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.
What does home insurance cover?
Your level and type of cover will depend on the type of policy you take out:
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.
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 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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
Investing in high-security locks on doors and windows, and installing a burglar alarm could make your policye 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 additional cover can I get with my home insurance?
Many insurers offer additional cover ‘add-ons’, for those who who want a bit more protection from their policy.
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 will cover the costs of any emergency repairs you need to make, such as a broken boiler, faulty electrics or a burst pipe.
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
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.
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.
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:
Including the type of property, number of rooms, year it was built, and what it was built with.
How many people live in the property, for how long they have lived there, and how often it is left unoccupied.
The locks fitted on the doors and windows, and whether an alarm is installed.
Including address, contact details, and employment details.
Value of household contents
How much you estimate it will cost to replace your contents if they were destroyed.
Why compare home insurance with Money Expert?
Save money on your policy
You could pay less than £166*
92% of users gave an 'excellent' or 'great' rating**
Compare deals from over 50 of the biggest home insurance providers in the country.***
Comparing home insurance with Money Expert couldn’t be simpler. Answer a few questions about your home and your circumstances, and we will compare offers from over 50 different providers***. The whole comparison process takes less than 10 minutes!
Be the Money Expert. See how much you could save today.Get a new quote
*51% of consumers who purchased Home Building & Contents Insurance through this service provided by Seopa Ltd in September 2022 were quoted less than £165.18. The price you could achieve is dependent on your individual circumstances.
** 92% of 16,077 reviews from TrustPilot gave an “Excellent” or “Great” rating, as of October 2022. Overall rating on TrustPilot was 4.6 / 5 as of October 2022.
*** Correct as of May 2023
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.
It's important to make sure that your home insurance covers against flood damage, especially if you live in a high-risk area.
High value gadgets may need specialist cover, but the right contents policy can offer cover even when you're out of the house.
Single Article Limits
Contents insurance policies typically set a maximum amount that you can claim against for a single item.
Safest places to live in the UK
The cost of your home insurance will go up or down based on how safe the area you live in is judged to be.
Home Appliance Insurance
Appliances will often be the most expensive items in your home, so it's important to make sure your contents policy is extensive enough.
The cost of jewellery insurance can vary not only based on the price of the valuables, but also on the extent your home security setup.
Home insurance and pets
If you've got any pets, you'll want to make sure that both your buildings and contents insurance cover against damage they might cause.
Listed Buildings Insurance
Listed buildings will generally cost more to insure, as well as having unique cover requirements.
New Build Home Insurance
New build homes often come with protection against structural damage for a set period.
Rebuild costs are the key thing you'll need covered in the event of serious structural damage.
Trees and home insurance
Any trees on or near your property might affect the cost of buildings cover as they can damage your foundations.
Standard home insurance policies often exclude boiler repair, so you might need a dedicated boiler cover policy.
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.
Last reviewed: 1 May 2023
Next review: 1 June 2023