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Best house and contents insurance
Want the best house and contents insurance for you? Discover how to find a policy that fits you like a glove.
So you want the best house and contents insurance policy. Don’t we all?!
While there’s no holy grail insurance policy that’s right for everyone, there are a few ways you can make sure you’re getting the best policy for your needs.
Compare house and contents insurance policies
What's in this guide?
- Compare house and contents insurance policies
- How can I make sure I'm buying the best house and contents insurance policy?
- 9 hacks to chop your house and contents insurance premium
- What should the best house and contents insurance cover?
- What additional cover options are there?
- Understanding key house and content insurance terms
- What should I look for when trying to find the best house and contents insurance company?
- Switching insurers – can you find a better deal?
- Commonly questions about house and content insurance
How can I make sure I’m buying the best house and contents insurance policy?
There’s a lot to consider when choosing house and contents insurance and the whole process can start to seem a little daunting. To make things easier and help you find the best insurance policy for your needs, remember the following tips:
- Don’t skimp on the sum insured. Don’t try and save a couple of bucks on your premium by dropping your sum insured too low. Make sure the level of cover you choose would be sufficient to completely replace your home if it was completely destroyed.
- Choose an affordable excess. Most insurers allow you to vary your excess when you apply for cover – the higher the excess you choose, the cheaper your premium. Just make sure you can afford to pay that excess if you need to make a claim.
- Check cover limits. Make sure the policy provides sufficient cover for your valuable items by checking the PDS for cover limits and sub-limits. For example, if your $3,500 computer is destroyed by fire and your policy limits computer cover to a maximum of $1,000, you’ll end up significantly out of pocket.
- Check the exclusions. Not only is it important to know what your policy covers, but also what it doesn’t cover. Read the list of general exclusions in the PDS so you’re fully aware of those situations and events when your insurer won’t pay claims.
- Compare! The only way to find the best house and contents insurance policy for you is to compare multiple policies. In the digital world this really is easy to do, so compare quotes, cover features, limits and exclusions to work out which policy stands head and shoulders above the competition.
House and contents insurance may be an essential purchase but it doesn’t have to be an expensive one. Keep the following tips in mind to help reduce your insurance premiums:
- Compare quotes and shop around. How do you know whether a policy provides good value if you don’t compare it with offerings from other insurers? It’s a piece of cake to compare house insurance quotes online, so start shopping around for the best deal straight away.
- Choose a lower level of cover. Many insurers provide multiple levels of house and contents insurance cover, so instead of paying a high price for top-level cover if you don’t need it, consider whether a basic (and cheaper) policy might be sufficient for your needs.
- Don’t pay for options you don’t need. Adding optional extras to your policy can increase your level of cover, but it also increases your premium. Make sure any extras you purchase provide essential cover.
- Increase your excess. Most house and content insurers allow you to adjust your excess when you buy a policy. By choosing a higher excess to pay if you have to make a claim, you’ll receive a lower premium.
- Buy online. It’s common practice for insurers to offer substantial discounts to customers who buy their policy online rather than over the phone or in store. It’s also quick, easy and convenient to compare policies and quotes online, so buying cover electronically has many benefits.
- Combine cover. Combining house insurance and contents insurance together can lead to sizeable premium reductions.
- Secure your home. Alarm systems and other security measures can act as a major deterrent for burglars. As a result, overhauling your home’s security system can greatly reduce the cost of cover.
- Don’t just renew. Instead of just blindly paying the premium renewal your insurer sends out each year, spend some time comparing cover from other insurers. Not only could you save yourself some money, but you could also find a policy that better suits your needs.
- Keep an eye out for other discounts. Depending on the insurer, you may also be able to take advantage of a range of other special offers.
At the very minimum, your house and contents insurance policy should cover you for:
- Damage from natural disasters such as storms, earthquakes, floods
- Water or liquid damage from leaking pipes
- Impact damage
- Damage caused by accidents
- Legal liability cover
If you make a claim for loss or damage caused by any of the above events, house insurance can cover:
- Repair and rebuilding costs for your home
- Demolition and removal of debris
- Professional fees as part of the rebuilding process, for example architects and surveyors
- The cost of lodging council plans
- Emergency accommodation while your home is unfit to live in
- Emergency repairs
- Ensuring worker safety on the building site
- Replacement of locks and keys following theft
If you make a claim on your contents insurance, you’ll be covered for:
- Repair or replacement of contents
- Food spoilage
- Taking contents to your new home
- Credit card theft
- Accidental damage
- Replacement of locks and keys following theft
Finally, all house insurance policies include liability cover. This benefit provides protection for your legal liability if a claim is made against you for an incident that causes:
- Death or bodily injury to someone else; or
- Damage to someone else’s property
What kind of exclusions are there?
Unfortunately, house and contents insurance doesn’t cover every little thing that could potentially go wrong and cause damage to your home. Just like with any other type of insurance, it’s important to check the list of house and contents insurance general exclusions before choosing a policy.
While what is and isn’t covered differs between insurers, your insurance claim will generally not be paid if:
- Your home is unoccupied for an extended period. Going away on holidays for a few months? Most insurers won’t provide any cover if your home is left unoccupied for an extended period, usually 60 consecutive days or more. However, if you inform the insurer of your travel plans ahead of time it’s usually possible to keep cover in place.
