's not mandatory, but certainly recommended. Buildings insurance alone will not cover any damage or loss to any electrical items such as TVs, laptops, smartphones, music systems, or games consoles, and neither would it cover damage to furniture, carpets, garden equipment and other similar items. Contents insurance would cover these.

What affects the price?

There are numerous ways of driving down the cost of home insurance. These include:

  • Not claiming excessively, or at all.
  • Installing kite-mark locks, video cameras and other security measures.
  • Postcode: Living somewhere with a low crime rate, risk of flooding, affluence, etc.
  • Cost/age/condition of property.
  • Lifestyle/occupation, particularly if occupants are away from home for excessive periods of time.

What does ‘New for Old' mean?

This term relates to content insurance, and essentially means that in the event of a claim for an item the insurer would pay for a new replacement for that item, rather than paying for repair or refurbishment. The alternative is indemnity cover, which would pay for a replacement of similar age or repairs. If this distinction is important, check the terms of your insurance.

How much should I get?

The simple rule of thumb is to buy enough insurance to cover the total destruction of your house and everything within it, including rebuilding and replacements. That doesn't necessarily mean that you should walk around the property listing everything with a calculator, but instead go for a value that you know will definitely cover you in the event of disaster.

Do I need insurance if I rent?

Not for the building itself as you don't own it, but you might consider insuring your contents such as electrical gadgets or any kitchen equipment, as you'll presumably take them with you when you leave.

How should I pay?

It's generally cheaper to pay in one amount, rather than monthly instalments. Don't fall into the traps of over-insuring or under-insuring. For example, some people insure themselves for accidental damage cover that would pay out in the event of a broken piece of furniture or a smashed window, while some don't. People with children or pets might want to consider this additional cover, but it really depends on your personal circumstances.

Your payment should also factor in an excess - the amount that you would pay towards any claim. The insurer will set a compulsory excess, and you can also set a voluntary excess - these will both affect the premium. The higher the value of the excess that you set, the lower the premium will be, although of course you will have to pay out if a claim does occur, so aim to choose an excess that you could definitely afford.

What else do I need to know?

  • If you run a business from your home, consider specific insurance for business use.
  • You do not have to get contents insurance from your mortgage provider, unless it is a specific condition from a given provider.
  • Inform your insurer if your building is ‘changed' in any way – it may invalidate your insurance if you do not.

How can I get a cheap quote?

One way to get a cheap quote is through using a comparison website. We have partnered with who compare 40+ home insurance providers and are 100% independent meaning they are not owned or have investment from any insurance company.