Flat insurance

There’s a few differences between insuring a flat and insuring a house. Whether you’re an owner or a tenant, here’s how to protect your flat and your possessions.

There’s a few differences between insuring a flat and insuring a house. Whether you’re an owner or a tenant, here’s how to protect your flat and your possessions.

Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
minute read
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Last Updated 16 MARCH 2022

Why do I need to know about flat insurance?

It doesn’t matter what type of flat you have – whether it’s a conversion, a high-rise or a mansion block – you want your home to be protected and safe. 

To tackle the housing shortage and the soaring demand for homes, flats have been springing up all over the UK in the last 10 years. Many are available through government schemes, making them more affordable to first-time buyers.

So if you’re one of the many people moving into a flat, whether you’re renting or buying, you’ll need to understand the subtle differences between house and flat insurance. Here’s what you need to know… 

Did you know?

Around 23.2% of properties – 6.10 million in England and Wales – are flats or maisonettes, according to council tax statistics for March 2021. London has a higher proportion of flats than anywhere else, with 56% of properties being flats or maisonettes.

Buildings insurance for flats

Buildings insurance covers the structure of your home – the floors, walls, roof and so on. If you aren’t sure of the basics, start by reading our guide to buildings insurance.

Whether you’re responsible for the buildings insurance for your flat will usually depend on whether you’re a freeholder or a leaseholder. If you’re a leaseholder, it’s very likely that the freeholder will be responsible for arranging buildings insurance and that you’ll pay your share of the premium through the service charge. However, it’s important to check your lease to see exactly what’s covered. 

If your freeholder hasn’t arranged buildings insurance, you’ll need to take out your own. One option is to club together with the other leaseholders in your building to do so. 

Read more about leasehold buildings insurance

Did you know?

There are around 4.6 million leasehold homes in England, and more than two thirds (3.2 million) of them are flats.

If you own or part own the building's freehold

As a sole freeholder you’ll need to arrange insurance to protect your building. You may want to look for specialist insurance, if for example you own a block of flats. 

If you jointly own the freehold of a building with a few flats in it, it may be possible to get buildings insurance just for your own flat, but it’s not necessarily ideal. Problems could arise if you needed to make a claim, but part of the building wasn’t insured. It may be better to get a joint policy with the other freeholders to insure the whole building and make sure that everything is covered. 

In all cases, it’s important to check that any policy covers the communal areas of the building – the stairwells, landing and communal gardens, for example.

If you rent your flat

As with any property, you don’t have to worry about buildings cover for your flat insurance if you’re renting – that’s your landlord’s responsibility. But you will need to think about insurance for the possessions you keep in your home.

What insurance do I need if I rent?

Contents insurance for flats

Contents insurance covers the personal possessions in your home. It doesn't include fixtures such as bathroom fittings or fitted kitchens, but it usually includes fitted carpets. It also includes everything you own, from your clothes and crockery to your books and electronics. 

If you aren’t sure of the basics, start by reading our guide to contents insurance.

To get the right amount of contents cover, you need to know how much your possessions will cost to replace. If you need help in working out the value of the contents of your flat, then our useful calculator can help you while you are getting a quote.

Remember to add up the value of all the contents of your home, from kitchen mugs to clothes, not just the valuable items – as otherwise you could end up underinsured and your claim may not be paid in full. You also want to make sure your policy covers you for the right amount so you’re not over insured, where you could end up paying too much for your contents insurance.

Flat contents insurance and building security

Among other things, your insurance provider will usually want to know about building security when they calculate your flat insurance premiums. You can expect to be asked if your flat is self-contained and has its own lockable entrance.

If you live in a house, you’ll be able to add extra security that might help to reduce your contents insurance premium. In a block of flats, you’d probably have to speak to the landlord or management company. 

If you want to boost the security of your flat, it might be worth chatting to other owners to see if they’re also keen. You could club together for a camera or beefed-up locks at the entrance, and it’s always worth asking whoever owns the building if they’ll contribute too.

Contents insurance for shared flats

If you share a flat with other people, you have the option of getting contents insurance for the whole flat, or insurance that covers the items in your room only

In some cases, such as if you’re a student living away from home, you might already have cover under your parents’ policy. So check this before you consider buying new insurance as you don’t want to end up paying for it twice.

What kind of add-ons can I get with the insurance on my flat? 

At an extra cost, you can add additional cover to your home insurance policy for: 

  • Home emergency, which offers help in emergency situations such as a broken boiler. If you’re renting, your landlord may have this cover.
  • Accidental damage for mishaps that damage your home or possessions
  • Personal possessions outside the home for items you take outside your flat like wallets laptops and jewellery.
  • Legal expenses - this could cover your legal costs if you get into a dispute with neighbours, which could be helpful for flat-dwellers.
  • Alternative accommodation is sometimes included as standard in policies or you may need to add it as an extra. This could pay for the costs of somewhere to live temporarily if your flat is uninhabitable, for example because of fire or flood.

Compare flat insurance

When you compare home insurance with us, we’ll ask you what type of home you live in so we can show you policies that cater for flats like yours. As there are so many different insurance providers offering insurance for flats, it’s well worth shopping around to find the best policy. You want one at a good price that covers you for what you need. And remember price isn’t the only factor - you also need a policy that covers you for whatever situation you find yourself in. Otherwise if you buy the wrong policy, you could end up overpaying or in the worst-case scenario, not being able to claim.

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