What is home insurance?

Home insurance (or house insurance) is designed to financially protect your home and belongings. For example, if your home is damaged or destroyed in a fire, having the right insurance could mean the insurance provider will pay to replace your belongings and repair or rebuild your home. 

Home insurance consists of buildings insurance and contents insurance, which can be bought separately or together from the same provider.

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We compare prices from 41 trusted providers[2], including:

[2] Correct as of March, 2022.

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Who needs home insurance?

Neither buildings insurance nor contents insurance are a legal requirement. But by having both, you could have financial protection for your property and belongings in case something unexpected happens. Those who might need home insurance include:


If you own your own home, you’re responsible for sorting out any damage caused to the building and your belongings inside it. If you have a mortgage, your mortgage provider might insist that you have buildings insurance in place for the length of your loan. You can buy this insurance from any provider, not just your mortgage provider. If you’re lucky enough to own a second home, you’ll probably want to insure that too.


If you’re a tenant renting your home, you’ll only be responsible for protecting your personal belongings. The building itself is usually the responsibility of your landlord.

Find out more about rental contents insurance


Landlords are responsible for insuring the building they own and rent out. If you let a furnished property, you can also protect your belongings against damage or theft through a landlord policy.

Find out more about landlord insurance


If you’re a student living in halls of residence or shared accommodation, you may need protection for your personal possessions, like laptops and gadgets. You might already be covered by your parents’ home insurance policy, but you can’t assume this is the case. Ask your parents to check whether you’re covered by their policy.

Find out more about student contents insurance

Holiday homeowners

If you have a holiday home, you might need to take out specialist cover. You can compare holiday home insurance with us, but you’ll need to specify how many days a year the property will be empty. It can be more expensive than regular home insurance but will give you the protection you need.

Find out more about holiday home insurance

What type of home insurance do I need?

There are two types of cover available – buildings insurance and contents insurance. You can buy these separately or combine them into one home insurance policy from the same provider.

Buildings insurance

This could cover the cost of repairing damage to the structure of the property, including the roof and walls, along with any permanent fixtures and fittings, like windows or kitchen units.
Homeowners and landlords will need this type of insurance.

Find out more about buildings insurance

Contents insurance

This could cover the possessions inside your home against damage or theft. It typically protects furniture, home appliances and clothes (carpets are usually included too). It can also cover high-value items separately, including jewellery, computer equipment and bicycles.
Anyone with belongings they want to protect should consider this type of insurance.

Find out more about contents insurance

Combined cover

You can get both buildings and contents insurance under one policy from the same provider. This can make it more convenient if you need to make a claim. Combined insurance can often work out cheaper than taking out separate policies, although you should always compare quotes to make sure it’s the right option for you.

Why use Compare the Market?

We search home insurance from 64 leading provider products [2]

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Save up to £153 by switching [1]

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[2] Correct as of March, 2022.
[1] Based on online independent research by Consumer Intelligence during March, 2022. 51% of customers could achieve this saving on their Buildings and Contents insurance through Compare the Market.

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How much does home insurance cost? 

Buildings insurance could cost from £118 per year [3]

Contents insurance could cost from £58 per year [4]

Buildings and contents insurance could cost from £152 per year [5]

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 and your postcode, alongside other factors. With contents insurance, the value of your possessions and where you live are the main considerations. In both cases, whether you’ve made claims in the past will also be taken into account.

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[3] 51% of people could achieve a quote of £117.95 per year for their buildings home insurance based on Compare the Market data in March, 2022.
[4] 51% of people could achieve a quote of £57.06 per year for their contents home insurance based on Compare the Market data in March, 2022.
[5] 51% of people could achieve a quote of £151.96 per year for their buildings and contents home insurance based on Compare the Market data in March, 2022.

How can I get cheaper home insurance?

There’s a few simple steps you can take to try to reduce the cost of your home insurance:

1. Shop around

Every time your contents and/or buildings insurance policy comes up for renewal, run a new quote at Compare the Market. You may find a provider that can offer you a cheaper policy than your current provider, but with the same level of cover.

2. Consider a combined policy

If you need contents and buildings insurance, you might pay less if you buy both from the same provider.

3. Boost security

Using high-quality locks on your doors and windows, and installing a burglar alarm and smoke alarm, could make your home insurance cheaper.

4. Avoid instalments

If you can afford it, pay your premium upfront in one go. If you opt to pay in monthly instalments, you might be charged interest on top.

5. Increase the excess

If you’re willing to raise the amount you contribute towards a claim – the excess – you’ll usually pay a lower premium. But don’t opt to pay more excess than you can afford, should you need to claim.

6. Build up a no-claims discount

If you don’t make a claim on your home insurance, you could be rewarded with a discount on your next premium. Generally speaking, the longer you go without claiming, the more you can save. And you’re likely to be able to carry over the discount if you switch to another insurance provider, so make sure you include this when you get a quote.

What factors affect the cost of home insurance?

The general rule of thumb is that the greater the risk of damage or loss involving your home, the higher your premiums are likely to be. Many things can affect those risks and how much you’ll pay, including:

Property size

The rebuild costs of a larger property are likely to be higher than for a smaller home.

