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Buildings insurance

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[1] 51% of our customers were quoted less than £190.11 for their buildings home insurance in March 2024.

What is buildings insurance?

Buildings insurance could cover the cost of repairing or rebuilding after damage to the structure of your home such as the roof, walls or floors. Permanent fixtures and fittings, like your kitchen and bathroom, are usually covered by buildings insurance too.

Buildings insurance can also cover outside structures connected to your home, such as garages and pipes.

Do I need buildings insurance for my home?

You may need buildings insurance if:

  • You’re a homeowner with a mortgage: your lender will usually insist that you have adequate buildings cover for the length of your mortgage. You’ll typically need to have buildings insurance in place on the date you exchange contracts, as this is when you become legally responsible for the property.
  • You own a home without a mortgage: although there’s no legal requirement to have buildings insurance, repairs to your home can be very expensive. Taking out a buildings insurance policy could potentially save you money in the long run if you make a valid claim.
  • You’re a landlord: as the owner of the building you’re responsible for any repairs. Buildings insurance can cover these costs. Read our guide to landlord insurance.

You may not need buildings insurance if:

  • You’re renting: it’s usually your landlord’s responsibility to have buildings insurance in place. But as a tenant, you’ll need to arrange your own contents insurance.
  • You own a leasehold flat: the building that your flat is a part of may be insured by the freeholder. You might have to pay some of the buildings insurance through a service charge. You should always check to see if you need to arrange your own cover though. Find out more about buildings insurance for flats.

Do I need buildings insurance when buying a house?

If you need a mortgage to buy your new home, buildings insurance will usually be a condition of your mortgage. This is to protect the value of the asset that the lender is giving a mortgage for.

Your lender should give you a choice of providers, or let you choose for yourself. They can't make you choose their own insurance policy, unless offering you a mortgage package with the insurance bundled in. They can, however, reject your choice of provider.

Is buildings insurance a legal requirement?

No, unlike car insurance, there isn't a legal requirement for you to have home buildings or contents insurance.

What is covered by buildings insurance?

Buildings insurance can cover the cost of any structural repairs to your home if it’s damaged by:

If your home is destroyed, your buildings insurance should cover the cost of rebuilding it – provided you’ve insured it for the right amount.

Buildings insurance may also cover:

  • Gardens, patios and fences
  • Swimming pools
  • Garages
  • Sheds and outbuildings
  • Fitted kitchens and bathrooms
  • Underground pipes and cables bringing water and gas and electricity to your home and taking sewage away.

Policies vary so it’s important to check your policy wording to see exactly what it includes. You may need to pay an additional premium for some cover.

What extra cover can I add to buildings insurance?

You can choose to add extra cover for:

  • Accidental damage – to repair accidental damage to the structure of your home, and permanent fixtures and fittings.
  • Legal expenses cover – in case of a property dispute with your neighbours, for example, or if someone makes a claim against you after injuring themselves in your home.
  • Temporary alternative accommodation – if you have to be moved out of your home while it’s being repaired.
  • Home emergency cover – to cover urgent repairs. For example, if a pipe bursts, the central heating breaks down or a fuse box blows and leaves you without power.
  • Extra cover for flood damage if you live in a high-risk flood area.
  • Trace and access cover – to find the source of a water leak.
  • House keys cover – in case your keys are lost or stolen and you need to change the locks.

What is not covered by buildings insurance?

Buildings insurance typically excludes:

  • Damage caused by general wear and tear
  • Damage caused because your property hasn’t been maintained
  • Damage caused by poor workmanship or negligence
  • Damage caused by birds, insects or other pests
  • Frost damage to external pipes and brickwork
  • Any claims if your property has been left unoccupied for an extended period, unless you informed your insurance provider and arranged extra cover
  • Damage caused by home improvements or renovations if you didn’t discuss them with your insurance provider first.

Storm damage to sheds, greenhouse, fences and gates may be excluded by some providers but not all.

Always check your policy before you buy to see what is or isn't included.

Buildings insurance won’t cover your furniture, carpets, personal belongings or any gadgets in your home. For that you’ll need contents insurance.

What should I think about when comparing buildings insurance?

When you’re choosing buildings insurance, consider:

The type of damage your policy covers

Most policies will cover damage caused by fire, flood, subsidence, storms and other natural disasters. You can usually add accidental damage cover to your policy for mishaps such as drilling through a pipe or accidentally putting your foot through the ceiling.

Alternative accommodation

Covers the cost of alternative accommodation if your home is uninhabitable due to damage caused by an insured event, such as a fire or flood.

Read our guide to alternative accommodation insurance.

Compulsory and voluntary excess

The compulsory excess is set by the insurance provider, but you can choose how much voluntary excess you want to pay. You’ll have to pay both if you make a claim.

See more in our guide to home insurance excess.

