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Buildings insurance

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What is buildings insurance?

Buildings insurance covers the physical structure and permanent fixtures of your home, such as the:

  • Roof
  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Bathroom fittings
  • Ceilings

Garages, sheds and fences are usually covered and your policy should also cover the full rebuild of your home should disaster strike.

If you have a mortgage, buildings insurance tends to be compulsory as the lender usually insists you have a policy in place. If you’re renting your home, your landlord should have a policy to protect the building.

Buildings insurance doesn't cover any loss or damage to your home’s contents and all of your personal possessions. For that, you need contents insurance.

You can combine buildings and contents insurance into a single home insurance policy. This often works out cheaper than buying 2 separate policies.

What does buildings insurance cover?

Buildings insurance covers the cost of repairing damage caused by:

  • Flooding, fire and storms
  • Natural disasters
  • Subsidence and fallen trees
  • Vehicle collisions
  • Water damage caused by burst pipes
  • Vandalism

Buildings insurance also covers the cost of a partial or full rebuild of your home.

There are also some optional extras that you can include in your buildings insurance policy for an added fee, including:

Your policy should also provide you with temporary accommodation if you can't live in your home while repairs are being carried out.

Buildings insurance doesn’t cover the cost of ongoing maintenance for your home. Some insurers might reject your claims if you haven't carried out essential maintenance to the property.

The exact cover varies between providers so check what’s included when you get a buildings insurance quote.

Is buildings insurance a legal requirement?

Unlike something like car insurance, you're not legally obliged to buy buildings insurance.

But if you have a mortgage, your lender is likely to insist on it. Funds may not be released until the lender has evidence that it’s in place. This gives your lender the reassurance that if disaster strikes, you have the funds to make the necessary repairs.

Do I need buildings insurance?

If you own your own home it’s a good idea to have buildings insurance. Usually, mortgage lenders will require you to have buildings insurance when you take out a mortgage with them. Even if you own your home outright, you need to consider the impact a huge repair bill could have on your finances.

Rebuild costs can go into the hundreds of thousands of pounds. A building insurance policy helps cover that cost so you're not left without a home and money.

Who doesn't need buildings insurance?

Not everyone needs to arrange buildings insurance. You may not need a buildings insurance policy if you:

  • Rent your home, buildings insurance is your landlord’s responsibility
  • Own a flat and have a mortgage. You'll likely need buildings insurance. But this should be arranged for the building as a whole (not just your flat). Usually by the freeholder, or the leaseholders combined if they jointly hold the freehold. It’s important to check the arrangement with your flat to be sure.
  • Have paid off your mortgage But it’s a sensible investment that could spare you some expensive bills if disaster strikes.

When should I buy buildings insurance?

If you’re buying a property, you normally need to buy buildings insurance between the exchange of contracts and completion. Your lender might not release your mortgage funds without it. You should then renew your cover each year to stay protected.

You should also contact your buildings insurer if you build an extension. You might need to buy more cover, but it ensures you're properly covered during the building works and once it’s finished.

What should I consider when choosing buildings insurance?

Before buying a buildings insurance policy it’s important to check:

  • What’s included as standard
  • The amount of excess
  • How long you can leave your home unoccupied
  • Whether alternative accommodation is included
  • How much no-claims bonus (NCB) you have
  • What isn’t covered by your policy - known as exclusions

What’s included as standard usually includes damage by fire, floods, storms and subsidence. But accidental damage insurance is often an optional extra that comes at an added cost.

The amount of excess is an agreed amount of money you pay in the event of a claim. There’s often a compulsory excess set by the insurer. But you might be able to reduce the cost of your policy by agreeing to a higher voluntary excess. This can help you save money, but it’s important not to agree to more than you could afford.

How long you can leave your home unoccupied is something to take into consideration if you’re likely to be away for long periods of time. Many standard policies don’t cover your home if it’s left unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days.

Alternative accommodation is important if your home suffers serious damage by fire or flood. Be sure to check with your provider that this is provided if you’re concerned about damage to your home. There might be limits as to how much you can claim for alternative accommodation.

No-claims bonus (NCB) should build up if you don’t make a claim during the policy year. The longer your NCB is, the greater the discount you usually get when you buy or renew your policy.

What isn’t covered by your policy (exclusions) might include accidental damage to your home, poor workmanship and general wear and tear. You might also not be covered for damage caused by frost, insects, birds and other pests.

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How much should I insure my building for?

It’s important to insure your building for the amount that it would cost to rebuild it from scratch. This is different to the amount you might have paid for your home when you bought it, or what you could sell it for now.

The chances are you won’t know how to calculate the rebuild cost of your house by yourself. But don’t worry if you don’t know where to start.

When you get a buildings insurance quote, we work with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to calculate an estimated rebuild cost. This cost is based on the details you provide, using its Building Costs Information Service.

What factors make up my home’s rebuild value?

The calculator we use when you get a quote, provided by the Buildings Cost Information Service, considers many factors, including:

  • The age of your property
  • The building materials used
  • The location of your property
  • Subsidence risk
  • Flood risk
  • Whether or not the property is listed
  • The number of doors, windows and rooms

If your house has a rebuild value of over £500,000 - your home might be classed as 'high value'. This often happens with listed buildings which tend to require specific materials and specialist tradespeople for repairs. They're typically more expensive to insure.

It's worth talking with your insurer, as some offer high value home insurance policies.

You need to let us know if your property is at risk of flood, or has previously been flooded by an external source, such as a river, heavy rainfall or the sea.

Roughly 1 in 6 properties in England are at risk of flood damage. Plus, the number of people at risk is predicted to grow significantly over the next few decades.

