There are 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 are 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.
What is flat insurance?
Flat insurance offers the same type of cover as standard home insurance.
There are two types of flat insurance cover:
- Buildings insurance – covers the building structure itself, including permanent kitchen and bathroom fixtures and fittings.
- Contents insurance – covers the cost of repairing or replacing personal belongings in your flat if they’re damaged, destroyed or stolen.
Whether you need buildings insurance, contents insurance or both depends on whether you own or rent the flat.
Did you know?
Around 23.2% of properties – 6.3 million in England and Wales – are flats or maisonettes, according to council tax statistics for March 2022. London has a higher proportion of flats than anywhere else, with 56% of properties being flats or maisonettes.
Building insurance for flats
Buildings insurance covers the structure of your home – the floors, walls, roof and so on, together with fixtures and fittings, such as bathroom suites and fitted kitchens.
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 own the freehold or part of the freehold, then you’ll need to arrange buildings insurance – either on your own or with those who own the other shares of the freehold.
In all cases, it’s important to check if your policy covers:
- Communal areas – for example, stairwells, landings and communal gardens
- If you’re a leaseholder, it’s very likely that the freeholder will be responsible for arranging buildings insurance. To be sure, you will need to ask your landlord for a copy of the insurance policy or ask your solicitor to do this for you. However, you may need to pay your share of the premium through the service charge.
Read more about leasehold buildings insurance.
Contents insurance for flats
Contents insurance covers 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.
Did you know?
There are around 4.86 million leasehold homes in England. Of these, 71% (3.44 million) are flats.
Insurance 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’ll need to think about contents insurance for the possessions you keep in your home. You might also want to consider standalone tenant's liability insurance, if it isn’t included in your contents policy. This is designed for tenants and offers you protection if you accidentally damage your landlord’s fixtures, fittings or furniture.
See more in our guide what insurance do I need if I rent?
Contents insurance for student flats
If you’re a student living away from home you may already have cover for your belongings under your parents’ home insurance policy.
And if you’re staying in halls of residence, your university might already include contents insurance in your accommodation fees.
Either way, check before you consider buying new insurance as you don’t want to end up paying for it twice.
Find out more about student contents insurance.
Flat insurance for landlords
If you rent out just one flat or a whole block of flats, you’ll need to take out specialist landlord insurance.
This type of insurance includes cover for the building structure and contents you own – for example, if you let out a furnished flat. It could also offer protection for loss of rental income, void periods between tenants, and legal expenses.
Find out more about landlord insurance for houses and flats.
What kind of add-ons can I get with the insurance of my flat?
For an extra cost, you can add additional cover to your home insurance policy for:
- 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 might 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.
- Home emergency, which offers help in emergency situations like a broken boiler. If you’re renting, your landlord may have this cover.
Compare home insurance for flats
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does flat insurance cost?
The cost of home insurance for your flat depends on a number of factors, including:
- The value of your possessions
- The rebuild value of your home (if you need buildings insurance)
- Your postcode
- Your claims history.
But don’t just base your decision on price alone – the cheapest flat insurance policy might not always be the best one for you. Think carefully about the type and level of cover you’ll need to suit your situation.
Does insurance cost more for high-rise flats?
After the Grenfell tragedy in 2017, insurance for high-rises and other multi-occupancy buildings increased dramatically.
But thanks to a review by the Financial Conduct Authority in 2022, new recommendations were introduced to protect leaseholders from soaring prices. These included a risk-sharing pool to spread the costs of covering higher-risk blocks clad in combustible materials between buildings insurance providers.
By spreading these costs, insurance providers should be able to offer more affordable and fairer premiums to leaseholders of multiple occupancy buildings.
Can I get flat insurance if I live above a shop?
If you’re only renting the flat, you should be able to get contents insurance easily enough. But it may cost a bit more as commercial properties are considered a higher security risk – or fire risk, if it’s a restaurant or takeaway. Living above them means your flat could be at risk too.
Insurance might be a bit more complicated if you own the business premises you live above. You may need to take out separate policies: commercial property insurance for your shop and home insurance for your flat.
How can I get cheaper flat insurance?
Here are ways to help cut the cost of your flat insurance:
- Pay upfront annually – you’ll avoid interest charges, which are usually added if you pay in monthly instalments.
- Increase your excess – a higher excess usually means you’ll pay a lower premium but make sure you can afford to pay your share if you make a claim.
- Build up your no-claims bonus – just like car insurance, you can earn a discount on every claim-free year – up to a limit set by the provider.
- Don’t auto-renew – when your policy is due to end, shop around for a cheaper deal. You may also find you get a cheaper deal if you get quotes around 21-28 days before your renewal date rather than right on the deadline.
- Only buy extra cover if you need it – add-ons could bump up the price of your premium.
Find out more about saving money on your home insurance.
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.
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.