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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 is usually compulsory as the lender will insist you’re covered. If you’re renting your home, your landlord should have a policy in place to protect the building.

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

You can combine buildings and contents insurance into one home insurance policy, which can often work out cheaper than taking out two 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

If your home needs fully or partially rebuilding, it will cover the cost of that too.

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 claims may also be rejected if essential maintenance hasn’t been carried out.

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, it's not a legal requirement to buy buildings insurance.

However, if you have a mortgage, your lender is likely to insist on it and it may not release funds until it has evidence that it’s in place. This gives your lender the reassurance that if disaster strikes, you’ll 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. Even if you own it outright and don’t have a mortgage lender, you need to consider the impact a huge repair bill would have on your finances if you didn't have buildings insurance in place.

Buildings insurance for landlords is a sensible investment too. This is because your tenants aren’t responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the building.

If you're a landlord, you may need a specialist landlord’s buildings insurance policy that is designed for rental properties to cover the extra risks involved.

Who doesn't need buildings insurance?

Not everyone needs to arrange buildings insurance. Here are a few examples of people who may not need a buildings insurance policy:

  • If you rent your home, buildings insurance is your landlord’s responsibility
  • If you own a flat and you have a mortgage your lender will still need you to have buildings insurance. However, this should be arranged for the building as a whole (not just your flat) 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.
  • If you’ve paid off your mortgage you don’t need to buy buildings insurance. However, it’s a sensible investment that could spare you some expensive bills if the worst does happen.

When should I buy buildings insurance?

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

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

What should I consider when choosing buildings insurance?

Before buying a policy it’s important to check:

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

What’s included as standard such as damage by fire, floods, storms and subsidence, which are usually covered. However, accidental damage insurance often needs to be bought as an add on.

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 may be able to reduce the price of your insurance by agreeing to an additional voluntary excess. This can be a good way to save money but it’s important not to agree 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 policies won’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. Make sure to check with your provider that this is provided if you’re concerned about damage to your home as there may be limits as to how much you can claim.

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’ll get when you buy or renew your policy.

What isn’t covered by your policy (exclusions) may include accidental damage to your home, poor workmanship and general wear and tear. You may 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 home for the amount that it would cost to rebuild from scratch. This is different to the amount you may have paid for your home when you bought it, or what you could sell if 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 RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) to calculate an estimated rebuild cost 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, will consider 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, making them more expensive to insure.

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

You’ll 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 the UK is at risk of flood damage, and 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:

£126.722

Prices will vary considerably depending on the type of home you want to insure. Insurance companies will take into account a huge range of factors from the property’s location through to its size and age. As a rule of thumb, larger and listed properties will cost more to insure, as will those in areas where there is a higher risk of flooding.

2February to April 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
  • 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, otherwise you’ll end up paying for more cover than you need.

No-claims bonus (NCB) is a great way of saving money for future policies. If you’ve not made a claim in the last 5 years, you’ll usually be rewarded with a discount from the insurer. The more years you go without claiming, the bigger the discount applied. This might make you think twice about making smaller claims which 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 if you 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, you may 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’ll 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 make 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, it’s 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 to make sure 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 will require you to have buildings insurance you don't have to buy it from your mortgage provider unless it's a specific requirement of your mortgage contract.

Lenders will often offer policies from their own insurers. This does mean that as they're usually the only insurer offering you buildings cover when you’re arranging your mortgage, 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 which prove you own your property. This should have been sent to you by your conveyancer when you bought the property.

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

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

What is home emergency cover?

Home emergency cover is an optional extra that covers you for unexpected situations such as boiler breakdown or leaks from a burst pipe. It usually offers homeowners access to a 24-hour emergency helpline. If emergency assistance is required from a tradesperson then 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 while contents insurance protects the things in it, such as your TV, washing machine, jewellery and family heirlooms. They can be bought separately or combined in one policy.

Will building insurance cover subsidence?

Most building 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 around £1,000 excess.

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 will insist you have buildings cover in place. Even if you own your property outright, buildings insurance is still a no-brainer. Structural repairs to your home can be pricey, especially if any damage caused requires a re-build. It can give 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