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First-time buyer home insurance

Getting that first foot on the property ladder is a major financial commitment, so you’ll want to make sure your investment is properly protected. Here’s our guide to first-time buyer home insurance.

Getting that first foot on the property ladder is a major financial commitment, so you’ll want to make sure your investment is properly protected. Here’s our guide to first-time buyer home insurance.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Insurance comparison expert
Reviewed by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
15 FEBRUARY 2024
5 min read
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Home insurance for first-time buyers

Buying a home is expensive, and the cost of insurance may seem like an added extra you could do without. But just think about how much you’d have to pay out if your home was destroyed by a fire, your belongings were stolen or your property was damaged by a flood.

There are two types of cover to think about – buildings insurance and contents insurance. You can buy cover as two separate policies or you can combine them into a single policy.

Buying a flat

If the flat you’re buying is leasehold, the freeholder may have buildings insurance for the property. Ask your solicitor to check. If that’s the case, it’s only contents insurance you need to think about.

Top tip

If you’re never bought home insurance before, our home insurance glossary might help explain some of the unfamiliar terms.

What insurance do I need when buying a house?

If you’re buying a house or a freehold flat, you’ll probably want to consider both buildings and contents insurance. If you’re buying a leasehold flat, you may just need contents insurance.

Buildings insurance

Home insurance isn’t a legal requirement. But your mortgage provider will most likely insist you have adequate buildings insurance in place as a condition of their offer – they may even ask for evidence of it.  

Buildings insurance covers the structure of your home, including walls, doors and fitted kitchens and bathrooms. It can protect you against damage caused by: 

Buildings insurance may also cover gardens, garden walls and fences, garages, and sheds and outbuildings. Check your policy documents to see exactly what’s covered.

How much does buildings insurance cost for first-time buyers?

Buildings insurance is calculated on how much it would cost to rebuild your home if it’s destroyed beyond repair. For that reason, it’s important to make sure you have an accurate idea of the cost of rebuilding your home from scratch, rather than its market value.

Read our guide for more information on how to calculate the rebuild cost of your home.

We can also help you work out your house rebuild cost using the Building Cost Information Service calculator when you compare buildings insurance with us. 

How much you pay for buildings insurance can also depend on whether you live in an area prone to flooding.

51% of our customers were quoted less than £177 for their buildings home insurance in December 2023.

Contents insurance

Contents insurance covers the cost of repairing or replacing your home contents if they’re damaged, destroyed or stolen. 

Your home contents includes anything you’d take with you when you move. That includes furniture, clothes, jewellery, appliances, entertainment equipment and so on. In other words, your household belongings.

If you’re moving into your first place, you might be lucky enough to receive housewarming gifts. Don’t forget to make sure you include them when working out how much your contents are worth. 

See our guide to valuing your contents accurately.

How much does contents insurance cost for first-time buyers?

The cost of contents insurance will largely depend on the location of your new home and the total value of your possessions.

The cost may also be affected by the amount of voluntary excess you agree to pay towards a valid claim.

51% of our customers were quoted less than £66 for their home contents insurance in December 2023.

How much does combined buildings and contents cost for first-time buyers?

If you’re looking to save money on your home insurance, a combined policy from one insurance provider could work out cheaper – with less paperwork too.

51% of our customers were quoted less than £201 for their buildings and contents home insurance in December 2023.

Home insurance, like car insurance, allows you to build up a no-claims discount (NCD). First-time buyers may pay more if they have don’t have an NCD to help reduce their premium.

Where can I buy home insurance for first time buyers?

There’s no special home insurance for first-time buyers. But shopping around and comparing quotes is an ideal way to find a good deal on home insurance.

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What optional extras can I add to my home insurance?

Additional cover you can add to your policy for an extra cost includes:

  • Accidental damage – offers cover if you spill red wine on your cream carpet or break a window, for example.
  • Legal expenses – can cover legal costs of disputes relating to your property, for example, a boundary dispute.
  • Personal possessions – gives you cover for your belongings if you take them out and about with you. 
  • Home emergency cover – can cover the cost of emergency repairs and labour if you have a burst pipe, electrical failure or damage to your roof in a storm, for example.

When should I buy home insurance?

