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What is home insurance?

Home insurance is designed to protect your home and its contents against sudden and unexpected events. There are three types of home insurance:-


Buildings insurance: covers the structure and potential rebuild of your property.


Contents insurance: insures your furniture, fixtures and fittings, inside your home or flat.


Combined Buildings and Contents insurance: Although you can purchase buildings and contents insurance separately, it is also available as a combined policy.


If you decide to take out a home insurance policy, as long as your premium is paid on time each month (or annually, depending on how you choose to pay), your home will be covered against risks such as fire, flood, subsidence, theft, and other emergencies.

Do I need to have home insurance?

Neither buildings nor contents insurance is a legal requirement in the UK, but if you are looking at taking out a mortgage, it will usually be a condition of the mortgage to have home insurance in place.


Even if you own your home outright, having home insurance provide you with financial protection should the unexpected happen to your property or personal belongings.

Who should consider home insurance?

Home insurance is an important measure in protecting your home and its contents. Home insurance policies are designed for all occupants including: –


Homeowners: A homeowner is anyone who either owns their home outright or is currently paying a mortgage. As a homeowner, you’re considered responsible for the structure of your property, as well as any belongings at or inside the home.


If you’re getting a mortgage, you will usually be required by your mortgage provider to have buildings insurance organised. But remember, you can get buildings insurance from anyone, not just your mortgage provider.


Landlords: If you’re a landlord – meaning you own a property and are renting it out – you’re legally responsible for the condition of the property you’re renting. You’ll need to cover the building itself, as well as any contents you provide to tenants.


Individual renters: If you’re a private tenant in a rental property, you’ll only need insurance for your own belongings. Buildings insurance will be the responsibility of your landlord.


Flat sharers: If you live in shared accommodation with people coming and going, contents insurance will help ensure your belongings are protected from theft and damage.


Holiday homeowners: If you own a second property that you use for holidays, specialised home insurance will provide cover for properties that are vacant for long periods of time.


Students: If your parents or guardians have a home insurance policy, your belongings may already be covered, but if not, insurance for your possessions while you’re away from home could prove to be invaluable.

What does home insurance cover?

What home insurance covers will depend on whether you take out buildings, contents, or a combined buildings and contents policy.


Buildings insurance

Provides cover for the structure of your home, and its fixtures and fittings, such as a fitted kitchen or bathroom. It also provides cover for structures outside the home like garages, sheds, and outbuildings, as well as drains and pipes you are responsible for.


Buildings insurance will cover the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home if it’s damaged by events such as:

Fires, floods, and storms


Vandalism, theft, and attempted theft


Escape of water


Malicious damage


Subsidence, heave, or landslip


Falling trees


Contents insurance

Contents insurance covers you against the loss, theft, or damage of the possessions inside your home. It includes everything you would take with you if you moved home including your furniture, household appliances bedding, curtains, clothing, television, computing equipment and jewellery. It provides cover for your items as well as the possessions of any family members living with you.


It’s important to remember that limits, terms and exclusion apply to all home insurance policies.

What isn’t covered by home insurance?

If you decide to take out a home insurance policy, it’s important to remember that not every eventuality will be covered. Some of the most common exclusions include: – 


General wear and tear: Damage caused by the general passing of time. For example, scuffed floorboards or loose roof tiles.


Mechanical or electrical breakdown of old appliances:  This includes appliances such as a fridge or washing machine breaking down due to age.


Lack of maintenance: If not taking action to repair something leads to more damage. For example, failing to fix a cracked pipe or damp patch.


Pets: Any damage caused by a pet or pets.


Poor workmanship: Damage that’s caused due to a low standard of building work or DIY, for example sub-par wiring leading to a fire.


Deliberate damage: Any deliberate damage caused by you or a member of your household.


Pest damage: Damage caused by pests (e.g., vermin), insects and birds.


Empty properties: Unoccupied properties are considered by insurers to be exposed to more damage. If you have a second property and it is empty for long periods of time throughout the year, you will require holiday home insurance.

What are optional extras?

Optional extras, also known as add-ons or additional cover, are things you can bolt-on to your home insurance policy to bolster your protection. These include: –


Home Emergency cover


Provides cover for various emergencies, including broken locks, burst pipes, boiler breakdowns, and blocked drains.


Your insurer will have a panel of approved tradesmen they work with who will be called out to perform any repairs or replacements of equipment and/or appliances.


Accidental damage cover


Accidental damage provides cover for situations such as spilling drinks on carpets or a broken window. Be aware however, that although damage done by children is usually covered, damage caused by pets or amateur DIY rarely is.


Personal possessions cover


If you take out contents insurance, your belongings will be covered, but only while they’re inside your home. Personal possessions cover provides protection  for everyday items that you take with you outside of the home. This can include items such as your mobile phone, bags and backpacks, and jewellery.


Boiler cover


Some insurers may include this cover as standard (or as part of home emergency cover) but if not, boiler cover can pay for the cost of repairing or replacing your boiler if it breaks down.


