What you need to consider before buying Home Insurance

19 August 2019

5 min read

Home Insurance and its types

Home insurance helps to protect your property and its contents from unforeseen events, such as, fire, flood, storm, theft and escape of water. Home insurance however, doesn’t always cover everything. For example, it doesn’t cover repairs or replacements due to general wear and tear, or damage that happens gradually over a period of time, such as damp or rot.

Home insurance can cover your building or contents separately or as a combined buildings and contents policy. It’s important to understand what each of these policies are and the different cover you may need.

Buildings insurance protects the structure of your property within the boundaries of the land belonging to your home against unforeseen events like fire, storm, flood, theft and escape of water. It covers the costs of repairing or rebuilding the structure of your property and its permanent fixtures and fittings, should they be damaged. This includes the roof, floors, walls, sheds, garages, greenhouses, permanent fixtures and fittings such as baths, toilets and fitted kitchens.

Contents insurance protects your personal belongings in your home. It covers the contents of your property and your personal belongings against loss or damage while in the home. This includes furniture, kitchen appliances, curtains, bedding, clothing, televisions, computer equipment and jewellery. If you’re renting or sharing a house, you can chose to protect your belongings with contents only cover.

Combined policies protect both the structure of your property within the boundaries of your home and your contents and personal belongings whilst in the home. The combined policy gives you peace of mind that your property and contents are protected together and can be cheaper than two separate standalone options.

It’s important to note that policies can differ depending on the provider, and there are additional premiums that can be added onto your policy that cover particular scenarios. For instance, Family Legal Protection can be added to your home insurance policy to cover the costs of pursuing certain legal proceedings.

Things to consider before buying a home insurance policy

  • Do you need a home insurance policy? Although home insurance isn't a legal requirement, it is typically part of the terms and conditions of a mortgage and not having adequate cover is a breach of the terms of the mortgage. If you own a property, home insurance gives you the peace of mind that the cost of repairing or rebuilding your property, as well as replacing your belongings, will be covered.
  • How much cover do you need? When applying for home insurance, you’ll need to know the cost of completely rebuilding your home, and the total value of your belongings. This will ensure you have enough cover to replace both your home and possessions due to an unforeseen event.
  • Can you take out a policy in joint names? It is possible to take out a joint home insurance policy. By doing this, you can ensure that both you and the joint policy holder are able to make a claim or cancel the policy.
  • Are you covered for accidental damage? Some home insurance policies don't cover accidental damage as standard, such as spilling red wine on your carpets. If not, you may need to add this onto your policy for an additional premium.
  • Does your policy include home emergency cover? Home emergencies are incidents such as burst pipes, roof damage, or boiler breakdown. In these instances the policy will cover costs such as call out charges and labour. If your policy does not include this cover, you may need to add this onto your policy for an additional premium.
  • Does your policy offer alternative accommodation? If you can't live in your home due to damage, check whether your policy will cover the costs of alternative accommodation.
  • Are your most valuable items covered? If you have valuable items, check to see whether your policy covers the full cost of replacing these high risk items. If not, you may need to add these onto your policy for an additional premium. Items exceeding a certain value normally have to be listed items in your policy, the threshold of this varies from provider to provider.
  • Is the food in your freezer covered? Check whether your policy includes freezer contents cover, especially if you couldn't afford to replace it.
  • Is your bike covered? If you own a bike, check to see whether your policy covers this item. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to add this to your policy for an additional premium.
  • Are the contents and plants in your garden covered? Some providers offer limited cover for contents in your garden, however this may be dependent on the level of cover selected. If you require this cover you will need to check if this is included in the cover level you have selected.
  • Are the contents in your outbuildings covered? Check whether your policy includes cover for contents in outbuildings, such as sheds. If this isn’t covered or if it is covered and the value of your contents exceed the cover, you will need to check this against the cover level you have selected to decide if it is appropriate for your requirements.
  • Does your policy include cover for your items away from home? Check whether items like your laptop, camera, engagement rings, and watches are covered against loss or accidental damage whilst away from your home. If not, you may want to request this as an add-on to your policy for an additional premium.

With all insurance policies limitations and exclusions apply. For more details of what is and isn’t covered in your home insurance policy, please check your policy documents carefully or speak to your insurer.

If you’re interested in taking out home insurance, take a look at our home insurance page.

*When buying home insurance, ensure that you fill in the application accurately and honestly as not doing so can invalidate your policy, for example not declaring that you are within a certain distance of water/a body of water could mean if you were impacted by flood you wouldn’t be able to claim. Also, certain features of a house aren’t covered as standard, things like Thatched roofs for example need specialist cover that isn’t available as standard.

If you don’t know the answer to a question in the application, the best thing is to get advice from your insurer.

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