No claims discount (NCD)

Your no claims discount works the same way it does for car insurance. If you don’t make a claim on your buildings insurance for 12 months, then you could get a discount on your premium for the following year.

See more on no claims discounts.

Unoccupied properties

Contact your insurance provider if your home is empty for any length of time. If it’s likely to be unoccupied for 30 days or more, your policy might not be valid. This means your insurance provider could refuse to pay out if you make a claim.

See our guide to unoccupied property insurance.

How much should I insure my property for?

It’s important to know that there’s likely a difference between your home’s market value and the cost of rebuilding your home. The cost of rebuilding your home is known as the ‘buildings sum insured’. As a general rule, the buildings sum insured is usually lower than the market value of your home, but this isn’t always the case.

It’s important to estimate the rebuild cost accurately. If you underestimate the rebuild value and your home is completely destroyed, then your insurance may not cover the full costs.

When you use Compare the Market, we have a tool based on the Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors that can help you easily work out the rebuild cost of a home like yours.

You should regularly review the rebuild amount that your home is insured for. With prices of materials and building work rising, you may need to increase the amount to make sure you’re not underinsured.

If you prefer, you can get your home surveyed to get the most accurate estimate possible.

Find out more about calculating the rebuild cost of your home.

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What factors affect your home’s rebuild value?

Several factors affect your home’s rebuild value including:

The size of your home: typically, the larger the home the more it would cost to rebuild. Make sure you provide details about the number of rooms in your home accurately. Even the number of doors and windows may impact the cost.

The age of your home: it may be more expensive to source suitable materials that fit with the age and style of your home, than with more modern building materials.

The materials used to build your home: this will be a key factor. If your home is made of non-standard materials, so something other than stone or brick, or it has a thatched roof, you may find it will be more expensive to rebuild or may require specialist home insurance.

If your home is a listed building: this will likely make rebuilding it much more expensive.

Your location: the cost of labour may be higher in some places. In others, remoteness and getting materials to the site may add costs. If the area is prone to flooding this may affect rebuild costs, if the property is to be made more flood-proof in future.

How much is buildings insurance?

Buy buildings insurance for less than £191 per year[1]

That’s just £15.84 per month when paid up front (excluding interest)[2]

Get combined home (buildings and contents) insurance for less than £214 per year[3]

The cost of home insurance is determined by a number of factors. With buildings insurance, the price is calculated according to how much your house would cost to rebuild. Your postcode also plays a role as your insurance provider will assess the likelihood of you making a claim based on where you live and the number of claims made in your local area.

[1] 51% of our customers were quoted less than £190.11 for their buildings home insurance in March 2024.

[2] 51% of our customers were quoted less than £15.84 per month in March 2024 for their buildings insurance based on the monthly cost when paying for the policy in one annual payment, excluding any interest charged on instalment payments.

[3] 51% of our customers were quoted less than £213.65 for their buildings and contents home insurance in March 2024.

How can I get cheaper buildings insurance?

There are several ways to help you quickly save money on your buildings insurance:

  • Compare quotes and providers – a time-saving way to shop around for buildings insurance is to use a service like Compare the Market. We compare a wide range of providers so you can find the right policy for you.
  • Combine your buildings and contents insurance – some providers will offer you better rates and a combined policy may be easier to manage if you need to make a claim.
  • A no claims discount – the longer you go without making a claim on your buildings insurance, the bigger your no claims discount is likely to be and the more you can potentially save.
  • Accurately value the rebuild cost of your home – if it's too high, you may be paying more than you need. But make sure you don't undervalue it as your payout might not be sufficient if you make a claim.
  • Increase your excess – If you’re able to increase the amount you pay towards a claim, you’ll usually pay a lower premium. But make sure you can afford to pay if you need to make a claim.
  • Pay upfront if you can. If you opt to pay in monthly instalments, you’ll typically be charged interest on top.
  • Get quotes around 28 days before renewal. Don't leave it to the last minute to get quotes to renew or switch your buildings insurance. Compare the Market found that you could save money by switching just under a month before your policy is due to renew.

What do I need to get a buildings insurance quote?

To get a buildings insurance quote, you'll need to give us some basic information about you, your property and the type of cover you’re looking for, such as:

  • Who’s living in your home
  • What you do for a living
  • How long you’ve lived in your home
  • When your home was built
  • How many rooms it has
  • What the walls are made from
  • Any problems or repairs you’ve had in the past
  • How much it would cost if you had to rebuild your home
  • How much excess you want to pay
  • If you want to include extra cover. For accidental damage, personal possessions or legal expenses, for example.

Start a building insurance comparison quote now.

Why use Compare the Market?

We compare prices for 84[4] home insurance products

We’re rated Excellent by 36,972 people[5]

[4] Correct as of March 2024.

[5] As of April 2nd 2024, Compare the Market had an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 from 41,487 people who left a review on Trustpilot. The score 4.8 corresponds to the Star Label ‘Excellent’.