Property location

Crime rates, area affluence and flood risk can all affect the cost of your insurance.

Property age

Older homes often have features or construction materials that are expensive to replace, as well as outdated plumbing and electrical systems.

Home security

Having a burglar alarm, high-quality door and window locks and smoke detectors make you less risky in the eyes of insurance providers. Find out more about home security.

Building materials and roof type

Properties built from non-typical materials might be considered non-standard homes and can sometimes be more expensive to insure. A flat roof or a thatched roof can also be considered more of a risk for insurance.

Value of your possessions

The more valuable the items you want to cover, the more you’ll have to pay.

Policy add-ons

Cover for accidents and emergencies won’t usually be included as standard so will cost you extra if you want to add to your policy.

Claims history

If you haven’t made any recent claims, you’ll often be rewarded with a no claims discount.

Author image Kate Hughes

What our expert says...

“We all want to keep a lid on costs right now, but scrimping on home insurance could be a false economy if you need to claim. Instead, be sure about what aspects of your home you’re responsible for and secure a policy based on that as a minimum. Landlords and holiday-home owners can focus on buildings cover, while renters should look at covering their possessions. Make sure you adequately value those possessions though, as most of us fail to appreciate how much we’d have to fork out to replace our stuff.”

- Kate Hughes, Insurance expert

What does home insurance cover?

Your exact level of cover will depend on the provider and type of policy you choose. But most home insurance policies will generally offer similar types of protection and come with common exclusions.

What’s typically covered?

  • fire damage 
  • flooding and storm damage
  • burst pipes 
  • fallen trees, lampposts and satellite dishes
  • subsidence
  • vandalism and theft

What’s typically not covered?

  • general wear and tear
  • routine maintenance 
  • damage caused by negligence
  • storm damage to fences 
  • pest infestations 

What home insurance add-ons are available?

By paying a bit more, you can add optional extras to your policy to give you even more protection. You’ll want to keep your policy affordable though, so think carefully about what you need. Add-ons include:

Home emergency cover

Provides immediate help in an emergency situation if there’s a risk of further damage to the property or a risk to family members’ health and safety.  For example, a broken boiler in the winter or a leaking pipe.

Accidental damage cover

This could cover mishaps caused by you or your family that result in unforeseen damage. For example, spilling red wine on the carpet or putting your foot through the ceiling from the attic. If you have a cat or dog, you might also want to think about getting accidental damage pet insurance.

Personal possessions

This offers cover for items you carry outside the home, such as mobile phones, laptops and other gadgets, if they get lost or are stolen.

Legal expenses 

This will typically cover your legal costs and expenses if you get into a legal dispute with a tradesman or neighbours, or if someone is hurt in your home. It’s sometimes included as standard on home insurance policies.

Alternative accommodation

This is usually included as standard, but in some cases you may have to add it to your policy. It could cover you if your property becomes uninhabitable due to flooding, fire, subsidence or storm damage. Your insurance provider will pay for temporary accommodation so you have a roof over your head in an emergency.

What do I need to get a quote?

When you start a home insurance quote with us, it’s a good idea to have some basic information about your property, including:

  • Your current home insurance policy documents
  • Details about your property
  • The rebuild value of your home
  • The level of cover you need

We’ll ask you questions to make sure we have all the information we need, including your personal details, to provide you with a list of suitable quotes.

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What other types of home insurance are available?

A standard home insurance policy may not be right for everyone. Depending on your circumstances, you might need to consider these types of specialist home insurance:

Listed buildings insurance

This is for people who live in a building of special historical or architectural importance. Listed buildings can be expensive to repair because they’re usually made with less common materials and may need the expertise of specialist tradespeople.

Unoccupied property insurance

You might need this if you’ve inherited a house, you’re taking an extended business trip or you’re moving out while renovating. Most providers won’t insure properties that are left unoccupied for more than 30-60 days at a time.

Non-standard home insurance

This can cover any home that doesn’t conform to regular standards. For example, if you’ve built your home from scratch or you’ve bought a house in the countryside with a thatched roof. You might also need non-standard insurance if you or someone in your household have a criminal conviction.

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Frequently asked questions

How might coronavirus affect my home insurance?

If you’re continuing to work from home because of the pandemic, this shouldn’t affect your home insurance if you’re just doing clerical or admin work. But you will have to let your insurance provider know if you use your home to meet clients, sell goods or provide services, like personal training, hairdressing or dog grooming. 

Find out more about the impact of coronavirus.

What’s the difference between buildings and contents insurance?

Buildings insurance could cover the cost of repairing any damage to the structure of your property. This includes the roof, walls and floors as well as permanent fittings and fixtures, including windows or fitted kitchens. Contents cover could protect against the cost of replacing or repairing damaged, destroyed or stolen items inside your home, like your furniture, jewellery and clothes.

What is included in my home insurance cover?

