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What are the different types of home insurance?
There are a few different types of home insurance policies out there, so you will need to decide which one is the right one for you. Below are examples of some of the types of home insurance you can find cover for:
Building insurance protects the brick and mortar structure of the home from things like fire and flood.
Contents insurance covers the items in your home, from TVs and computers, to furniture, clothing and jewellery.
Tenants insurance covers loss or damage to your possessions, but can also cover any accidental damage you may cause to the rental property.
What does home insurance cover?
The situations covered by your home insurance will vary depending on the insurer you choose and the level of cover you opt for. However, the best policies generally provide cover against the following:
- Fire. If your home and/or contents are lost or damaged due to fire.
- Storm. Loss or damage caused by a storm, including violent winds, hail, snow, rain, thunderstorms, fallen trees or branches.
- Lightning. Loss or damage caused by lightning, or by a power surge caused by lightning.
- Flood. Protects you against loss or damage caused by water that has escaped the normal confines of a lake, river, or a number of other bodies of water. Some home insurance policies only offer flood cover as an option, not as an automatic inclusion, so make sure you check your policy documents.
- Earthquakes. This benefit ensures that you are covered against loss or damage caused by an earthquake.
- Water and oil leaks. When water or oil escapes from gutters, pipes, baths, toilets, appliances or a range of other household items, home insurance covers you for the resulting loss or damage.
- Theft or burglary. Covers you against loss or damage caused by theft, attempted theft or burglary.
- Malicious acts and vandalism. If your home or contents are damaged due to vandalism or a malicious act, your policy will cover you.
- Riots or civil commotion. Financial protection in the event that a riot, civil commotion, or industrial or political disturbance results in loss or damage to your home.
- Explosion. Loss or damage caused by an explosion, as well as a landslide or subsidence that occurs as an immediate result of an explosion.
- Impact damage. This benefit covers you against impact from objects such as falling trees, power poles, TV antennas, motor vehicles and meteorites.
What doesn’t it cover?
It is important to be aware of what you won’t be covered for under home insurance. Generally any damages caused by the following instances would not result in a home insurance payout:
- War. You would not be covered if damages were a result of war, invasion, rebellion or similar event.
- Radioactive contamination. You won’t be covered for damages resulting from ionising radiation or radioactive contamination from any nuclear fuel or from any nuclear waste.
- Sonic bangs You would not be covered if damages were a result of loss or damage caused by an aircraft travelling at or above the speed of sound.
- Pollution. You wouldn’t be covered by home insurance if damage or loss was the result of pollution or contamination.
- Terrorism. Each insurer will have their own definition of terrorism, but as a general rule any damage caused in relation to terrorist acts would not be covered by home insurance.
- Failure of computers & electrical equipment. Damage or loss due to any computer or other electrical equipment failing to correctly recognise the true calendar date or computer viruses.
- Deliberate acts. Any loss or damage caused by you or anyone lawfully in your home will not be covered.
- Existing damage. You wouldn’t be able to claim for any loss or damage that happened before cover started. Some policies also have a delayed start time too so be aware of the exact date you will be covered from with your policy.
How can I find the right cover?
- Know your cover needs. Before you start shopping for a policy, think about the risks you want to cover and the level of protection you need. Once you’re clear on the type of home insurance you’re after, you can start looking for the right policy.
- Read the policy docs. Don’t wait until it’s time to make a claim to check your policy documents, read them before you buy the policy. This will allow you to determine exactly what the policy includes, how much protection it offers, and under what circumstances cover would not be provided.
- Ask for recommendations. Check out online reviews and ask friends and family for their home insurance recommendations. Hearing from people who have actually had to make a claim on their policy is a great way to sort the strong policies and insurers from the weaker ones.
- Compare. Last but definitely not least, don’t settle for the first policy you find. Instead you should compare the benefits, cost, features and exclusions of a wide range of policies to work out which option provides the best value for money.
How much does home insurance cost?
The cost of home insurance depends on a number of different factors, including the type of policy you want to take out. However, the price of your policy is a crucial factor when comparing and choosing home insurance policies. When calculating the price of your home insurance, an insurer will consider the following factors:
- The sum insured. This is the maximum amount that your insurance company will pay in the event your home is totally destroyed. So the higher the level of cover you select, the more your premium will be. For example, if you want to cover your home to the tune of £1 million, don’t be surprised if your premiums are much higher than they are for someone who selects a sum insured of £300,000.
- The options you select. If you choose to tailor your policy to suit your needs by adding extra-cost options, your premiums will also be more expensive.
- Amount of excess. Many insurers offer a flexible excess on their home insurance policies, allowing you to choose a higher excess in return for lower premiums.
- Your home. Insurers will consider the age and construction of your home when calculating your premiums. This will help them determine how likely it is to withstand damage and how much it will cost to repair or rebuild.
- Where your home is located. If you live in an area prone to crime or floods, you may find that the increased risk of damage will push up your premiums.
- Security features. Insurance underwriters also consider how well your home is protected against theft and burglary. Installing a back-to-base security alarm is one way to reduce the cost of your premiums.
- Your claims history. If you’ve previously made multiple claims on a home insurance policy, you can also expect higher premiums when you take out a new policy.
- When you pay your premiums. Paying your premium as an annual lump sum is typically cheaper than if you pay in monthly instalments.
What can I do to bring down my premiums?
It is important to remember that the cheapest home insurance isn’t necessarily the best home insurance. If you’re looking for the cheapest insurance cover for your home, the single most important thing you can do is compare. Shop around for the best deal on the right kind of policy for you. This will help you make sure you are getting true value for money.
- Choose a higher excess. If you are given the option, you might want to consider opting for a higher excess, in return for lower premiums.
- Don’t add options you don’t need. Adding optional extras to your policy allows you to tailor home insurance protection to your requirements. Unfortunately, it also increases the premium, so make sure anything you add is absolutely essential.
- Build up a no-claims-bonus. Sometimes making a claim is unavoidable, but if your insurer offers a no-claim bonus, the cost of cover will be greatly reduced if you don’t submit any claims.
- Take advantage of discounts. Home insurers offer a variety of discounts to customers. These include discounts for having multiple policies with the insurer or for purchasing online.
- Review cover regularly. Just because a particular insurance policy was right for you a few years ago doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best fit now. Cover needs change all the time; maybe you’ve just invested in a top-of-the-line home entertainment system and want to upgrade your contents cover. In addition, insurers are constantly updating their policies and premiums. Don’t be afraid to compare your options and see if you can find a better deal.
- Improve your home’s security. Simple things like installing a burglar alarm or extra door locks could help reduce your premiums. It reduces your risk for the insurer and so they are likely to reward you with lower premiums.
- Pay annually. Insurers tend to charge more if you pay your premiums monthly rather than in one annual sum.
Common home insurance traps to avoid
It is important to watch out for these common traps when choosing cover:
- Underinsurance. Don’t be tempted to skimp on cover just so you can slightly lower your premiums. Make sure any policy you select provides adequate cover for you to completely rebuild your home and replace all your belongings.
- Paying for cover you don’t need. Before adding any extra-cost options to your policy, make sure you actually need them. Ask yourself is it something you could survive without?
- Renewing without reviewing. Don’t simply pay your annual home insurance renewal when it arrives each year. Insurers are always competing for more business and offering attractive savings to new customers. It’s worth shopping around to see if you can find the same or better cover at a more affordable price.
- Cover limits. Make sure you check the maximum limit to which an insurer is willing to cover any single item. For example, while your engagement ring may be worth £15,000, your insurer may only provide up to £3,000 cover for jewellery.