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What is buildings insurance?

A buildings insurance policy protects you by covering the cost of repairing or even rebuilding your home if your home is damaged or destroyed.

It includes cover for your home’s structural elements such as your roof, walls, permanent fixtures in your kitchen or bathroom as well as additional structures such as a garage or shed. 

What is the difference between buildings insurance and contents insurance?

Buildings insurance and content insurance are two parts of what is generally referred to as home insurance. 

The main difference is that while buildings insurance covers anything that is part of the physical structure of your home, contents insurance covers your possessions inside it such as furniture, appliances and jewellery. 

Do I need to get buildings insurance?

Typically, you’ll need to get buildings insurance if you:

Have a mortgage: Most lenders require you to get buildings insurance for the duration of the term of your mortgage.

Are a landlord: If you rent out a property that you own, it’s your responsibility to carry out any repairs due to damage to the building. These can be expensive, so a buildings insurance policy can protect you from having to pay out of pocket. 

In instances where you own a property, but don’t have a mortgage, while you’re not legally required to take out a buildings insurance policy, it may still be a good idea.

Housing repairs can be costly, so buildings insurance can give you peace of mind that if anything should happen, you won’t be hit with an unexpected expense.

What does buildings insurance cover?

Buildings insurance will typically cover any repair or rebuilding costs in the event that your home is damaged or destroyed by:

  • Fire

  • Severe weather such as storms or flooding

  • Subsidence

  • Vandalism

  • Vehicle collisions

  • Water damage 

  • Temporary accommodation during repairs

Different insurers may offer cover for different events, so make sure you go through your buildings insurance agreement to know what exactly you are covered for. What to look for before taking out a buildings insurance policy

When it comes to buildings insurance, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all policy that works for everyone. However there are a few common things to keep in mind when comparing buildings insurance.

Type of damage covered

Different people may need different types of cover depending on where they live and what kind of property they have. For example, if you live in a wooded area, falling tree cover might be something you need. Or if you live in an area prone to flooding, then you’ll want to make sure you’re covered for that. 

Temporary accommodation

If your house is severely damaged and unliveable while it’s repaired, you could be covered for the cost of getting temporary accommodation while the repairs are carried out. There are usually limits to how much cover you get, so make sure you know how much you’re covered for. 

No claims discount 

This is a discount you get for not having made a claim over a given period of time, usually 12 months. This can result in your insurance provider rewarding you with a lower premium, though it is not guaranteed because your premium is based on other factors as well. 

Compulsory excess 

The excess is the minimum amount you have to pay when you make a claim on your buildings insurance policy. In some cases you can also agree to pay an additional voluntary excess, which helps lower your monthly premiums. 

How much does buildings insurance cost?

What you pay for your buildings insurance depends on several factors:

  • Your claims history. You’ll likely be charged a higher premium if you have a history of making several claims on your home insurance

  • Your address. The location of your home is an important port of how much you pay for buildings insurance. If you live in an area that is more prone to flooding, for example, you’ll pay more. 

  • Building materials. Home made using a lot of wood will likely cost more to insure that there is a higher risk of fire. 

  • Security features. Adding security features such as burglar alarms and surveillance cameras can help cut down your premiums.

  • Your level of cover: If the cost to rebuild your home is higher due to expensive materials or non standard construction you may have to pay more for buildings insurance. 

What can I do to reduce the cost of buildings insurance?

Here are some simple ways to pay less for your buildings insurance:

  • Get an accurate rebuild estimate. By using a surveyor to get a precise figure on the rebuild cost of your home, you can make sure you don’t pay any more than you have to.

  • Pay annually: When you pay for your insurance in monthly instalments, you also end up being charged interest. You can save money by paying for your buildings insurance policy with an annual lump-sum payment.

  • Pay a higher excess. Typically, the higher the excess you pay, the lower your premiums will be, but make sure that you can afford to pay the excess.

  • Avoid auto-renewals. If your policy is nearing its full term, shop around to see if you can get a better deal. If you do find a deal you like, you can also speak to your current insurer and ask them to match or beat the deal you’ve found elsewhere.

  • Hold on to your no claims discount. Try to avoid claiming on your buildings insurance for smaller repairs that you may be able to afford.

  • Install security features. Adding security features like burglar alarms, or smoke alarms can help bring down the cost of buildings insurance. 

 How do I calculate the rebuild cost of my home?

You can hire a professional surveyor to calculate the cost of rebuilding your home. 

Although this will cost you, it may be worth it to get an accurate estimate that helps ensure that you don’t pay more for buildings insurance than you must. 

Is there a difference between the rebuild cost and market value of my home?

Yes. The rebuild cost of your home is limited to any costs, such as materials and labour costs, incurred to physically reconstruct your home from scratch if it were destroyed.  It is commonly known as the ‘buildings sum insured’.

The market value of your home also includes the value of the land it is constructed on, as well as any value it derives from its location such as proximity to schools, commercial areas, parks or public transport. 

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