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Compare buildings insurance quotes

How much does buildings insurance cost?

The average price of buildings insurance is:

£166.352

Prices will vary considerably depending on the type of home you want to insure. Insurance companies will consider various factors from the property’s location to its size and age. As a general rule, larger and listed properties will cost more to insure. So will those in areas where there is a higher risk of flooding.

2August 2021-August 2022 Confused.com data - top average premium excluding quotes with claims, incidents or accidental damage.

How do I get a cheaper buildings insurance quote?

There are ways to make sure you don’t spend more than you need on your buildings insurance:

  • Don’t over insure
  • Build up your no-claims bonus (NCB)
  • Explore different policy options
  • Pay annually, if you can
  • Shop around
  • Install smoke alarms

Don’t over insure. Make sure you give an accurate cost of rebuilding your property, or you might end up paying for more cover than you need.

Build up your no-claims bonus (NCB) to save money for future policies. If you’ve not made a claim in the last 5 years, you're usually rewarded with a discount from the insurer. The more years you go without claiming, the bigger the discount you usually get. This might make you think twice about making smaller claims that you could afford to repair yourself.

Explore different policy options to try and find a cheaper policy. If you’re a homeowner, it’s typically cheaper to opt for a combined policy covering both buildings and contents insurance from the same insurer.

Pay annually, if you can, rather than paying monthly installments. If you pay monthly, insurers can charge interest and admin fees on top.

Shop around to find a cheaper policy. Don’t just accept your renewal quote from your existing provider. Even if it's similar to last year's price, you might be able to get the same cover for less elsewhere.

Installing smoke alarms could also reduce the price of your insurance. Regardless of potentially saving you money, you should have smoke alarms fitted and regularly maintained in your home.

Different policies offer varying levels of cover. Pick the one that offers the right level of cover for your home. There’s no point getting the cheapest policy if you can’t claim on it when you need to. But equally, you shouldn’t pay for cover you don’t need.

What details do I need to get a buildings insurance quote?

To get a quote for buildings insurance you need to know:

  • The type of heating system installed in the home
  • The rebuild cost of your home, not the market value
  • The date you bought the property and the year it was built
  • Details of any previous claims

Need more help?

Can I get a buildings insurance policy if I don’t own the property?

No. Only the owner of a property can buy the buildings insurance. If you’re not the building owner but you’re worried about appropriate buildings insurance, you can check with the building’s proprietor or landlord to check this cover is in place.

If you’re a tenant, you might want to look at contents insurance to make sure your personal possessions are covered.

Can I get buildings insurance in a flood risk area?

Yes, you can protect your home against flooding even in a flood risk area. The government and insurers have an agreement which allows for affordable insurance even in flood risk areas. This scheme is called Flood Re.

Find out more about flood insurance.

Does buildings insurance cover renovations and extensions?

Your buildings insurance should cover your whole property. If you decide to have an extension or make major changes to your property it’s important to tell your insurer. This ensures you have the right amount of cover for your home.

Do I need building insurance if I rent a property?

No, if you rent your property you don’t need to take out buildings insurance. Your landlord should have this covered as the owner of the property.

Do I need buildings insurance?

If you have a mortgage, lenders will insist you have buildings insurance. However, as the cost of repairs can be very expensive it’s recommended for all property owners, including landlords.

Do I need buildings insurance on my flat?

If you own a freehold flat it’s your responsibility to buy buildings insurance. However, if you own a leasehold flat, the building should be covered by your landlord. Take a look at flat insurance for more information.

Do I have to get my buildings insurance through my mortgage provider?

No. Although your mortgage lender requires you to have buildings insurance, you don't have to buy it from your mortgage provider. That's unless it's a specific requirement of your mortgage contract.

Lenders often offer policies from their own insurers. They're usually the only insurer offering you buildings cover when you’re arranging your mortgage. So there’s less need for them to competitively price your insurance policy.

You can often save money by shopping around and comparing quotes from a number of insurers. That's where we can help.

How do I find out when my home was built?

You should be able to find out the age of your property on the title register or title deeds that prove you own your property. Your conveyancer should have sent this to you when you bought the property.

What documents do I need to get a buildings insurance quote?

There are no specific documents you need to buy buildings insurance. But it’s helpful to be up to speed with the basic facts about your property, for example how old it is and what it's made of.

What is home emergency cover?

Home emergency cover is an optional extra that covers you for unexpected situations like boiler breakdown or leaks from a burst pipe. It usually offers homeowners access to a 24-hour emergency helpline. If you need emergency assistance from a tradesperson, the call-out costs, labour and repair costs are covered.

What is the difference between buildings and contents insurance?

Buildings insurance covers the physical structure of your property. Contents insurance, on the other hand, protects the things in it. This includes your TV, washing machine, jewellery and family heirlooms, and more. You can buy them separately or combined in a single policy.

Will building insurance cover subsidence?

Most buildings insurance policies cover for any damage caused by landslip, subsidence or heave to your property. It generally covers repairs and rebuild costs. In the event of a claim you can expect to pay anywhere between £500 and £1,000 excess for subsidence-related repairs.

Will buildings insurance cover rising damp?

Typically, insurers don’t cover for gradual damage caused by damp. If you have signs of damp in your home it’s best to get them checked by a professional. Our guide can help you to spot the common signs of damp.
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What our home insurance expert says:

Most mortgage providers insist you have buildings cover in place. But even if you own your property outright, buildings insurance is still a no-brainer. This is because structural repairs to your home can be pricey, especially if any damage caused requires a full re-build of the property. Buildings insurance offers you peace of mind that if something does happen, you’re not left out of pocket.
Jessica Willock home insurance expert signature

Jessica Willock

Home insurance product manager