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There are two main types of home insurance cover — buildings and contents. Buildings insurance covers the structure of your property and its fixtures and fittings, but not the contents within it.
The difference between buildings and contents insurance is best explained by an old metaphor often used by insurers: Imagine if you could pick your house up and shake it — everything that fell out would be the things you’d cover under contents insurance, whereas everything that stayed put would be covered by your buildings cover — walls, roofs, doors, fitted kitchens, etc.
Your insurer may also cover you for external structures such as sheds, garages and garden walls, but it’s important to check as not all policies will cover items or structures outside of the main building.
You don’t need to take out buildings insurance if you’re a tenant — this will all be taken care of by your landlord or housing association.
You also shouldn’t need to buy buildings cover if your house is leasehold as it’s landlord’s responsibility to insure the property.
While you don’t need to insure your home if you don’t own it, you might want to consider taking out a contents insurance policy to protect your belongings.
If you take out a mortgage to buy a home, your mortgage provider will usually require you to have a buildings insurance policy in place. Some mortgage providers offer buildings insurance as part of their service, but this tends to be more expensive and you can get a better deal by shopping around on a site like uSwitch.
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Insurers will ask about your home’s security measures and usually have a minimum standard for door and window locks. You could reduce your premium by getting more sophisticated locks or taking other measures such as installing CCTV or a burglar alarm.
You may be able to get a better deal on your home insurance by increasing the excess (the amount you have to pay when you make a claim). Think carefully before you boost your excess too high — remember that you will have to pay this amount for any claim, even if the damage or loss is only minor.
Some insurers will allow you to pay for your insurance in installments rather than in one upfront lump sum. This may seem like a great idea to spread the cost, but you may find that the insurer adds fees and interest. Make sure you carefully compare the overall difference between annual and monthly payment policies and decide which suits you best.
You will be asked about the rebuild value of your home when you take out buildings insurance. This is in the case that your home is completely destroyed and needs to be fully rebuilt. Bear in mind that this is not the same as the market value of your property, which is usually much higher. If you take out cover for your home’s resale value it’s likely you’ll end up paying too much for your insurance cover. If you’re buying a house the mortgage lender’s survey should disclose the rebuild value, or if you already own the house you should find the value on the deeds.
Don’t be tempted to just take buildings cover from your mortgage provider as part of a property purchase. Your mortgage provider will count on the fact you have a lot to organise when buying your house, and will try to convince you to take out insurance with them. However, you can make big savings if you shop around for a better deal. Get started by comparing deals with uSwitch below: