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What are the different types of home insurance?

A standard combined buildings and contents policy should cover your home’s structure and your belongings against fire, flood damage, and theft.

If your house isn’t standard – for example, it has a thatched roof or it’s a listed building - there’s a type of home insurance policy for that as well. 

Similarly, if you’re a landlord, a tenant, or a student you’ll be able to find the insurance you need to keep things covered. 

A row of mid-sized homes in the UK

Buildings insurance

Buildings insurance covers the structure of your home as well as any permanent fixtures like your roof, your bathroom suite, and kitchen units.

This type of home insurance usually extends to outdoor buildings. So garages, sheds, and greenhouses should be covered. Fences, walls, and gates probably won’t be covered in this type of policy.

Although you don’t have to have buildings insurance, your mortgage lender may insist that you do. You can take it out on its own or as part of a combined buildings and contents insurance policy.

If you’re going to get buildings insurance it’s a good idea to take it out as soon as you exchange contracts. That way, you’re covered if something happens to the building before you move in.

To get a buildings insurance quote you’ll need to work out how much it’ll cost to rebuild your home. This can be tricky as this cost will be different to the market value of your home.

Don’t forget to tell your insurer if you’ve had building work done, such as a new kitchen, as your newly extended home will now cost more to rebuild. 

 

Contents insurance

You’d probably be surprised by how much it’d cost to replace everything in your house. Even if you’re a bit of a minimalist it’s likely to be in the tens of thousands of pounds.

You don’t have to have contents insurance. But it gives you the peace of mind of knowing that if something happens the insurance company should be able to help you pay for replacements.

Items covered by contents insurance range from carpets and curtains to clothes and shoes. You should also be covered against burglary, and if your stuff is damaged by fire or water. Accidental damage cover can also be added to your policy for an extra cost.

Trying to figure out how much everything you own is worth can be a bit of a bother. If you underestimate and underinsure, you may not get back the full value of what you’ve lost. Overinsure and you’ll pay higher premiums than you need to.

The easiest way to work out how much everything adds up to is to use our contents insurance calculator. Go room by room to make sure you’ve ticked off everything and don’t forget the garden.

 

Landlord insurance

Landlord’s responsibilities include maintaining the building you’re renting out.

A standard buildings insurance policy usually won’t cut it for landlords, because someone other than you lives in the building. You’ll need something specifically designed for landlords.

Landlords insurance can also cover you for things like loss of rent, alternative accommodation, and public liability

 

Tenants’ insurance

 If you’re renting, you can focus entirely on protecting your stuff - saving you looking through lots of home insurance policy types.  This is because it’s your landlord’s responsibility to take care of your buildings insurance. 

You could look into tenants insurance. This should cover your belongings, it might also cover items provided by the landlord, such as carpets and curtains.

 

Students insurance

While some contents policies insure your stuff when you’re temporarily away from the family home at university, not all do.

Getting your own insurance will mean you can be sure your things are covered. Student insurance is tailored for the sort of things you’re likely to have at university such as laptops, phones, and bikes. 

 

Listed buildings insurance

If you’re lucky enough to live in a house that holds a special place in the nation’s heart, then chances are it’ll be listed. Whether that listing is Grade I, Grade II*, or Grade II will depend on its historic importance and cultural significance.

As there’s a certain prestige with these kinds of buildings, there are restrictions that can make repairing them more expensive.

Living in a listed building doesn’t mean that you can’t make any changes – it’s just more difficult and time-consuming to do so. There are specific types of insurance coverage for homes which are listed.

A listed buildings insurance policy should take this into account, so you’re better able to get the right level of cover. 

 

High-value home insurance

High-value home insurance is also known as high-net-worth home insurance.

Like standard policies, cover is split into two types – buildings and contents.

As a general rule, high-value buildings are properties that would cost more than £500,000 to rebuild. This figure may vary depending on the insurer, though.

High-value contents are things like works of fine art, certain antiques, and jewellery.

Standard contents policies usually have a single-item value limit, so if a valuable painting is stolen you might not be able to claim for the full amount.

A high-value home insurance policy makes room for this added value so you have that extra layer of protection. 

 

Non-standard construction

So you have an interesting house. 

Maybe you’ve built it yourself from scratch, or you’ve used timber frames and a thatched roof to give it that rustic feel.

You might have even built the walls out of wattle and daub, medieval style.

Though this adds an extra touch of class and character to your home, many of the big-name insurers may shy away from covering this kind of house because it’s too risky.

Timber frame or a thatched roof? Greater risk of catching fire.

That self-build house that you’re so proud of? To an insurer, that might be an increased risk of collapsing or needing substantial repair.

Luckily many insurers offer different types of home insurance policies. You may have better luck with specialist insurers that deal specifically with non-standard houses. 

 

Holiday home insurance

Holiday homes aren’t normally covered in the same way as your main house as they’re often left empty for long periods, which means you might need separate holiday home insurance

Insurers usually consider 30 days to be the most you can be away from home and still be covered. Empty homes mean an added risk of burglary.

If you’re looking to get cover for a holiday home, make sure you’re open about the fact it’s not your main house. Otherwise any future claims you make might be void.

If you sometimes rent your second home out to other people, there are other things to think of as well, such as public liability insurance.

You may also need Airbnb insurance.  

 

Unoccupied home insurance

If you need to insure an empty property, say you inherited a house, there’s insurance for this as well.

Unoccupied home insurance, also known as empty home insurance, will cover an empty property for longer than general home insurance.

Home insurers generally don’t like properties to be empty for more than 30 days at a time due to the increased burglary risk.

Empty home insurance should cover you against things like vandalism, fire damage and flood damage.

You can also pick how long you want the cover to last for. Policies can range from two months to a year.

 

What type of home insurance do I need? 

It’s hard to know what to consider when you’re buying home insurance. It’s confusing trying to decide what type of home insurance policy is right for your property or your belongings. 

But there are hundreds of policies on the market to cover the most basic to the most extravagant homes.

First of all, make sure you have enough cover, without being over-insured, and that your policy is right for your belongings and property. 

The last thing you want is to pay for a policy you can’t claim on. If you’re unsure, contact your insurer or a potential new insurer. They should be able to tell you if a new policy gives you the right kind of protection. If not, you’re free to buy a policy from another insurer. 

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