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Building insurance is vital to protect your home.
You want to be sure you're protected if a burst pipe wrecks the house, or a storm blows the tiles off the roof, or a wall starts to crack.
But buildings insurance can be expensive. Are you tempted to cut corners?
Don't worry. We've found the right way for you to keep your buildings insurance down by finding the right quotes - as well as telling you everything you need to know about home insurance and how to choose it.
Table of Contents
What are the best building insurance quotes?
You'll want to shop around for cover - but don't just go for the cheapest policy.
When you compare building insurance, you also need to look at what cover you get. These are our recommendations for good building insurance policies, depending on your needs. All of them include cover for alternative accommodation if your home is rendered uninhabitable, and all include cover for your drains, pipes and cables.
|Insurer||Premium||Home emergency cover||Apply|
|£67.20||+£44.95||Go to agency|
|£79.83||+£39.89||Go to agency|
|£83.23||+£43.95||Go to agency|
|£85.21||+£50||Go to agency|
|£86.09||+£73.25||Go to agency|
|£91.63||+£34.99||Go to agency|
|Yes||Go to agency|
|£93.76||+£40.95||Go to agency|
|£95.43||+£27.99||Go to agency|
|£95.74||+£19.99||Go to agency|
|£102.46||+£60||Go to agency|
|£103.17||+£34.99||Go to agency|
|£104.71||+£44.99||Go to agency|
Quotes for a 2 bedroom bungalow in Eastern England, with £500 voluntary excess and 6 years' no claims discount
Areas that you will want to check in more detail once you are comparing quotes are:
- fees charged for any changes to the policy,
- whether replacement locks and keys are covered,
- any exclusions, such as damage by vermin.
What does building insurance cover?
Buildings insurance covers the structure of your home against damage. That damage might be caused by flood, fire, storm, subsidence, vandalism, burst or leaky pipes, or even by accident.
The key to buildings insurance is that it covers anything you can't move. Fitted kitchens, the bathroom suite, and your central heating system are covered - but furniture won't be, for instance. (That's covered by contents insurance, instead, which will also cover your personal possessions.)
Building insurance cover usually includes outbuildings, swimming pools, and gardens. In addition to paying for repairs, it may pay out for accommodation if your home becomes uninhabitable as a result of the damage, for instance if the roof has blown off your house or the ground floor is under two feet of water.
What isn’t covered by buildings insurance?
Building insurance doesn't cover your movable possessions, such as furniture and decorative items.
The distinction can be tricky to make. A built-in fridge will usually be covered, but if you have a free-standing fridge, it won't be.
Buildings insurance won't cover a house that has been left unoccupied for more than a specified time, usually 30 days (so your summer holiday won't invalidate your insurance).
However some insurers specify that if you go away in winter, you either leave the heating on to a given (low) temperature, or turn off the water at the mains and drain your water and central heating system. That may be the case even if you're only away for a long weekend.
And though building insurance cover includes gardens, it usually excludes Japanese knotweed. If you get that evil plant growing in your back yard, you're on your own.
Who is building insurance for?
Buildings insurance is intended for home owners and for landlords (though landlords can get special insurance which may suit their needs better).
- If you have a mortgage and own a house, you'll need building insurance. If you own your home outright, it's still worth having - if your house was destroyed by fire, you'd be able to rebuild it.
- On the other hand if you're a tenant, you don't own the property so it's your landlord who should put the relevant buildings insurance in place.
- If you own a flat, you'll find that your buildings insurance is provided by the freeholder as part of the service charge you pay, or is arranged at the level of common hold for the building as a whole. That's because it covers the whole structure of the building, so it needs to be put in place for the buildings as a whole.
How much is building insurance?
There's no simple answer to the question "What does buildings insurance cost?" But an average buildings insurance policy costs around £110-120 a year.
However, it depends on a number of factors including the size of the property being insured, the location and the type of construction. So you'll need to get a buildings insurance quote to be sure exactly what you'll pay for your own home.
Your buildings insurance can be combined with home contents insurance; usually the two combined are more economical than buying the policies separately, so buying buildings and contents insurance together is a smart move.
How much should I insure my building for?
You need to insure the rebuild value of your home - how much it would cost to rebuild it completely from the ground up.
Imagine if your home was completely destroyed, for instance by a gas explosion or fire. You'd need to rebuild the walls and roof, buy all the doors, windows, do the plastering, and have the electrician completely rewire, as well as getting a new central heating system, and new bathroom and kitchen. Then you'd need to decorate.
Unless you're a builder, you probably haven't got a clue what that all costs. You could hire a chartered surveyor to help you calculate the rebuild cost, but that would be expensive. Some insurers will estimate the rebuild cost for you.
The best way to assess what you need to insure your house for is to use a rebuild cost calculator. Don't under-insure, or your payout will be cut - even if it's only for a small percentage of the total insured.
What is the average rebuild cost of a house?
Remember that the rebuild value is usually less than the price of your house.
House prices include the value of the land on which the house sits. According to data from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) the average rebuild cost is £114,000 - and the average house is worth over £100,000 more than its rebuild cost. The formula varies a bit depending on where your house is located - in London, Edinburgh, Brighton and Bristol you'll find rebuild cost is an even smaller percentage of the value of your home. So be sure that you don't accidentally over-insure - you won't get a better payout and you'll be paying more for your premiums.
In just a few cases, rebuild costs are higher than you'd expect. If you have a historic or listed property, or one with an unusual construction, you may find this is the case and that could also mean you'll need specialist insurance.
How can I reduce the cost of my home buildings insurance?
The best way to reduce the cost of your building insurance is of course to shop around. If you compare building insurance you'll find quotes can vary considerably. If you're coming up to renewal, don't auto-renew - get several building insurance quotes and see if you can beat the price your existing insurer is offering you.
There are some other ways you can reduce the cost, too.
- Improve your home security. Burglar alarms, better door and window locks, a smoke alarm, and Neighbourhood Watch membership can all help reduce the cost of your buildings insurance.
- Pay annually. Most insurers charge you extra if you pay monthly, because effectively they're lending you the money for your premiums.
- Increase your excess. This is the amount you'll have to pay up yourself in the event of any claim before your insurer pays out. By agreeing a higher voluntary excess, you'll be able to get a lower premium.
- Build up your no claims bonus. Most insurers give a discount for every year of claim-free insurance up to 9 years in total.
Do I need building insurance if I have a mortgage?
If you have a mortgage, your lender will probably require you to have buildings insurance in place.
There's a very good reason why they need you to insure the house. Your house provides security for your loan. In other words, if you couldn't keep up your payments for any reason, the lender knows it can repossess the house and sell it to cover the amount outstanding. (That's why mortgage interest rates are low compared to other types of loan.)
Of course, if your house was destroyed, that security would have disappeared. That's why your lender needs to be sure that you're insured.
What extras can I add to my building insurance cover?
Various extras can be added to your buildings insurance to increase your protection. These include:
- Legal cover - this will cover you if, for instance, someone making a delivery slips on your path and sues you for damages, claiming you were negligent in allowing your path to become slippery. It can also cover you for disputes against tradesmen, for contract disputes, and even if you need to claim against your employer.
- Home emergency cover. This protects you if your boiler, heating system, wiring or plumbing breaks down and needs to be set right. The definition of 'emergency' is that either you can't live in the property unless it's set right (eg a blocked toilet, broken boiler, or no electrical supply), or that the damage risks your home becoming unsafe or insecure (eg roof damage or broken windows).
- Accidental damage cover. This covers accidents that you cause yourself, or that are caused by household pets.