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Why home insurance is essential?
An Englishman’s (or woman’s) home is his castle as the saying goes. And for time immemorial we’ve been trying to protect it. Thankfully today that protection comes in the form of insurance rather than building a moat! However, it can still feel like a major effort having to wade through the policies of numerous home insurance companies for hours on end. And which is why we’ve done it for you…
Burglary is by far the largest claim for home insurance but burst pipes aren’t far behind and, thanks to climate change, flooding is fast catching up. For the latter, the good news is that as a result of the government’s Flood Re initiative, home insurance is more affordable for those in flood-risk areas. But for those worried about the possibility of their home catching fire, the bad news is that electrical failures can result in more than 7000 houses being set alight every year.
On other matters, many people in the UK work from home these days – 1.5m in 2016 according to a TUC survey – and no doubt that figure has increased markedly since. This new freelancing phenomenon begs the question: do you need insurance for home working? We have this covered in our FAQ section below.
How to get the best cover?
Always shop around for the policy that suits your circumstances best (it won’t necessarily be the least expensive). It’s a good idea to change companies regularly – preferably annually – since there are no reduced premiums for loyalty (only no claims bonuses and which you transfer between providers). You’ll soon learn that the best insurance deals will always go to new customers.
If you do want to remain with the same insurance company, then haggle when it comes to renewing your policy. Compare online and you can find the best insurance at the most convenient time for you – meaning you’ll have all the time you need to get the right one.
Different types of home insurance
- Buildings Insurance
- Contents Insurance
- Tenants Insurance (for those who live in a rented property)
- Home emergency cover (burst pipes, leaking roof etc)
- Accidental damage insurance e.g. spilling red wine on a white sofa
- Legal expenses
- Personal possessions insurance (for items outside the home e.g. taking your laptop on holiday with you)
- Bicycle insurance
Tips on getting the best value home insurance
- Save money (up to 40 per cent) by getting building and contents insurance together
- Reduce the cost of home insurance by as much as 20% by refusing accidental damage cover
- An easy way of reducing monthly premiums is the increase how much you’re willing to pay an excess
- Paying it all up front in one go means you won’t be paying interest on monthly payments
- If you can’t afford to pay upfront in one go, you could consider getting a 0% interest balance transfer credit card to help
- Don’t be tempted to buy a cover for things you won’t need such as additional key insurance.
- After around five years you can save as much as 50% via a no-claims bonus
- Protect your no-claims bonus by not claiming on small incidents
- You’ll get a reduction if you’re part of a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme
- If possible, avoid living in an area with a high crime rate
- Get a security system with an NSI (National Security Inspectorate) rating, have multi-lock doors and ensure downstairs windows can lock too
- Quit smoking (companies will put a higher premium on smokers as there’s more chance of a house fire)
- Maintain your home so that it won’t be vulnerable to weather damage e.g. make sure there are no missing roof tiles, the guttering is intact, and your pipes insulated
- Don’t live with criminals (seriously, if you live with someone who has a criminal record then your premiums could rise) insurance.
What is the NSI?
It stands for the National Security Inspectorate. Some insurance companies will only accept home security systems that are NSI approved.
Is an attached garage classified as a ‘room’?
No but a conservatory is.
How do I know how much my contents are worth?
Take it one room at a time and calculate how much it would cost to replace the main items in it. Alternatively, use an online valuation calculator. Your goods may not be worth as much as you think – which has the benefit of bringing down the cost of your home.
What is subsidence and how do I know if my home has it?
This is when the foundations of a home begin to slide further into the ground, causing the house or apartment block to move.
Will my bike be covered if its stolen?
It depends on your particular policy i.e. some insurers will cover your bike up to a maximum amount. If you want extra cover for it when it’s at your workplace or other location, then you’ll pay extra.
What’s covered under ‘accidental damage’?
This could mean burning a hole in the carpet by knocking over an iron. You won’t find it in all insurance policies and it often excludes damage caused by pets.
Can I get insurance cover for a property that is currently unoccupied?
It depends how long it’s been unoccupied for. Most companies won’t insure a property that has been empty for longer than six weeks.
Can I get home insurance for a second property that I rent out for holiday lets?
You can’t get standard home insurance since the guests will vary and it may lie unoccupied for months at a time. You can probably get specialist insurance for holiday homes though.
So, I have to tell my home insurance company that I work from home a few days a week?
Definitely let them know – you may not be charged extra for it. If you don’t tell them, your insurance may be void. If you have clients visiting, you’ll have to consider public liability insurance. An Air B&B side-line would be considered a business since you have guests who pay.
As a student living in halls of residence at the university, is my property covered under my parent’s house insurance?
It’s unlikely, but it could be if your parents extend their coverage.