There are two main types of home insurance: buildings and contents. You can buy them as standalone policies, or as a single combined buildings and contents policy.
The best option for you depends on your particular circumstances, so you might not need both types of cover.
Buildings insurance covers the structural elements of your home: the bricks and mortar, walls and windows, and permanent fixtures and fittings like baths and kitchens.
Every policy is different, but most should cover the cost of repairs or replacements, in case your home is damaged by fire, floods or other extreme weather, theft, vandalism or subsidence.
Is it for me?
If you’ve got a mortgage, chances are you already have buildings insurance. If you’re in the process of applying for a mortgage, you’ll need to get buildings insurance too, as most lenders require it.
If you’re a tenant or leaseholder, you shouldn’t have to worry about buildings insurance – it’s the responsibility of your landlord or the freeholder of the building, not you.
And if you’re a landlord? See below for more information on exactly what’s required of you in terms of insurance.
Contents insurance helps to protect your possessions: the things you keep inside your home. This includes stuff like furniture, electricals, clothes and kitchen equipment – anything you’d take with you if you moved house.
Your policy should cover the cost of repair or replacement, should your things be damaged or stolen.
There are two main types of cover: ‘new for old’ and ‘indemnity’. They offer different levels of protection, and different types of payout.
If you have a ‘new-for-old’ policy, and you make a claim for a damaged piece of furniture, you should be covered for the cost of a brand new replacement.
If you have an ‘indemnity’ policy, you’ll be covered for the value of that specific piece of furniture – taking into account its age, and subsequent wear and tear. This means ‘indemnity’ policies tend to be cheaper, but the payouts are lower.
Is it for me?
According to the Association of British Insurers, the average UK household has around £35,000 worth of possessions. That’s a lot of stuff! So whether you’re a homeowner or a tenant, contents insurance is definitely worth considering.
Add-ons and extras
You can supplement your home insurance with a selection of add-ons and extras. These provide protection against specific events, or cover particular types of belongings.
Home emergency cover is designed to protect your home in case of domestic disasters or (yes, you guessed it) emergencies. This means things like burst pipes, broken boilers and blocked drains. You’ll usually be covered for call-out costs, replacement and repair, up to a set limit for each incident. Some providers include home emergency cover as part of their home insurance, so make sure you check before you buy.
Nobody wants to be without hot water or heating, so standalone boiler cover is another popular add-on. You won’t be covered for the same breadth of issues as with a home emergency policy, but you will be covered if your boiler breaks down. Many policies also include an annual service, to help prevent problems in the first place.
Most contents insurance policies include a degree of cover for accidental damage, but only for certain items. A comprehensive accidental damage policy will cover you for all sorts of mishaps – which can be especially helpful for households with young kids. Note that general wear and tear isn’t covered by this type of insurance.
This type of cover helps to protect your portable belongings when they’re outside of your home. It’s for things like handbags, phones and tablets. Most policies apply overseas as well, but make sure you check if you’re planning to travel.
Legal expenses insurance helps to cover your legal costs, should you find yourself taking action or making a claim. It’s usually sold as an add-on to car or home insurance. When you buy it with your home insurance, it tends to cover a relatively broad range of legal proceedings: things relating to your home, employment or personal injury, as well as the supply of goods and services. It can prove great value for money, given the high cost of legal services.
As a landlord, you’re legally responsible for repairs to your property’s structure, fixtures and fittings, heating, hot water, gas appliances and electrical wiring, so buildings insurance is vital. It’s your responsibility to ensure you are adequately covered.
If you property is furnished, contents insurance could also be crucial, to cover the costs of repairing or replacing damaged furniture.
Some providers offer specialist policies for landlords, with additional features. These include liability cover (in case someone is injured on your property) and rent guarantee (to protect you against a loss of income). Legal expenses and home emergency cover are also available as add-ons for landlords.
If you don’t already have buildings and contents insurance you can get a quick and easy quote from us here.