What is home insurance?

Home insurance (or house insurance) protects you from insured events that damage your home or your 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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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.

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 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.

The results will also show you optional extras you might want to consider, such as accidental damage insurance.

Start a quote

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:

Homeowners

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.

Renters

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

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

Students

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

Frequently asked questions

How can I make my home insurance cheaper?

There are 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 comes up for renewal, run a fresh 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 could help 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.

How high should I set my home insurance excess?

How high you set your home insurance excess depends on how much you can afford.

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, should 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 a standard feature with contents insurance, but others don’t.

If you do have personal possessions cover, restrictions could apply to what items you’ll be covered for outside the home. You’ll also need to add any valuable items worth more than £1,500 to your quote individually, to make sure they’re covered while you’re out and about.

What are home insurance add-ons?

Home insurance 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 – This covers mishaps caused by you or your family that result in unforeseen damage. For example, spilling wine on the carpet or putting your foot through the floor.
  • Personal possessions – This covers you for items you carry outside the home, if they get lost or stolen.
  • Legal expenses – If you had to make a civil claim, legal expenses would typically cover the legal costs and expenses. It’s sometimes included as standard on home insurance policies.

Do I need home insurance add-ons?

You may decide you need home insurance add-ons if you think your standard policy doesn’t give you enough cover in specific areas. For example, adding accidental damage to your policy would typically cover things like ink stains on furniture, or orange juice stains on the carpet.

What our expert says...

"I always say prevention is better than cure. Fitting an alarm can reduce the likelihood of someone breaking in and can help lower the cost of your premium."

Chris King, head of Home insurance at Compare the Market

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