New for old cover


Most items in your home are likely to be worth less now than when you first bought them – for example, your three-year-old home surround sound system. But if something were to happen to these items, you would want them to be replaced. New for old cover means you can get a new replacement for something old that that is lost or damaged.


Bicycle cover


When your bike is at home, it’s likely covered under your contents insurance. But when you leave home with your bike, it won’t be covered. Bicycle insurance covers the cost of having to replace or repair your bike if it is damaged or stolen. Some bicycle cover also provides financial protection if you become injured while riding or are involved in an accident with another person.


Legal Expenses cover


What is covered under legal expenses insurance may differ depending on the insurer, but usually, it provides cover for issues such as unfair dismissal, personal injury from an accident that was not your fault, as well as disputes involving faulty goods or services.

How much does home insurance cost?

Your home insurance premiums will depend on a number of factors, including the type of property you live in, its contents, where you live, as well as your previous claims history.


How much you’ll pay will also depend on the specific policy you decide to take out. If you opt for combined home and contents insurance for example, you may save money compared to if you were to take out these policies separately.

Is it possible to make my home insurance cheaper?

In short, yes. You may be able to reduce your home insurance premiums by doing some, or all of the following:-


Pay annually: Paying for your insurance once a year will be cheaper than paying on a monthly basis.


Ensure your home is occupied: Homes that are unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days are considered as high risk targets for burglary or damage by elements such as fire or escape of water.


Build up your no claims discount: If you’ve managed to go several years without making a claim, you may be eligible for a no-claims discount.


Increase your voluntary excess: Increasing the amount you’re willing to pay towards your insurance will result in a lower premium.


Install a smoke alarm: Fitting your home with smoke alarms is a good way to help guarantee the safety of you and your loved ones while in the home. Having smoke alarms fitted can also lower your insurance premiums.


Choose the level of cover that’s right for you: Before choosing a home insurance policy, make sure you’re choosing one that suits your circumstances. For example, if you do not have a lot of high-value items, consider a contents policy that has ‘indemnity’ insurance rather than ‘new for old’.


Insulate water pipes: Insulating water pipes reduces the risk of them becoming damaged during colder months.

What factors can affect the price of home insurance quotes?

There are several factors that can influence your home insurance premiums, including: –


Where you live: If you live in an area more prone to extreme weather events, or live in an area with high-crime, insurers will view you as more likely to make a claim.


The materials used to construct your home: How your property has been built and the materials used to put it together can impact your home insurance premiums.


Costs for repair and labour: Expensive items like high-tech gadgets are becoming more expensive to fix, which can increase the cost of home insurance.


Value of your items: If you own a number oh high-value items, your premiums for contents insurance may be higher.


The number of claims you make: If you have made a claim or claims within the last few years, you are more likely to pay more for your cover.

What are single item limits?

Most contents insurance policies have what is known as a Single Item Limit for items considered valuable.


A single item limit is that maximum an insurer will pay for one item. If the value of this item exceeds a certain amount, you will need to register the item individually. The value for single item limits will vary from one insurer to another.

What does contents sum insured mean?

When taking out contents insurance, the contents sum insured is the maximum your insurer will pay if you need to make a claim.


The contents you have should be insured for the cost of replacing them as new, not their current value. Most contents policies will have a sum insured limit.

I am moving home. Can I transfer my existing home insurance policy to my new address?

You will need to let your insurer know that you’re moving. They may be able to transfer your existing cover to your new address, but it will depend on factors such as the location of your new address in relation to your previous home.

Can I cancel my home insurance?

You can cancel your home insurance policy at any time; however you may be charged a fee depending on when you cancel it.


Within the first 14 days: early cancellation fees may apply. Like broadband and energy deals, all home insurance policies will have a cooling-off period, which is the first 14-days after you’ve purchased your policy. By law, you can cancel your policy for any reason within this timeframe.


Day 15 to renewal: early termination fees will usually apply. If you decide to cancel your home insurance after your cooling-off period ends, your insurer will usually apply a standard cancellation fee for doing so.


The exact cost you’ll pay will differ depending on your provider, so you’ll need to check your policy’s terms and conditions, but it is typically between £25 and £50. In some cases, your cancellation fee may be higher if you cancel during the first year of your policy. This is because insurers will want to recover the cost of setting up the policy.


If you paid for your policy upfront and are yet to make a claim, you should receive a refund for any unused months minus the cancellation fee.


At renewal: no early termination fees apply. Most home insurance policies will be for a period of 12 months.


Most home insurance policies include a clause to say they will auto-renew unless you tell your provider otherwise. However, most providers will notify you of this at least three weeks (21 days) before your policy is due to be renewed.


If you decide you want to discontinue your policy, contact your insurer and they will cancel the renewal. You should not be charged for this.


However, it’s important to be aware that your home insurance cover ends at 11:59pm on the day of cancellation, so make sure that any new policy you take out will start from midnight the next day to ensure you have continued cover. This is especially important if you have a mortgage, as most mortgage providers will require you to have buildings cover for the life of the loan.

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