Home Insurance FAQs
Home insurance cover comes in two parts – buildings insurance and contents insurance. You can choose either one or both of these based on your needs.
Buildings cover insures your bricks and mortar for events like fire and weather damage, while contents cover could protect your belongings against problems like theft, damage and loss.
Buying a combined policy from the same insurer can often be cheaper than getting two separate policies.
If you’re a homeowner, most mortgage lenders insist you have buildings cover in place to protect their investment.
You don’t usually need buildings cover if you’re renting, but you may want contents insurance to help cover the cost of replacing your things if you suffer a loss.
Adding a joint policyholder allows the other person to make a claim, so it’s not only you who can deal with communications with your insurer.
Under some circumstances it can also lower your premium.
Most insurers define accidental damage as an unintentional one-off incident that harms your property or its contents.
Most standard policies cover key items like home entertainment, but there may be varying exclusions depending on your insurer.
Your need depends on your circumstances – many accidental damage claims come from people with young children.
It’s also important to know what’s covered under your standard policy. Checking the small print is the best way to make sure you’ve got adequate cover.
No – unless it’s a specific requirement of your mortgage contract.
By being the only insurer offering you buildings cover when you’re arranging your mortgage, there’s less need for them to competitively price your insurance policy.
As a rule of thumb, anything you’d take with you if you moved house should be included on your contents policy – including items like curtains and carpets.
It’s worth taking the time to go around your house from room to room and putting a reasonable value on everything.
It’s easy to underestimate the value of your contents, but it’s important to make sure you’re not underinsured.
The golden rule of voluntary excess is to make sure you know what you can afford to pay if you have to make a claim.
The more you agree to pay towards a claim, the less cost there would be for your insurer, so they may reduce your premium accordingly.
But beware – setting an unreasonably high voluntary excess may save you a few pounds on your premium in the short term, but if ever you need to make a claim, you could find yourself with a large bill to settle before your insurer will pay out.
For example, if you’ve told your buildings insurer that your roof is in good repair, they will base your premium on the known risk of storm damage happening to the average roof.
But if, in fact, your guttering is already falling off, or your tiles are coming loose, then there’s a greater than average risk of damage happening during a storm – something your insurer hasn’t covered against on your original premium.
As the full risks weren’t disclosed, you’re effectively insuring higher risks at a cheaper price, which could invalidate your policy and leave you without a pay out in the event of a claim.
Most home insurance policies don’t cover damage caused by pets as standard. To cover this, you’ll often need to buy standalone pet insurance.
As the owner, your landlord will be responsible for the maintenance of the building, so it’s down to them to ensure their property is protected with buildings insurance.
But you’re responsible for any contents inside that you own. If anything were to happen to your possessions, you would liable yourself for the cost of replacing them.
You need to inform your insurer of any changes to your building and/or your contents which may impact on the cover you have.
The key point to remember is that your contract with your insurer is based on mutual disclosure of information – they charge you a “fair” premium, based on the risks you’ve made them aware of. If these risks change, so too does the value of a “fair” premium.
If in doubt, ask your insurer. The time taken for a quick phone call could save any problems that arise in the event of a claim.