Finding the right home insurance

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What is home insurance?

Home insurance is a type of cover that pays out in the event of damage to, or loss/theft of, your home and your possessions inside it.

There are two components to house insurance: buildings insurance and contents insurance. These can be bought separately or together, combined in one policy.

Generally, buildings insurance covers the property you purchased (e.g. the structure and permanent fittings). Contents insurance covers everything you take into the property.

Different types of driver

What does home insurance cover?

Your level and type of cover will depend on the type of policy you take out:

Buildings insurance

Buildings insurance covers the cost of repairing damage done to the structure of your property. This can cover everything from the pipes to the windows, the flooring to the roof. Often, gardens, pools and sheds and fences are covered too.

It should cover the full rebuild cost of your property, and cover you for loss or damage caused by subsidence, fire, storms, and floods. It won't cover general wear and tear damage, or damage brought about by poor workmanship.

It is often compulsory if you are buying a property with a mortgage (and recommended if you are buying one without). If you are renting it is usually the landlords responsibility to to take out buildings insurance.

Key features


Covers damage done to the structure of your property.


You won't be covered for damage brought about by poor workmanship or wear and tear.


Often compulsory if you have a mortgage


Unnecessary if you are renting.

Contents insurance

Contents insurance covers the cost of replacing your personal possessions or valuables in your home if they are stolen, damaged, or destroyed.

This will include things like kitchen appliances and white goods, furniture, electrical items, clothes, and jewellery. What is exactly covered will depend on your insurer and policy, so it is worth checking before taking out any new home insurance cover.

Similarly, items lost or stolen outside your home aren’t always covered too; you might need to take out personal possessions cover to ensure this is the case.

Key features


Covers the cost of replacing personal possessions in your home if they are stolen, damaged, or destroyed.


Accidental damage isn't always included but can be added on separately - it is best to check!


Items lost or stolen outside the home aren’t always covered - you might need to take out personal possessions cover

Combined home insurance policy

A combined home insurance policy will include both buildings and contents insurance, covering both your personal possessions and the structure of your home.



Key features


Includes the cover included in both contents and buildings insurance.


Usually cheaper than taking out two separate policies with different providers.

Do I need home insurance?

Unlike car insurance, home insurance isn't a legal requirement. However, both buildings and contents insurance offer peace of mind that is usually worth the monthly cost. Which of the two you need will usually depend on whether you rent or own your home, and whether or not you have a mortgage. We'll help you decide what type of cover you might need:

Different types of driver

If you own your home, you are responsible for the building as well as the contents, and as such it's worth taking out cover for both. Mortgage providers will often make buildings insurance a condition of the loan, and while some will offer cover themselves, you'll usually get a better deal by comparing providers online.

As a renter, you won't be responsible for upkeep or protection of the building you rent, but you will be responsible for your possessions inside it and so contents insurance is worth taking out. Many lettings agents will require you to take out contents cover as part of your tenancy agreement, so keep an eye out for that if so.

Find out more: Home insurance for renters

Landlords are encouraged to take out buildings insurance, but will usually not need contents cover unless they keep some of their possessions in the property.

Find out more: Home insurance for landlords

Some home insurance providers will offer specialist cover suitable for holiday homes that takes into account the fact that the property will be empty for extended periods. If you let the property out, you might need specialist host insurance which overlaps with business insurance, including liability cover for example.

Find out more: Holiday home insurance

Students in university halls typically won't need extra insurance, but those in shared rental properties will have the same requirements as other tenants. Contents insurance can be particularly useful in student areas where thefts might be more common.

Find out more: Home insurance for students

How to get cheaper home insurance


Shop around

Every year your home insurance comes up for renewal. Compare policies when your renewal date approaches and you could find a better deal.


Build no claims

You will often be offered a no claims discount if you go without claiming for several years.


Pay annually

If you choose to pay monthly, you’ll often have to pay interest on top of your payments; pay annually to avoid interest charges and admin fees.


Pay more excess

You’ll usually get a lower premium if you offer a higher excess, as it is assumed you will be less likely to claim.


Improve security

Investing in high-security locks on doors and windows, and installing a burglar alarm could make your policy cheaper.


Avoid leaving home empty

Homes left unoccupied are at a higher risk of being targeted by burglars, or damaged by fire or water.

What could impact the cost of your home insurance?

The cost of your home insurance premiums will be based on a combination of factors. Some of the things that could influence these costs include:

  • The area you live in: If your area is at risk of flooding or has a high crime rate, your insurer may see you as more likely to make a claim in the future thereby increasing your premiums.
  • Size of your property: Larger homes will cost more to rebuild if severely damaged, so are typically more expensive to insure than smaller homes.
  • Add-ons: If you add optional extras to your home insurance policy, such as accidental damage cover, you can expect your premiums to go up as you’ll be getting more cover than is standard.
  • Overall property build: The types of materials used to build your home can affect your premiums, especially if they’re difficult to source or require specialist tradespeople to repair.
  • Contents value: Owning lots of expensive items that you want to insure means paying more in your monthly premiums, especially if you need to insure particular items separately due to their value.
  • Credit score: While having a good credit score isn’t essential when taking out home insurance, the better your score is, the more likely providers are to give you a more favourable rate.

