Your guide to buying home insurance

Everything you need to know about home cover


How does home insurance work?

Home insurance is designed to cover the cost of damages or loss caused by a range of events. For example, natural disasters, burglaries, accidents and more.

When you take out a policy, you can choose to get cover for your buildings, contents or both. Like the name suggests, buildings insurance covers your bricks and mortar as well as any outhouses, garages or sheds on the property. Contents insurance covers what’s inside your home, from your furniture to your appliances and clothes.

If you choose to get both, this will normally fall under one policy, but you can buy them separately if you prefer.

Is home insurance a legal requirement?

Unlike a car, you don’t legally have to insure your home. However, not having home insurance means you’ll need to foot the bill if something does happen to your home.

While home insurance costs vary depending on the level of cover you choose, paying out each year for insurance could be a lot less than paying for a problem that affects your home while you’re uninsured.

If you’re in the early stages of purchasing a property, it’s worth noting that your mortgage loan may not be approved unless you insure your home. Your mortgage provider will tell you if this is the case during your application. They may try to sell you insurance with them, however it’s up to you which insurance provider you choose.

What type of home insurance do I need?

For standard homes, you’ll have a variety of mainstream home insurance providers to choose from. The same goes for higher-value properties.

For other properties, your choice might be limited as insurers see your home as a higher risk.

This includes:

However, having a non-standard home doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a good deal or end up with a policy that isn’t right for your property.

There are brokers who will reach out to all the providers that specialise in insuring your type of property. For example, at Wesleyan Financial Services, we can help you find cover from a range of suitable providers.

How much cover do I need?

If you don’t take the time to work out the right level of cover for your property, you could end up over or underinsured. Being overinsured means you’ll be paying more than necessary, being underinsured means your insurance payouts might not be enough to cover full costs.

To help you get started, you should look to answer the following questions:

  • How much is my property worth? Think about all your buildings, including any outhouses or extensions. An estate agent can provide a valuation for you.
  • Do I want to cover everything? Decide whether you want to insure your buildings, contents, or both. If you want to include contents, you’ll need to work out the value.
  • Do I want to add extra features? Some providers offer extra cover at an additional cost to boost the protection provided by your policy. For example, home emergency assistance.
  • Is my property higher risk or classed as a non-standard home? If you answered yes, this could mean you’ll pay a higher price for your policy.

If you take out home insurance with a broker, they’ll help you answer these questions and more in your initial conversation, meaning you’ll be prepared to find the right protection for your home.

How do I calculate the rebuild cost of my home?

When you take out a home insurance policy, your insurance provider will ask you for an estimation of your property’s rebuild value.

Rebuild value is the amount it would cost to build your property today from scratch, labour and materials included.

If you underestimate the value, you could end up paying more when your cover falls short. And if you overestimate the value, you’ll pay more in your premiums. Either way, it could cost you more money in the long run.

To get a rough estimate of your rebuild value, you can use a free rebuilding calculator. Just bear in mind that this is an estimate, and specialist homes could cost more. If you recently bought your home, you should check your house deeds or mortgage valuation as it may contain an up-to-date rebuild cost.

How much excess should I choose?

Home insurance excess is how much you’ll have to pay if you make a claim. It’s taken as a deduction from your claim pay-out. For example, if you put in a claim for £1,000 and your excess is £200, you’ll get a pay-out of £800.

There will always be compulsory excess to pay, which is a set amount decided by your insurer.

You can also choose to increase your excess amount. This means you’ll pay more towards any claims, but the cost of your home insurance policy will likely be less as a result. In some cases, you can also claim your excess back through an excess protection policy.

How much excess you choose to pay will depend on whether you’re happier to pay higher premiums for a lower overall insurance cost or you’d rather pay less in premiums and hope you won’t need to make too many claims.

With a high excess, premiums will be lower, but it may mean some small claims aren’t worth making.

How to reduce home insurance costs

Cheaper isn’t always better, but there are ways to save on your overall home insurance costs without cutting on cover. For example, by looking for loyalty or member discounts and choosing how you pay for your policy.

We’ve detailed all our money saving tips in our guide to saving on your home insurance.

Using a broker for your home insurance

If you want to save some time and let someone do the hard work for you, you can use a broker.

A broker can advise you on the type of policy that’s best suited to your home, as well as recommending a level of cover that’s right for your needs. They’ll search the market on your behalf, presenting you with a range of policies to choose from.

They can help make sure you’re fully protected, which could save you money in the long run as buying an incorrect policy can be costly.

We can help you if you’re not sure which home insurance is right for you or you’d like to get a quote.

Key takeaways

There’s a lot to consider when insuring your home, which is why we’ve pulled out the key takeaways:

  • You should first decide whether you want buildings cover, contents cover or both.
  • Calculating your rebuild value and contents value will help you work out the level of cover that’s right for you.
  • You might need a specialist type of home insurance if your home is considered ‘non-standard’.
  • Choosing to pay additional excess could mean you pay less for your policy, but only if you don’t make lots of claims in one year.
  • There are ways to save money on your policy, for example, by paying for your policy in a single lump sum rather than through monthly payments.
  • Using a broker gives you access to a range of insurance providers, meaning you’re more likely to find the right deal for you.

Ready to get insured?

Home insurance

Insure your home with comprehensive cover for your buildings and contents. Ideal for houses worth up to £1,000,000 and belongings up to £75,000.

High-value home insurance

When standard home insurance isn’t enough for your property, get bespoke cover for your specialist home or high-value home worth more than £500,000.

Holiday home insurance

Leave your worries at the door with insurance for your home away from home. Protect your UK holiday home with cover for property repairs, alternative accommodation and more.