Items you may be able to claim for if they’re damaged or stolen include:

  • Furniture (chairs, tables, sofas and beds)
  • Gadgets (mobile phones, laptops and games consoles)
  • Appliances (washing machines, kettles and microwaves)
  • Valuables (watches, rings and antiques below the single-item limit)
  • Windows, doors and locks damaged by theft or vandalism

Can I change my home insurance excess?

Excess is the amount you pay towards a claim.  

  • With compulsory excess, your insurance provider sets the amount and you can’t change it. 
  • With voluntary excess, you can change the amount. By raising your voluntary excess, your premiums are likely to be cheaper. But don’t set it too high – you want to make sure you can afford to pay both the compulsory and voluntary excess if you need to make a claim. 

Does my credit score affect home insurance?

Having a poor credit score may affect the cost of home insurance. But you’re still likely to be able to find an insurance provider with a policy and price that suits you. 

Are valuables only protected inside the home?

For your valuables to be protected outside your home, you’ll need personal possessions cover. Some insurance providers include it as standard with contents insurance, but others don’t. 

If you do have personal possessions cover, there may be restrictions on what items you’ll be covered for outside the home. You’ll also need to add any items worth more than the policy’s single item limit – typically around £1,500 – to your quote individually, to make sure they’re covered while you’re out and about. 

When would I need home insurance add-ons?

If you think your standard policy doesn’t give you enough cover in specific areas, you might want to add it on. For example, adding accidental damage will typically cover things like red wine spilled on a sofa. Adding cover for personal possessions outside the home could cover items like your mobile phone when you’re out and about. Remember, adding extras will add to the cost of your insurance policy.

What kind of door locks do I have?

Some home insurance providers need to know which types of door lock you have, because some are considered more secure than others. 

  • Five-lever mortice locks are often found on wooden front doors and need a key to lock and open them.
  • Multi-point locking systems are commonly found on uPVC doors. If you need to lift up the handle to lock the door, you probably have one of these.
  • Night latches are mounted on the surface of a door, so aren’t as secure as other types of lock. They automatically lock the door when it closes.  

How much home insurance cover do I need?

You’ll need enough buildings insurance to cover the amount it would cost to rebuild your property from scratch if it was destroyed.

The best way to work out how much home contents insurance you need is to make a list of all your possessions, then add up their value. When you get a quote with us, you can use our calculator to help you add up the value of your contents, room by room.

Find out more about how to estimate the value of your home contents 

Can I get home insurance during building works?

Yes, but you’ll need to let your home insurance provider know that work is being carried out.  

It’s likely you’ll have to pay more for your insurance during the construction work and there may be restrictions placed on your cover. You might also pay more for your insurance after the work is complete if your home improvements add to the value of your home. 

If you’re carrying out large-scale renovations to your home, you might need specialist insurance to cover you during the work. 

Are leaks covered by home insurance?

Most buildings insurance policies will cover you for burst pipes and water leaks as standard. This is usually classed as an ‘escape of water’, whether it’s caused by burst pipes, blocked drains or a leaky washing machine. 

If you make a claim for an escape of water, you might find you have to pay a higher compulsory excess. That’s the fixed amount you have to contribute towards the claim. Check your policy documents for details. 

What home insurance do I need if I’m renting?

If you’re a renting a property, you’ll only need to consider taking out tenants’ insurance. This is a type of contents policy that covers your personal belongings. It’s usually your landlord’s responsibility to have buildings cover in place.

Can I get home insurance if I live 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 was set up to ensure people in high flood-risk areas can still get cover for their homes at affordable prices. And you can still get a quote with us if you live in a flood-risk area.

What home insurance do I need if I live in a listed building?

A building can be listed if it has special architectural features or is of historical interest. If you own a listed building, you may need to take out specialist listed buildings insurance as many providers won’t cover this type of property on a standard policy. That’s because listed properties can be expensive to repair, often needing expert craftmanship, and may require materials that are hard to get hold of.

What home insurance do I need if I live in a non-standard property?

If you live in an unusual property, like a prefab home or a cottage with a thatched roof, it usually won’t be covered by a standard home insurance policy. You’ll need to take out specialist non-standard home insurance, which protects homes built with non-typical construction materials.

How do I estimate the rebuild cost of my home?

Your home insurance needs to cover the cost of rebuilding your home, not its market value. We have a calculator to help you work out the rebuild cost when you get a quote with us. You can also find the rebuild cost of your property in your home survey or by using the rebuild calculator on the Building Cost Information Service website.

Can I get home insurance if my home has subsidence?

Your home insurance policy should cover the cost of repairing damage to your house caused by subsidence, but make sure to check this. Also, most insurance providers apply a higher compulsory excess for damage caused by subsidence. If you make a claim for subsidence, or if your home has a history of it, you may find you have to pay a higher premium.

Can I insure an unoccupied property?

Standard home insurance policies typically cover properties that are left unoccupied for up to 30 days or, in some cases, 60 days. If you’re planning to leave your home empty for longer than that – for instance if you’re off travelling around the world or you’re unable to live in your property because of renovation work – you’ll need to take out unoccupied home insurance. This can cover you for up to 12 months.