Home insurance renewals – getting it right

Making sure your home is covered, is really important – and not many people can argue with that. But when it comes to renewing your home insurance policy, how many times have you simply agreed to continue with the same cover without even thinking about it? We know it’s probably easier just to renew but before you do – perhaps it’s about time you thought about asking yourself some of these questions?

Is my home insurance still fit for purpose?

Just because a home insurance policy was adequate 12 months ago, doesn’t guarantee it’s still fit for purpose when it comes around to renewal time. Life moves on and if the value of your home and its contents increases or decreases, you could find yourself either under insured or paying over the odds.

Home insurance is there to protect your home and the things inside it – it wouldn’t be much use otherwise. So while price is important, you might not want it to be the overriding factor in deciding what policy to go for. However, renewal time is always a good opportunity to reassess what your policy costs and making sure you’re getting the right level of cover for the best possible price.

In a perfect world, we’d think about our home insurance throughout the year, tweaking it here and there as and when new items get bought or old ones discarded. In reality though, that’s unlikely to happen which is why it’s even more important to spend time thinking about your renewal

What should I consider when I renew my home insurance?

Some of the key things that need considering when a policy is up for renewal include whether anything might have depreciated or increased in value or if any new items have been bought.

Valuable family heirlooms like jewellery or antiques might increase in value over the course of a year. Particularly expensive items may need to be individually specified on an insurance policy if it exceeds the ‘single article limit’.

A single article limit is basically the maximum value that any item can have before it needs to be listed separately. How much that limit is, will depend on the policy and it can vary from £1,000 all the way up to £15,000. So, for example, if the single article limit on your policy was £1,500 and your engagement ring was worth twice that – you’d need to tell your insurance provider (and probably pay a bit more to get it insured).

Also, think about anything new that’s been bought – a new sofa, bed or even a wedding dress – you’ll want to protect all of these so make sure your policy reflects them. But it’s not just the stuff inside, have there been any external upgrades – a conversion or extension? Physical changes to your home will also need to be taken into account.

What circumstances could affect my home insurance quote?

Personal circumstances also affect home insurance although this doesn’t seem immediately obvious. But things like changing jobs or getting a lodger can all impact home insurance policies.

Some jobs are riskier than others as far as insurance providers are concerned. These include jobs that take occupants out of the property for long periods of time or during the night, leaving a house unguarded against thieves. It can also include jobs that bring people into your home. These ‘high risk’ jobs include DJs, childminders, personal tutors and even actors who might have to work away for lengthy periods. So, if you’ve switched jobs in the last 12 months, it’s always worth letting your insurance provider know.

Another big impact is having a lodger in your home and whilst you might only be doing a friend a favour, it’s something insurance providers need to know. Failing to mention having a lodger might not sound like a big deal, but worst case scenario – it could invalidate your policy.

If there’s any doubt about whether a new job, change in lifestyle or living arrangements will impact your home insurance, it’s always best to ask your insurance provider for advice. Far better to pay a slightly higher premium than to find out your policy’s null and void.

Why is underinsuring bad?

Underinsuring means that the value of cover is not enough to replace all the items under a policy. It might mean lower premiums but it could ultimately lead to insurance providers limiting their liability – leaving policyholders seriously out of pocket.

It’s estimated that one in five homes could be underinsured but it’s an easy thing to do. Most of us simply don’t include things that we take for granted – carpets, rugs, curtains and even all that stuff in the attic we don’t use.

But the consequences of not taking out enough cover can be dire – so don’t get caught out – read our simples guide to underinsurance instead, and give yourself a heads up.

Are my belongings covered outside of home?

Whether your belongings are insured when they’re taken outside of the home really depends on what your policy says. They aren’t usually automatically covered and in most cases, you would need to add personal possessions cover.

Personal possessions cover offers protection against loss and damage to items that you would typically take with you when you leave the house. This includes items such as phones, watches, wallets/purses (but not usually the money within them) and jewellery. There’s usually a cap on item value so anything particularly expensive might need to be added individually to your policy as they could fall over the single article limit. Just make sure that your insurance provider knows that you intend to take them outside the home when you’re adding this cover.

How can I make sure I get my home insurance renewal right?

It’s a lot to think about but the main thing to consider, is whether the policy that’s up for renewal accurately reflects your home as it is right now. Be honest with yourself about whether anything’s increased in value and therefore likely to push up premiums – if it comes to making a claim, you’ll be grateful that you were. Similarly, don’t pay more than you have to by forgetting to take into account depreciation.

Your home insurance isn’t about finding the cheapest deal – it’s about finding the right deal. And if you’re stuck and really don’t know what you should be looking for, then take a look at our home insurance hub where we can help answer your questions.