What’s included in your home insurance cover?

Exactly what’s covered by your home insurance will vary depending on your policy, but you can generally expect your terms to be based on the following:

What is covered

  • Damage from floods, leaks and storms
  • Fire damage
  • Frozen or burst pipes
  • Subsidence and landslip
  • Damage from fallen trees and branches
  • Theft and burglary
  • Vandalism and intentional damage

What is not covered

  • General wear and tear
  • Damage that results from negligence
  • Maintenance of your home
  • General maintenance
  • Infestations or pest damage
  • Weather-related damage to gardens and fences

What are some different types of home insurance?

The standard types of home insurance are buildings, contents and combined, but some properties or circumstances may require specialist cover, such as:

Unoccupied home insurance: Empty homes are at a greater risk of damage or being broken into, which is why they’re not typically covered under standard home insurance policies. Even if you still live in your home but will be leaving it empty for over 30 days, you may need to adjust your home insurance policy to make sure you’re still covered.

Landlord home insurance: Standard home insurance is designed to cover the home you live in, not the ones you rent out. Landlord home insurance will make sure your property and any contents you own in it are covered. You may also want to take out add-ons such as rent guarantee insurance, which can cover you if a tenant fails to pay their rent one month.

Listed building insurance: Listed buildings can be expensive and difficult to repair, meaning that insurers may have to hire specialists to carry out work and source rare materials when resolving a claim you’ve made. Standard home insurance is unlikely to be up to the task and may leave you footing repair bills yourself.

Holiday home insurance: Similarly to unoccupied home insurance, holiday home insurance covers properties you may not spend time in for most of the year. However, holiday home cover can also provide you with protection if you decide to rent out your holiday home when you aren’t using it yourself.

Flat insurance: Insuring flats isn’t always as straightforward as insuring houses. This is because many flats have leasehold agreements, which may mean your building is collectively responsible for buildings insurance, or it may mean it’s already taken care of by the building owner. Read our guide on flat insurance to learn more.


What additional cover can I get with my home insurance?

Many insurers offer additional cover ‘add-ons’, for those who want a bit more protection from their policy.

Accidental damage cover

Accidental damage cover

Accidental damage cover protects you against any damage caused to your property or possessions due to an unexpected accident

Home emergency cover

Home emergency cover

Home emergency cover will cover the costs of any emergency repairs you need to make, such as a broken boiler, faulty electrics or a burst pipe.

Alternative accommodation

Alternative accommodation

Home severely damaged by flood or fire? Alternative accommodation cover will cover the costs of a hotel while your home is on the mend

Personal possessions cover

Personal possessions cover

To protect your valuables outside the home, you will need personal possessions cover. Sometimes this is included with contents insurance, so it is worth checking with your provider to make sure.

Bicycle cover

Bicycle cover

A good bicycle doesn’t come cheap, so it’s a good idea to add bicycle cover to your home insurance to cover the costs of replacing your bike if it’s damaged, lost or stolen.

Legal protection

Legal protection

Cover yourself against any legal fees that come about as a result of owning your home, including disputes with neighbours or tradespeople, and personal injury claims.

What details do I need to provide to get a home insurance quote?

We will need the following information to find you a new quote:

Property details

Property details

Including the type of property, number of rooms, year it was built, and what it was built with.

Occupant’s details

Occupant’s details

How many people live in the property, for how long they have lived there, and how often it is left unoccupied.

Security details

Security details

The locks fitted on the doors and windows, and whether an alarm is installed.

Personal details

Personal details

Including address, contact details, and employment details.

Rebuild cost of home

Rebuild cost of home

How much it will cost to rebuild your home if it were destroyed.

Value of household contents

Value of household contents

How much you estimate it will cost to replace your contents if they were destroyed.

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Do I need home insurance?

Unlike car insurance, home insurance in the UK is not mandatory. However, it’s recommended that everyone should get both contents and buildings insurance to protect their home and belongings should the unexpected happen. Without home insurance you will have to pay for any repairs or replace any valuables yourself. Also, many mortgage providers will require you to have home insurance until the end of your term at least.

How much does home insurance cost?

Many factors go into determining how much you pay for your home insurance. Your insurer will take into account the size of your home, the property’s rebuild value, the value of your contents and the area you live in. The level of cover you require will also affect your premiums, as will any extras you include in your policy. You will also be rewarded with cheaper premiums the longer you go without making a claim.

What does home insurance cover?

Buildings insurance will protect you against the costs of repairing your home after a fire, flood or other serious damage. Meanwhile, contents insurance will cover the costs of any damage, loss or theft your belongings inside your home. Always check with your insurer to see exactly what’s included, as it varies from policy to policy.

Does my credit score affect my home insurance?

Your credit score will not affect the cost of your home insurance. However, it does affect how you are able to pay for your home insurance. If you want to spread the cost of your home insurance by paying in monthly instalments, your insurer will run a credit check on you to assess your ability to pay. But if you choose to pay for the whole year, then you won’t need a credit check.

