Home or Contents Insurance
Home Insurance costs have continued to rise recently and millions of Britons are now overpaying. The costs that people are paying can vary substantially so at ismybillfair.com we are working to build a Priceometer so you can compare the cost of your Policy with people like you. We plan on having this available for you very soon.
In the meantime, we have partnered with Industry leading price comparison site to show you the very best Home Insurance deals available in the market today.
What do you need to know about home insurance?
The first thing to understand is that there are three types of house insurance policies:
1. Buildings insurance – This protects the actual building structure, its fixtures and fittings.
2. Contents insurance – This protects your belongings within the property. E.g. Jewellery, Clothing, Electrical goods, Carpets and furnishings.
3. Combined building and contents cover – You guessed it, this protects both.
So, if you don’t own the building itself, if you are only renting or leasing then you don’t need buildings insurance because the actual owner is responsible for that. Insurance for your belongings is always your responsibility and should be considered by everyone.
What is and isn’t usually protected?
Through contents insurance you are usually protected against damage and theft to possessions that are in your home, garage and shed. Through buildings insurance you are usually protected against damage to the structure of the building itself and the permanent fixtures and fittings, like windows, doors and bathroom fittings. What sort of damage, you may ask…well you are usually covered for
- Damage caused by natural events such as storms, floods, earthquakes, fire, and lightning.
- Damage caused by explosions, theft, or by people (through riots or vandalism).
- Damage from accidents e.g. caused by a falling tree, an accident with a motor vehicles or water damage from burst pipes.
- Damage caused by subsidence under your property
- If you are unlucky enough to suffer from a fire or a flood and you can’t stay in your home any more then you will be happy to hear that most policies will also cover the cost of a hotel or B&B. You are usually ok for replacement keys and locks if they are damaged, spoiled food if your freezer breaks down or you lose power to it and the replacement of any cash that is stolen from your home. On both topics there are limits on how much you can claim. So if you have a freezer full of caviar piles of £50 notes under a floorboard then its best to check your policy carefully.
All policies give you legal liability protection meaning that as part of the contents policy, your insurer should cover you and your legal costs if someone visiting your home gets injured and it's decided that it was your fault. A buildings policy will do the same if the passer-by or visitor is injured by the structure or if it damages a neighbour's property. E.g. if a roof tile falls on a visitor’s head.
Just as important is knowing what isn’t going to be covered.
Obviously the first thing to do is read the small print as every policy will vary slightly. Some rules of thumb do exist though, so for example if your house is damaged as a result of terrorism, then you are very unlikely to be covered.
If you aren’t in your home for a period of time then the small print may contain clauses that restrict your cover. For example, some clauses state that if you aren’t in the property for more than 30 days in a row then you aren’t covered for something like a pipe bursting (so probably a good idea to turn off the water at the mains). Lastly the coverage may only extend to high value items if they are named or kept in a certain way. E.g. listing specific items with a value over £1000 or ensuring that your ridiculously expensive bike is locked with a high-quality bike lock.
Every so often most people have probably accidentally smashed a window, had a pet or child destroy a sofa or dropped something valuable. Most standard policies usually cover you for limited accidental damage like this. Some contents like electrical goods should also be covered for accidental damage. The bad news for clumsy people is that if you spill paint on your carpet, it's unlikely to be covered unless you take out some extra cover for an additional cost. As for the rest, it’s obvious but you should read your terms and conditions carefully to see what you are and aren't covered for.
If you have decided that you need both building and contents insurance, then there are a couple of benefits of choosing combined insurance. Firstly, its likely to be cheaper but secondly it will probably be a lot easier if you ever make a claim for damage to both building and contents. This is because there won’t be a need for any arguments between the insurers about who should cover which bit of the costs.
Will my policy cover my belongings away from the property?
Lots of people carry valuable mobile phones or ride a valuable bicycle and want to be sure that they are covered if they go missing or get pinched. Unfortunately, most policies don't cover your property if it is outside the home as standard, but you can usually extend the policy so that they do. This extended cover is called 'all risks' or 'personal possessions' cover and is often available to add to your contents policy. Want to know what it covers? Well a useful rule of thumb is that if it's designed to be taken out of the home, it'll be covered.
We keep saying it but check your policy carefully because there may be limits to the cover and the items might have to be individually named in your policy documents. In some cases, such as covering a cherished bike or golf clubs worth £1,000 or more, you should look in to specialist bicycle insurance. If you are a tech fiend and carry thousands of pounds of gadgets with you then you can also find specialist gadget insurance.
I'm going away for a bit, am I still covered?
Almost all insurers restrict the number of days you are allowed to leave your home unoccupied in a year, usually its 30 days at a time. Leaving it empty for long periods makes you much more likely to suffer a burglary. Its also likely that the cost of any claims will be higher because damage might not be discovered for weeks. E.g. if a window is broken that will cost a certain amount to fix. But if that window is broken for several weeks then more problems can be caused because water or burglars can gain access easily.
Even more important to note is that during the winter the number of days you can leave your home empty for can be reduced to as low as five days unless you keep the heating on or drain the water out of your heating system. The reason for this is to stop burst pipes and the water damage they cause.
For example, some insurers have a rule that if you go away for five days or more between November and March then you are only covered fully if you keep your home heated to 12°C, or turn off your water supply at the mains and drain the heating system.
What about High Value possessions?
Your insurer will ask you for an estimated value of all the contents in your home. However the really expensive items that cost over £1000 have to be separately listed on most policies. Expensive property such as gadgets, jewellery or even tools may not be covered if they were bought after your policy was taken out and you may need to remember to add hefty new purchases on to your policy as you buy them.
Always remember to stuff receipts for valuable items like jewellery technology in a safe place. Insurers will usually want to see proof that you owned it before shelling out, especially if it was expensive. Luckily a receipt, photograph, insurance valuation or even a copy of your bank statement will do the job.
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