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Home insurance: 25 things to check

Red front doorPrice is not the only factor when buying home insurance. There are many areas where specific levels of cover might be important to you.

Here are 25 areas you should consider carefully when choosing your home insurance policy.

Most people overestimate the rebuild cost of their homes but a lot of the value of a home is in the land itself, not the bricks and mortar.

When you enter your details in Confused.com's home insurance comparison service it will estimate the rebuild cost.

Generally you should expect this to be a good deal lower than today's market value of your property.

Protecting your possessions

Work out how much home contents insurance you need, so you're not left short if anything happens.

For example, you might estimate your possessions are worth £30,000 but the total is really £40,000.

But if you then make a claim for £4,000 of stolen possessions - a tenth of the sum you should be insured for - the insurer is entitled to pay just £3,000 - a tenth of the sum you were actually insured for.

This means you're £1,000 out of pocket as you underestimated the amount of content cover you needed.

The best way to estimate the value of your contents is to do an inventory, room by room. Watch our video guide to valuing your home contents.

Accidental damage

You are normally covered for accidental damage to buildings under a basic policy if someone crashed a car into your home, or if you damaged the cables, drains and pipes, as well as for glass and bathroom fittings.

If that's enough buildings protection from accidents, you shouldn't need to pay the high extra cost of additional cover.

You are usually covered under basic policies for accidental damage to contents too, including home entertainment equipment, computers, mirrors and glass.

Watch the exclusions though as damage caused while cleaning, maintaining or repairing is usually excluded.

Excess

A higher excess can knock pounds off your insurance. This is useful if you do not need to claim for low amounts, as doing so is likely to increase the cost of your insurance in future.

However, if you cannot afford to pay a high excess in the event of needing to make a claim, make sure you choose an excess within your budget.

Escape of water is a common claim, but the excess is not always the same as in the main section of your policy. So double check and ensure your excess for this is affordable.

Valuable items

Valuable items might include watches, cameras, music players, jewellery, sports equipment, and more. Make sure the valuable items cover is high enough to cover it all.

Ensure that the single-item limit will cover your most expensive possession.

Ensure you include musical instruments when setting your valuable items cover. You might need a special valuation for very expensive instruments.

Not all policies are equal, so if you would struggle to handle the loss of money and credit cards, and mobile phones in the home, ensure your policy has a high enough limit.

Away from home cover

If you would struggle to replace the personal possessions you take with you away from home, you could opt to cover them.

If you travel for long periods, ensure that the possessions cover away from home lasts long enough.

Rather than your children getting their own student cover, some insurers let you add their possessions to your own policy, but compare which is cheapest.

Keys, gardens and frozen food

Check that the limit is high enough for loss of keys.

Some policies have no maximum for contents in outbuildings and garages other than your overall contents limit, but others set much smaller limits.

Garden cover is usually as contents in outbuildings, above.

Ensure there is enough frozen food cover if you store large amounts that you couldn't easily afford to replace.

New-for-old

Most policies should increase contents cover for weddings, due to presents in the home. Ensure the cover is high enough.

Ensure your business equipment cover is high enough, if you need it.

Some insurance policies provide a removal of squatters service.

Insurers tend to offer new-for-old cover. To benefit from it, ensure that your total contents limit reflects the cost of getting the new items.

Alternative accommodation

Insurers should offer alternative accommodation if your building becomes uninhabitable after damage. Make sure the limit is high enough.

If you, or items in your home, injure someone, it could prevent them earning hundreds of thousands of pounds over their lives.

So ensure your public liability insurance and liability insurance covering domestic employees is adequate.

If you frequently have guests staying, check your policy covers visitors' belongings.

Cover for bikes varies considerably. Check you have enough when the bikes are at home and away from home.




Neil Faulkner

Neil Faulkner

Neil Faulkner waded his way through a mountain of claims as a paralegal before moving on to be an insurance consultant and claims manager. He is a long-term investor, and one-time property owner and landlord. He writes about property, investing, insurance, consumer issues, and helping people get out of debt misery.

View more from Neil



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