Buildings insurance

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Home buildings insurance cover

Buildings insurance is often compulsory with a mortgage, but the good news is you’re free to shop around for a home insurance provider that suits your needs - not just what your mortgage provider offers you. We'll help you find a policy that suits your needs.

In This Guide:

What is buildings insurance?

Buildings insurance insures the literal structure of a property against damage. Most policies will also usually cover permanent fixtures like a fitted kitchen or bathrooms. If you need to cover outbuildings, like garages or sheds, you'll often need to add additional cover.

What does buildings insurance cover?

Building insurance will cover the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home should the structure or fittings become damage. Cover obviously changes between providers, you should be able to claim if your home has suffered:

  • Vandalism
  • Subsidence
  • Fire, smoke and explosions
  • Water from leaking pipes or from external flooding
  • Falling trees
  • Vehicle collisions into your property
  • Storms and adverse weather

Should I get buildings insurance?

If you’re a homeowner it is highly recommended that you get building insurance. Legally you need it if:

  • Your home is mortgaged – it’ll usually be a condition of the mortgage
  • You live in a flat and own the freehold – this could be individually or jointly with other tenants. If you only own the leasehold, it’s usually the landlord’s responsibility
  • You’re a landlord who rents out property that you own

If you rent your home, you won’t need buildings insurance. But it is probably worth taking out contents insurance just in case.

Remember you can choose whichever provider suits you best. No one can force you to take out insurance with them, and you should carefully consider your options before making a decision.

Things to consider when comparing building insurance quotes

You should work out first and foremost how much cover you’ll need. This comes down to, how much would it cost to rebuild your home? This amount isn’t the same as the value of your home were you to sell it, but there are plenty of tools to help you. Use the Association of British Insurers’ rebuild calculator – you need to register but it is free to use.

Not all providers will ask for a rebuild sum – some may offer an unlimited sum insured. If this is the case there are likely to be exclusions (things that won’t be covered). Again, carefully check your policy before you make a decision.

Building insurance policy exclusions

Most insurance policies will have exclusions. You should read the policy wording very carefully to avoid having a claim turned down. Make sure you know what is covered and what’s not before choosing your policy.

Garden fences which are damaged in a storm or fitted kitchen appliances, like boilers may not be covered outright. Some policies will cover things like this, but some won’t or will have it as an option extra. It’s very important you know what your signing up for.

If you have a thatched roof be very careful about your policy, many providers will not cover thatched roofs as standard. It’s crucial you check this before choosing a provider and policy, standard insurance will be for properties built from bricks with tiled roofs. Make sure that you tell your insurer what materials your home is built from, this will affect things like your premium!

Check that accidental damage is included within your cover. You’ll be surprised how many people don’t have accidental damage covered within their policy. You don’t want to be caught out.

Accidental damage cover includes things like broken windows, cracked basins and damaged pipes. If you don’t have this in your policy and you claim, you will be denied and have to pay for the damage yourself.

Buildings insurance: extra cover

Make sure your policy covers what you need it to. If you want your boiler covered for example, check if it’s included as standard or if you’ll need to pay extra. Not all policies will offer boiler cover and some will even include an annual servicing.

If you think that you might want to extend your property one day or do a loft conversion, then you need to check to see if your policy will allow for this. Some policies won’t cover you while you have building work done, but others will allow for a degree of cover while the work is ongoing. If you do have work done on your property make sure you tell your insurers.

Make sure you take into account where your property is! If you are in an area which may flood, make sure you are covered for this! It may affect your premiums, but you should make sure that your insurer covers you regardless.

Important: make sure you maintain your property

It’s important that you keep your property in a reasonable condition - most insurers will expect this from you. So, make sure you keep your gutters clear and check your walls for rot. It’s important you have things like smoke alarms and don’t put things down the toilet which may cause blockages.

Keeping your roof fit for purpose is another important aspect of maintaining your property - buildings insurance requires you to tell your provider if there’s an issue. You must know if there is a problem to inform them. Don’t let your house fall down around your ears and then expect a pay out.

Frequently asked questions

What is the average cost of buildings insurance?

Home insurance premiums are currently at their highest point since 2013. As of Q2 2020 the average building only policy would set you back £112 per month. This is an 11% increase from the previous year.

What is the best building insurance?

Exactly what is deemed best will vary from person to person. Having an adequate amount of coverage for your own personal circumstances will always be the best solution for each individual. It’s important to do your research on a company before taking out a policy to make sure that they will be the right one for you.

Is it a legal requirement to having building insurance?

Buildings insurance is not a legal requirement although many homeowners choose to have it for peace of mind in the case of serious damage to the home. Many mortgage providers will include a requirement for a minimum level of building cover as a stipulation in being able to borrow money. This means that while it may not be legal, not having adequate cover could prevent you from being able to own a home.

Does buildings insurance cover water leaks?

In most instances yes, if the water leak has caused damage to the structure of the building then this should be covered by your policy. There will be certain situations where you will not be covered, however. For example, if the water leak is not just your fault but due to extreme negligence then the insurer might be able to prevent you from being able to make a claim.

Will building insurance cover my garden wall?

In most instances it will. Buildings insurance is designed to cover the permanent structure of your home and your garden wall should be covered as part of this. As always though it’s important to check and if for whatever reason the cover does not extend to your garden you can get separate garden insurance.

Related guides

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Last reviewed: 1 May 2024

Next review: 1 June 2024