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Author image Anna McEntee

What our expert says...

“No one likes to think of their property being damaged. But buildings insurance could give you the peace of mind of knowing that you’re financially protected if something happens to the structure of your house, for example if the roof is damaged in a storm or there’s a fire. And when you combine buildings insurance with contents insurance, you’ll know your home is covered – inside and out.”

- Anna McEntee, Home insurance expert

What do our customers say about our Home insurance comparison service?

Based on 28,737 reviews, customers who bought Home insurance rated our comparison service 4.7 out of 5.

Everything went smoothly and very happy with my price
Colin • 07/12/2023
Easy enough to complete
Customer • 13/11/2023
Quick and easy
Christopher • 05/12/2023
Very helpful
Lvaylo • 04/12/2023

Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between buildings insurance and contents insurance?

The main difference is that buildings insurance covers the structure of your home and contents insurance covers your belongings inside it.

Buildings insurance covers the structure of your home – the roof, walls, ceilings, floors, doors and windows – as well as any permanent fixtures and fittings, such as your kitchen or bathroom. It also covers pipes, cables and drains that belong to your house.

Contents insurance covers possessions you keep inside your home. This could be furniture, white goods, electronic appliances, gadgets, jewellery, clothes and artwork.

Insurance providers often bundle together buildings and contents insurance under the generic term ‘home insurance‘. It can often be more economical, and less hassle, to buy the two together.

What if my house is of non-standard construction?

If your home is built from something other than brick or stone walls with a slate or tile roof, it could be considered non-standard construction.

Steel or timber-framed homes fall into the non-standard category, together with properties that have glass or cob walls, or thatched roofs. Modular, prefab and kit homes are also considered non-standard.

This type of property is typically more expensive to rebuild or repair as it often requires specialist tradespeople to undertake the work. Therefore, buildings insurance is likely to be more expensive. You may also have a smaller choice of providers.

Is a garage considered a room?

It depends on how your garage is configured. If your garage is a separate building within the boundaries of your property, it will be considered an outbuilding. But if your garage is integrated into your property, such as in a town house, it varies among insurance providers.

If the garage has been converted into a living space, you’ll definitely need to count it as a room.

Will buildings insurance cover rising damp?

Most insurance policies won’t cover you for damage caused by rising damp or for condensation. But if you have rising damp, you’ll need to tell your insurance provider.

Buildings insurance typically covers one-off events that cause damage to your home. Damage due to damp happens over a long period of time so isn’t usually covered.

Can I get buildings insurance in a flood risk area?

It can be difficult to get buildings insurance if your home is in an area prone to flooding. But the government’s Flood Re scheme should be able to help. It’s designed to make sure people in high flood risk areas can get cover for their homes at affordable prices.

Does buildings insurance cover subsidence?

Your buildings insurance policy should cover the cost of repairing damage to your house caused by subsidence, but make sure you check.

If you make a claim for subsidence, or if your home has a history of it, you may find that you have to pay a higher premium. And you’ll probably have to pay a higher excess in the future – potentially as much as £1,000.

Do I have to get buildings insurance through my mortgage provider?

No, you don’t have to get buildings insurance from your mortgage provider, although some mortgage providers will include buildings insurance as part of a mortgage package.

If they don’t and they try to sell it to you separately, you don’t have to take it.

You’re free to shop around to find the right buildings insurance for you. But make sure it gives you adequate cover or your mortgage provider might not accept it.

Do leaseholders need buildings insurance?

It depends, so you'll need to check your lease. Often with buildings insurance for leasehold flats, the owner of the freehold will buy buildings insurance for the entire building and pass the cost onto the leaseholders through a service charge. This isn’t always the case though, so it’s important to read the lease carefully.

If it hasn’t been taken care of by the freeholder, you’ll need to arrange your own buildings insurance.

Am I covered for renovations and extensions?

It depends on your policy and the type of home improvement as to whether it's covered. You should always let your insurance provider know of any work that’s taking place and check with them to see if you’re covered.

How do I know when my property was built?

There are several ways to help you find out when your house was built:

  • Check your home or mortgage survey
  • Check your mortgage offer
  • Check the title deeds
  • Submit an enquiry to HM Land Registry (for properties in England and Wales)
  • Speak to your local council
  • Ask the seller or estate agent
  • Talk to your neighbours.

Can I get buildings insurance if I don’t own the property?

Yes, you can insure a property that you have a financial interest in even if you don’t own it.

If you’re buying a property, you should get insurance starting from the day you exchange contracts. Although you don’t yet own the property, you’ve legally contracted to buy it from the point of exchange. So you’ll need to be covered in case, for example, the property burns down or is flooded.

If you’re the executor of a will, you may need to make sure that any property included in the deceased person’s estate is insured until it’s disposed of. If the home is empty you’ll need to get unoccupied property insurance.

Page last reviewed on 12 APRIL 2024
by Helen Phipps