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What is home insurance?

Home insurance, also called house insurance, is a general term used to describe the two main ways to insure you home. These are building insurance and contents insurance.

When you buy home or house insurance, you can buy building insurance and home contents insurance separately. You can also buy them together in a single home insurance policy to protect your house. This is often called ‘home and contents’ insurance, buildings and contents insurance, or home and building insurance.

Home insurance pays out an agreed amount when you make a claim. You pay a house insurance company an amount every month for those safety net in case you need to make a claim. This is called the premium.

Buildings and contents insurance, what's the difference?

Contents insurance

Contents insurance covers everything that would move with you if you moved house or flat. For example, your sofa and TV, kitchen appliances and personal belongings.

Contents insurance can be valuable to everyone, including renters and council tenants. You’ll need to compare contents insurance quotes to get the best home contents insurance deal. Make sure you check exactly what the content insurance covers. It may specifically exclude those expensive, portable electronics you regularly take out of the home, like a new mobile phone or laptop. This is both because they are very attractive items for thieves due to their small size and high value, and are regularly taken away from the home where they can easily be damaged, lost or stolen. You can find gadget insurance for these items instead, if they are not covered by your home and contents insurance.

There are several types of home contents cover so make sure you compare home contents insurance deals to get the best one for you. Contents insurance will typically cover you up to £50,000.

Building insurance

Building insurance covers the physical structure of your home, like the walls and the roof. Permanent fixtures and fittings, like your bathtub and kitchen cupboards, are also covered by building insurance.

You may need building insurance if you own your own house. Some mortgage lenders ask that you buy building insurance. You could compare building insurance quotes to get the best building insurance deal for you.

What does home insurance cover?

Different home and contents insurance companies will provide different levels of cover. So the cheapest home and contents insurance may not be the best cover for you.

Typically, buildings and contents insurance will cover the cost of repair if your house is damaged by:

  • Falling trees

  • Fire, smoke and explosions

  • Water damage from leaking pipes

  • Vandalism

  • Subsidence (where there are problems with physical structure of your house building)

  • Oil leaks from your heating system

  • Floods and storms

Home insurance guides

How much does home insurance cost?

House insurance consists of home (buildings) and contents insurance, which will vary in cost. You’ll need to shop around using home and contents insurance comparison sites to get the best deals for you. The Uswitch tool above can help.

Cheap home and contents insurance policies may not be the best deal in the long run. Add-ons can make your home and contents insurance quote more expensive. But they may be useful when you come to claim on your policy as you can cover items basic policies may not cover.

Read more about how you can calculate costs for home insurance.

Some of these add-ons are:

  • Accidental damage cover: Most home insurance policies will not payout as standard for damage you cause by accident.

  • Home emergency cover : Most home and contents insurance policies won’t automatically provide home emergency cover, to insure instances like your boiler breaking down or blocked drains.

  • Personal belongings cover: This insures items like jewellery, iPads, wallets and purses, things you take with you outside your home.

  • Legal cover: Legal expenses cover will pay your property solicitor’s fees if you become involved in a dispute with someone over your home. For example, if someone injured themselves on your property.

How to find cheap home insurance?

Buying home and contents insurance together will usually get you the cheapest deal as you can receive a discount for buying both policies with the same issuer at the same time.

The Uswitch home insurance comparison tool can help to get cheap home insurance deals.

Savvy consumers can lower the cost of home insurance by:

  • Installing home burglary and smoke alarms

  • Adding locks to your doors and windows of your house.

  • Joining your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme

  • Increase the excess on your policy (the amount you agree to pay before the insurer pays)

  • Pay your premiums once a year instead of monthly

  • Try not to claim too often

  • Ask your current insurer to beat a new home and contents insurance quote

How to apply for house insurance?

To apply for house or home insurance, an insurance company will need your personal details, including:

  • Name

  • Date of birth

  • Postcode of where you live

A home insurance company will also ask:

  • If you want only home contents insurance, or also contents insurance

  • Do you own your home or do you rent

  • When you want the home contents insurance policy to start

  • If you want the home contents insurance policy in joint names, e.g. you and your partner

  • How many times you have claimed on home contents insurance in the last 5 years

A house insurance provider may want to know:

  • What valuables you own worth more than £500

  • The rebuild value of the property you want to insure – don’t worry if you don’t know exactly, just give the rough amount

  • Details of the types of locks on the doors and windows of the property

  • Roughly how old the property is

When you compare home insurance quotes before applying it will be useful to you to know:

How much your home contents are worth: Write out a list of all your belongings and how much it would cost to replace them. Be realistic and honest. You may wish to photograph some of the more important items so you have evidence of ownership.

How much cover you want: Do you want enough home insurance cover to pay for the cost of replacing all of your personal belongings? Or are you happy to pay a smaller premium and accept a smaller payout if you make a claim?


See also:

Compare home insurance & building insurance quotes