Home Insurance Explained

The key information you need to know about home insurance and where to turn for the right advice on them.
Find me a home insurance expert

Introduction to Home Insurance

You’d be surprised by the number of people we have contacting us every week asking us for advice on home insurance. It’s one of those products that nobody wants, but everybody needs.
There are so many companies offering home insurance, with a multitude of options and benefits, that it’s sometimes hard to know where to start.

The good news is that the advisors we work with can take the hassle out of finding the right insurance for you, and get you the best deal.

In this article, we’ll cover:

What is home insurance?

Your home is probably your single biggest asset, so it makes sense to protect it in every way possible. Fitting smoke detectors and burglar alarms is common practice these days, but while they may help protect your home, they won’t help you if the worst happens.

This is where home insurance becomes essential for protecting your assets. Put simply, the right home insurance can protect your property and your belongings.

What are the different types of home insurance?

There are essentially three types of insurance:

Buildings Insurance

This covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding the main structure of your property. It usually includes the roof, walls and windows as well as fixed items like fitted kitchens, bathrooms and toilets. As a rule of thumb, it should cover the cost of rebuilding your home from the ground up. If your policy allows, you may be covered for garages, driveways and walls/fences. Building insurance usually covers damage or loss by way of:

  • Fire, smoke, water damage caused by the fire brigade
  • Collisions by vehicles, including aircraft
  • Vandalism
  • Falling trees or lamp posts
  • Natural disasters such as storms and floods – keep in mind that some policies do not cover ‘acts of god’, though.
  • Subsidence (subject to certain conditions)

Bear in mind that the insured amount may differ from the market value of your property, as it often has to include demolition costs, site clearance and architects fees, so make sure that you get the right amount of cover.

Are there different sorts of building cover?

Yes, there are two sorts of cover available – sum insured and bedroom rated. There are pros and cons to both sorts of cover.

  • Sum Insured – This is based on the cost of rebuilding your house from the ground up. It should take into account costs such as demolition, clearance and architects fees. You will need to take into account that the costs of rebuilding your home can be a bit tricky to calculate and those costs will go up over time, so an index linked policy might be your best bet.
  • Bedroom Rated – This covers the cost of rebuilding your home based on the number of bedrooms you have. The beauty of this policy is that it can protect you from under insuring your home and you don’t have to work out how much it would cost to rebuild your home. The downside is that you could end up paying for a level of cover you don’t need.

If you want to discuss the pros and cons of each kind of cover, you can arrange a no obligation chat with one of the insurance experts we work with here.

Contents Insurance

This covers removable belongings if they are damaged, destroyed or stolen. This generally includes:

  • Furniture such as sofas, beds, dining tables, chairs etc
  • Antiques and ornaments
  • Personal items such as clothing and jewellery
  • Electrical items like TV’s, sound systems, computers etc
  • Kitchenware such as cookware, microwaves, food processors etc
  • Entertainment items such as toys, video games, DVDs etc

Depending on which policy you buy, your insurance provider may pay out an agreed value, or there are providers who will replace old for new, so check your policy carefully or talk to one of the expert insurance advisors we work with to find the best deal.

Building & Contents Insurance

This insurance cover does what it says on the tin and combines both building and contents cover in one policy.

Why you should have home insurance

The first reason is to protect yourself against the financial hardship if your home is badly damaged or destroyed.

The second is that most mortgage lenders will require that the home has a buildings insurance policy in place as part of their terms and conditions, so not having insurance could put your mortgage at risk.  

When you consider that the Association of British Insurers has published figures that insurers pay out an astonishing £8.1 million every day to compensate homeowners for loss and damage to their property, it seems like there is a good chance you might need it one day.

Looking for expert advice about home insurance?

We'll match you with an expert in your case - for free

Do I need home insurance if I own my property outright?

There is no legal obligation to take out home insurance on either the building or its contents, but you’d have to ask yourself ‘Could I afford to rebuild if I lost everything to fire or flood?’ If the answer is no, then home insurance can offer real peace of mind.

My home is leasehold, do I still need insurance?

It all depends on the conditions in your lease agreement, so you really need expert advice on this.

It could be that building insurance is included as part of your ground rent or service charge.

In the case of a flat, you may be responsible for insuring the parts that are your legal responsibility, such as the living areas, and the leaseholder covers the communal areas.

Contents insurance isn’t a requirement, but most insurance experts would recommend that you consider it.

If you’re still unsure, you can arrange to have a no-obligation chat with one of the expert insurance advisors we work with here.

I rent my home. Do I still need home insurance?

If you rent a property, your landlord should have the building insured, but most experts would recommend that you take out contents cover to protect your belongings.

Do I need home insurance if I’m a landlord?

Most experts advise landlords to take out buildings insurance to protect their assets. This cover often covers malicious damage by tenants, but you should always check with your insurance provider or carefully read your policy.

Many landlords take the added precaution of taking out landlord insurance that covers, amongst other things, accidental damage, liability if a tenant or tradesman hurts themselves, legal expenses and some can provide a rent guarantee for times when a tenant might default on their rent, leaves unexpectedly or the house is undergoing extensive repairs.  

Contents insurance can be taken out by your tenants.