You should have your buildings insurance in place from the moment you exchange contracts on your new home. That’s because you become legally responsible for the property from this point, even though there could still be a while to go before you move in. 
 
And you might want to consider getting contents insurance before you move in, to cover your actual move. You may have to use a professional removals firm for the cover to be valid. Check the details of the policy.

When won’t first-time buyer home insurance protect you?

Home insurance is there to protect you against the unexpected. Typically, it doesn’t cover:

  • General wear and tear. Or damp and rot, for example, because you haven’t maintained the property
  • Negligence – for example: leaving a window open that allows a burglar access
  • Poor workmanship
  • Accidental damage – unless you’ve added this to your policy
  • Pet damage – if your dog or cat damages your belongings.

Problems caused by pest infestations generally aren’t covered either – although you may be able to get cover through a home emergency policy.

Most policies will also have a set number of days that your home can be unoccupied. This is typically 30 days, although some policies may have a higher limit. If you need to be away for longer, consider unoccupied home insurance.

Check the home insurance policy before you buy so you understand exactly what you are and aren’t covered for.

What other first-time buyer home insurance do I need?

Home buyers protection insurance

Some specialist providers offer this type of insurance, which can help you claim back costs if your home purchase falls through. It could cover the cost of surveys, conveyancing fees and mortgage fees.

Home buyers protection insurance can offer protection if you’re gazumped, the seller of the house you’ve offered on changes their mind, your survey uncovers necessary repair work or a chain falls apart.

You need to take out this kind of insurance as soon as possible after you decide to buy a particular property. Read the policy carefully so you understand what it does and doesn’t cover.

Please note, you can’t compare home buyers protection insurance with Compare the Market.

Home emergency cover

Home emergency cover could cover the cost of urgent repairs in your home because of a boiler or heating system breakdown, blocked drains, electrical faults and household security issues, such as a broken window. Some insurance providers offer extra cover for pest infestations or roof damage.

Cover for renovations

If you’re planning on making home improvements to your property, you’ll need to tell your home insurance provider before the work starts. They’ll want to assess whether there’s any extra risk to your home and its contents.

Other things to think about

If you have car insurance, make sure you tell the provider you’ve moved as your new address may affect your premium. This may apply to your pet insurance too.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need buildings insurance on a new build?

Yes, you’ll need buildings insurance on a new-build house. Although you might have a guarantee or warranty on your new home, neither offer the same cover as buildings insurance.

If you’re buying your new-build home with a mortgage, the mortgage provide is likely to insist you have buildings insurance in place.

What types of insurance paperwork are there?

The paperwork you’re sent when you buy insurance may include:

  • Key facts guide or summary of your insurance
  • Policy schedule
  • Important information about your policy
  • Product information
  • Terms and conditions
  • Provider contact details

You’ll usually have the option of getting your documents by post or email. Many insurance providers also offer secure online portals where you can access your paperwork online.

Why is insurance paperwork important?

Insurance paperwork is important because it sets out the rules for your policy and defines what you can claim for and what you can’t.

If you make a claim, you’ll need information from your paperwork, including your insurance provider contact number, policy number and details of how to make a claim.

What other documents do I need to keep for insurance purposes?

If you have high-risk items, it’s important to keep any original receipts as proof of ownership, in case you need to make a claim on your contents insurance.

It’s also a good idea to keep updated valuation certificates for expensive valuables, like jewellery, antiques and rare collectables.

You might also want to consider taking photos of valuable or important items, and keep them with your insurance paperwork.

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Anna McEntee - Insurance comparison expert

Anna’s all about delivering fantastic insurance products at a great price. Value is the most important thing for Anna, as she cuts through the jargon and finds what’s most important and worth your hard-earned money.

Learn more about Anna

Rebecca Goodman - Insurance expert

Rebecca Goodman is a freelance financial journalist who specialises in insurance, personal finance and consumer affairs. Rebecca regularly writes for national newspapers including The Independent and The Mail on Sunday on a wide-range of financial topics. She covers everything from money-saving tips and holiday advice to investigations into how energy efficient appliances can cut the cost of household bills and the impact donating money can have on those in need. Along with features in national papers, Rebecca also writes news stories for websites including Yourmoney.com and The Money Edit.

Learn more about Rebecca

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