- You fail to properly secure your home. If your home isn’t secure, well-maintained and watertight, or if you fail to take reasonable steps to secure it after suffering loss or damage, your claim will be refused.
- There’s existing damage. House insurance will not provide cover for any damage that already existed to your house when you purchased a policy.
- You’re renovating. If you’re conducting extensive renovations on your home, most house and contents insurance policies won’t provide any cover. Instead, you may need to invest in construction insurance to guarantee that your home stays protected.
- You deliberately cause loss or damage. Home insurance covers against a broad range of unexpected events, not against intentional acts by you, your family members or someone acting with your consent.
- You engage in criminal activity. Insurers will not pay any claims that arise because you were engaging in criminal or illegal activity. So if your secret meth lab burns the whole house down, rest assured that your insurer won’t provide any cover.
- Your building has structural faults. If your claim arises due defects in the design, structure, materials, workmanship or construction of your home, no cover is available.
- Your claim is for wear and tear. If your claim is caused by wear and tear, gradual deterioration, rust, rot, mould or mildew, don’t expect any cover from your house and contents insurance policy.
- Your home is used for business. If you use your property to conduct any business, trade, profession, occupation or for any commercial purposes, no cover is provided. However, home offices could be included in cover.
- You rent your home to other people. If you’re taking part in a house swap or renting out a room or your entire property through an accommodation sharing website like Airbnb, you will not be covered for any loss or damage that results. Read our guide on holiday home insurance.
What additional cover options are there?
If you want to tailor content insurance cover to suit your needs, you can also purchase the following optional covers by paying an additional premium.
- Increased cover for valuable items. In some cases, the maximum amount your contents insurer pays out for contents claims may not be enough to replace high-value items, such as jewellery, collections and works of art. By paying an additional premium, you can increase the level of cover for specified valuable items
Understanding key house and content insurance terms
|Term||What it means|
|Accidental breakage||This benefit covers the accidental breakage of glass and ceramics in your home. Some items, such as televisions, electronics, fine china and tiles, may be restricted or excluded from cover|
|Accidental damage||This benefit covers unintentional mishaps that cause loss or damage, for example red wine spills on carpet.|
|Defined events||Most house and content insurance policies cover defined events, such as fire, storm, theft, vandalism, explosion and earthquake.|
|Excess||The amount you are required to pay for each incident if you make a claim|
|Insured event||Any event listed in and covered by your policy, for example fire, storm or theft|
|New-for-old replacement||Covers the cost of new equivalent items to replace contents that are damaged beyond repair or stolen and not recovered|
|Sum insured||This is the amount for which you insure your house or contents|
|Total replacement cover||This type of house insurance policy pays the full cost of replacing your building|
What should I look for when trying to find the best house and contents insurance company?
Choosing cover is not just about finding the best house and contents insurance, but also about finding the best insurer. While it’s simply not possible to nominate one insurer as being “better” than all the rest, there are a few factors you should consider when comparing house insurance companies:
- Customer service. Is your insurance provider easy to deal with? Do they have an online chat service? Can you contact them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Making a house insurance claim can be a very stressful time, so being able to deal with an insurer that’s easy to contact at all times is crucial.
- Claims process. How easy is it to lodge a claim with the insurer? Is there a 24/7 claims service available? Can you submit a claims form and supporting documentation online? If you need to make a claim you want the entire process to be as smooth and hassle-free as possible, so investigate how you can claim and how long the insurer takes to process claims.
- The underwriter. It’s also essential to consider the underwriter that actually issues the house and contents insurance policy. Is it a respected company with ample experience and a strong financial position? Does it have a good reputation for paying out claims?
- Policies offered. Does the insurer offer house and contents insurance that has the benefits and features you need? Can you tailor cover to your requirements by adding or removing optional extras?
- Reviews and recommendations. Check out online reviews to find out what sort of experiences other homeowners have had with the same insurer. Ask friends and family members who they insure with and whether they would recommend their insurer.
Switching insurers – can you find a better deal?
Many people take a ‘set and forget’ approach to house and contents insurance. Sure, they might do a thorough comparison the first time they buy cover, but once they’ve chosen an insurer they tend to simply pay their policy renewals each and every year without searching for a better deal.
But this can be a costly mistake for two reasons:
- You could be paying too much for cover. Don’t assume that just because you’re a long-term customer your insurer will offer you the best possible price. You may be able to access an equivalent level of cover from another insurer but at a much lower price.
- There could be a better policy out there. Your house and contents insurance policy might have met your needs 5 or 10 years ago when you last compared cover, but there’s every chance your cover needs will have changed since then. There may also be different policies and cover feature available in today’s insurance market, so shopping around could help you find cover that’s better tailored to your requirements.
So when your next house and contents insurance renewal appears in your letterbox or email inbox, don’t just pay the premium quoted to you straight away. Take some time to compare quotes from a few other insurers to see if there’s a better deal out there. Switching insurers is quick and easy, and it can make a surprisingly big difference to your bank balance as well.
Commonly questions about house and content insurance
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