What is not covered by home insurance?

What is, and is not covered by your policy can vary, depending on your insurance provider’s criteria, and as they are all different, be sure to check your policy for exclusions carefully.

The more common exclusions for buildings insurance may include:

  • Normal wear and tear
  • Poor workmanship (by either yourself or a tradesman)
  • Frost damage to external pipes
  • Damage caused by pests, such as birds or insects (this can include pets)
  • Any damage that is caused by neglect of your home
  • Acts of God

Common exclusions for a contents insurance policy may include-

  • High value items. Most policies limit the amount of cover provided.
  • Business equipment if you run a business from home.
  • Subletting your house – if loss, damage or theft takes place while subletting your home, you may not be covered by your insurance.

Are comparison sites any good?

A comparison site can give you a good idea of how little you could pay for home insurance, but it may not be able to tell which is the best deal, especially if you have high value or unusual items you may want to include in the cover.

All providers are different, so while one will be happy to cover your collection of antique vases or record collection, others may not.

The expert insurance advisors we work with have their finger on the pulse of the industry, and have a working relationship with all providers, not just a select few. They may also be aware of great deals from providers who do not advertise on price comparison websites.

Home insurance FAQs

Should I buy joint buildings & contents insurance?

Not if you’re renting. But if you have a home, whether fully owned or with a mortgage, joint buildings and contents insurance is the most cost effective way to get peace of mind.

Can I insure a home that is in danger of flood risk?

Yes, currently insurers cannot refuse insurance for a home in a flood risk area as long as the government is funding flood mitigation schemes in that area. However, you may have to pay a higher premium.

Is subsidence covered by buildings insurance?

The costs of rectifying subsidence will be covered by most home insurers, but the excess to be paid is much higher and cover is limited to the house itself, not outbuildings, driveways or garden walls. Be sure to ask your insurance provider what their criteria are, as they differ from provider to provider.

Will my home insurance cover a leaking roof?

If the leak was caused by damage such as a storm or falling tree, then you may be covered. If it is caused by simple wear and tear on the roof structure, then probably not.

If I work from home, will I need business insurance?

It is important that you tell your insurer if you work from home. It’s unlikely you’ll have to take out any additional cover, but failure to tell them could invalidate any future claims.

Can I insure my holiday home?

Most providers are unlikely to cover a holiday home. The main reason is that it can be unoccupied for long periods of time, along with the additional risks associated with it being let out for short periods of time. The good news is that there are specialist insurers out there, and the expert advisors we work with know who they are and which ones offer the best deals.

I’m a student. Does my family’s home insurance policy cover me?

The truth of the matter is that your family’s insurance is unlikely to offer you protection against loss, especially if you are in halls of residence. Talk to one of the expert insurance advisors we work with about specialist student insurance.

What is specialist home insurance cover?

If your home is not what insurers would call ‘standard construction’ i.e. constructed with brick walls and a tiled roof, then you may need a specialist insurance provider. Non-standard construction which are considered high risk by insurers includes:

 

What is accidental damage cover?

This is usually an add-on extra with most policies, although some will provide it as a standard part of your policy. Essentially it will cover you for accidental damage such as drilling through a water pipe or spilling red wine over your cream carpet. Most policies exclude damage caused by pets.

Does home insurance cover items I take out of the house?

Some insurers will cover items such as cameras, laptops and jewellery that are lost, stolen or damaged outside the home. To ensure items that you regularly take outside the home are covered, you can take additional cover called personal possession insurance.

What is an excess?

This is a set amount that you have agreed to pay towards any claim. If you choose to pay a higher excess, then your premium will be lower.

Is auto-renewing my home insurance a good idea?

In a word, no. Insurance providers have an annoying habit of only offering their best deals to new customers. The advisors we work with have a working relationship with all insurance providers, including those that don’t advertise on comparison sites, so they will be able to get you the best deal every year.

Are my home and contents covered while I’m on holiday?

It very much depends on how long you’re away. Most providers will cover you for up to a month away from home, although there are a few who may offer cover for a longer period of time.

Is my bicycle covered by my contents insurance?

Some policies will cover bicycles, but only up to a certain value and you may have to meet the insurers criteria in regard to locks and other security when its at home.

Can trees on my property affect my home insurance?

Yes. You need to let your insurance provider know if there are any trees within 5 metres (approximately sixteen and a half feet), this includes trunks and branches.

Do I need to tell my insurer if I build an extension?

Yes. You need to inform your insurance provider of any changes to your building and contents. This could include a new kitchen or loft conversion, and you should discuss the changes before work commences.

Am I covered against damage caused by my cat or dog?

Sadly, most home insurance providers will not cover you against damage caused by pets.

Where can I get the best advice on home insurance?

The advisors we work with live, eat and sleep home insurance. Each one is an expert with contacts throughout the insurance industry, not just a select few companies, so they can even find deals that are not on comparison websites.

Contact us here today or call 0808 189 0463, there’s no obligation and then you can sit back and relax while we do all the hard work in finding you the best home insurance for your needs.

Speak to an advisor

Call us on 0808 189 0463 or fill out our quick enquiry form to be matched with the perfect advisor for you.
Find me an expert

Read more about home insurance below