Buildings insurance

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[1] 51% of our customers were quoted less than £129.33 for their buildings home insurance in March 2023.

What is buildings insurance?

Buildings insurance could cover the cost of repairing damage or rebuilding the structure of your home if it’s damaged or destroyed by a fire, flood or storm.

A buildings insurance policy normally includes cover for your roof, floors and walls, as well as any permanent fixtures and fittings, like your kitchen and bathroom. Buildings insurance can also cover outside structures connected to your home, such as garages and pipes.

Do I need buildings insurance?

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, remember that repairs to your home can be very expensive. Taking out a buildings insurance policy could save you money in the long run and might give you peace of mind too.
  • 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 freehold building that your flat is a part of may be insured by the landlord of the building and 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.

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 full cost of rebuilding it.

Buildings insurance may also cover:

  • Gardens and patios
  • 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.

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 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
  • Damage caused by birds, insects or other pests
  • Storm damage to fences, gates and plants
  • 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.

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 choosing 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, then your policy might not be valid and 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 Comparethemarket, we have a tool based on the Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors that helps you easily work out the rebuild cost of a home like yours.

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?

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

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

How much does buildings insurance cost?

Buy buildings insurance for less than £130 per year[1]

That’s just £10.78 per month[2]

Get combined home (buildings and contents) insurance for less than £163 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 £129.33 for their buildings home insurance in March 2023.

[2] 51% of our customers were quoted less than £10.78 per month in March 2023 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 £162.39 for their buildings and contents home insurance in March 2023.

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 – the quickest way to shop around for buildings insurance is to use a service like Comparethemarket. We compare a wide range of providers so you can find the right policy for you.
  • Combine your buildings and contents insurance – providers will usually offer you better rates and a combined policy is 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.
  • Pay upfront – if you can. If you opt to pay in monthly instalments, you’ll typically be charged interest on top.

What do I need to get a buildings insurance quote?

We’ll need 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.

Why use Comparethemarket?

We compare prices for 77[4] home insurance products

We're rated Excellent by 27,220 People on Trustpilot[5]

[4] Correct as of March 2023.

[5] As of April 2023 Comparethemarket had an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 from 27,220 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?

Based on 17,693 reviews, our customers rated us 4.7 out of 5.

Easy to use. Great prices. Thanks again you lovely meerkats!
Mel21 • 04/01/2021
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Hoofa • 17/10/2021

Frequently asked questions

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

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

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

See more on non standard construction home insurance.

Is a garage considered a room?

It depends. 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, 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.

See more on garage insurance.

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.

Read our guide to condensation and damp.

Do I need buildings insurance if I rent?

Not usually. The building is the landlord’s responsibility so it’s up to them to put this cover in place. But if you want financial protection for your possessions, you’ll need contents insurance.

Find out more about rental contents insurance.

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.

See more on Flood Re.

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.

Find out more about subsidence and home insurance.

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

No, you don’t, 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.

Read our guide to getting your buildings insurance from your mortgage provider.

Do leaseholders need buildings insurance?

It depends. Often, with 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, then you’ll need to arrange your own buildings insurance.

See our guide to leasehold buildings insurance.

Am I covered for renovations and extensions?

It depends on your policy and the type of home improvement. 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. You might also want to consider accidental damage insurance to protect your home and contents from any damage caused by DIY home improvements.

For more information, read our guide to buildings insurance and home improvements.

Do I need buildings insurance for unoccupied properties?

If you’re leaving your home or property empty for an extended period of time, you’ll need to arrange extra cover with your insurance provider or get a specialist policy to cover unoccupied properties. The amount of time you can leave your home empty before arranging this cover varies, but it’s typically needed for more than 30 days. Read the terms of your home insurance policy carefully to find out.

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.

For more information, read our guide When was my house built?

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 13/04/2023
by Helen Phipps