How high should I set my excess?

Like most types of insurance policy, you will have to pay an excess to make a claim on your home insurance. There are two types of excess – compulsory and voluntary excess. Your insurance provider will set your compulsory excess, but you can decide on what your voluntary excess is. Generally, the higher your voluntary excess is then the cheaper your monthly instalments will be. However, be careful as not to set your excess too high, as you need to keep it affordable to make a claim if you need to.

What is a single article limit?

A single article limit refers to the maximum amount your insurance provider will pay out for a particular item. This will vary between providers and also the covered items themselves. Make sure you’re aware of any single article limits placed on your valuables so that you know exactly how much you’re covered for.

How can I find out if my home is insured?

If you have a mortgage or own your home, then you will only be insured if you’ve bought home insurance yourself. If you’re not sure, have a look at your bank statements to see if there’s any evidence of payment, or your emails to see if there’s any correspondence with an insurance provider. If you rent your property, it’s the legal requirement of your landlord to get buildings insurance. However, it is up to you to get contents insurance to protect your belongings.

How do I make a claim on my home insurance?

If your home is burgled, the first thing you should do is call the police and take note of the crime reference number. You must then call your home insurance provider to let them know of the situation, and provide them with any photos you have as evidence. You may also need receipts for any belongings that have been stolen, or bank statements proving the purchase. You will then need to pay the excess – both the compulsory excess and the voluntary excess that you set yourself – in order for your insurer to pay out.

If your home is damaged by fire, flooding or any other event, take photographs of the damage and call your insurer to provide them with all the details. Your insurance provider will then assess what repair work needs to be done and will either reimburse you for the repairs you make or provide you with a contractor to do the repairs themselves. Again you will need to pay the excess.

You should always assess whether it’s worth making a claim. You will have to pay the excess yourself, and you may also lose your no-claims bonus if it’s not protected, meaning your home insurance premiums could go up in the future. Take a look at our guide on how to claim on your home insurance for a comprehensive answer

Will renovations affect my home insurance?

If you carry out any building work on your home, you need to tell your insurer about any changes you’re making. If you don’t let your insurance provider know of any changes structural changes to your property, then your home insurance policy could become invalidated when it comes to making a claim. Small changes, such as upgrading your bathroom, may not need to be declared, but it’s always worth checking with your insurer just to be sure.

Before you do any major work, you must provide your insurer with all the information they need. Depending on the situation, there will either be no changes to your policy, your premiums may increase slightly, or the renovation work may not be covered at all. If your insurance provider refuses to cover the work being done on your home, it may be worth getting renovation insurance, which will cover the cost of any damage to your property, theft of your contents or personal accidents during the renovation work.

Are my valuables only protected inside my home?

Most contents insurance policies will cover the costs of any damage or loss of your belongings inside your home. However, if you want to extend that protection to when you’re outside of your property, you may need to add personal possessions cover. This provides you cover for the loss, theft or damage to items such as laptops, mobile phones and jewellery when you’re out and about. But you still need to look after your things. If your insurance provider believes you were negligent regarding your possessions, you most likely won’t receive a payout.

Does my home insurance cover my garage and shed?

Typically, your garage, shed or any other outhouse on your property should be covered by both your buildings insurance and contents insurance. Garden insurance is also usually included with your contents insurance, meaning your pots, plants and other garden furniture should be protected. However, you should check with your insurance provider before taking out a policy to see exactly what’s covered, as the level of protection provided varies significantly between insurers.

Can I get home insurance if I live on a flood plain?

Yes. Wherever you are, you should be able to find a home insurance policy to meet your needs. However, if you live in an area prone to flooding then you may have to pay more than average for your cover. But due to a government initiative called the Flood Re scheme, it’s now easier than it ever has been to find flood insurance at an affordable price.

Why do trees affect my home insurance?

When applying for a home insurance policy, you may be asked about any trees in close proximity to your home. This is because trees pose a risk to the structure of your property, from either falling onto your home in high winds or through root damage. If you have any large trees within a few metres of your home, you may have to pay more for your buildings insurance, or some insurers may not even cover you at all.

Can I cancel my home insurance?

Of course, there are plenty of reasons why people might want to cancel their home insurance. If you have only recently taken out your home insurance, then cancelling is pretty simple. Legally, you have a two week “cooling-off” period, where you can cancel the policy easily. However, any time after the cooling-off period it is more difficult. Most providers will give you a pro-rata refund providing you have no claims for that year. It is often easier and cheaper to run down your deal before changing policy and wait until your annual renewal date.

Is home insurance mandatory?

Home insurance isn’t strictly required by law, but protecting your home with insurance is highly recommended. Most mortgages have made it a condition that you should at least have buildings insurance in place. Although contents insurance is up to you, it is worth asking yourself if you could afford to replace all of your possessions yourself if they were to be stolen or damaged.

Helpful information on home insurance

We've put together a collection of guides to help you make sure you find the right policy given your needs, and that you make the most of it once you've bought it.


Last reviewed: 1 June 2024

Next review: 1 July 2024