8 min read

Ultimate guide to home insurance

Hannah Salih
24 October 2019

They say a person’s home is their castle, and what’s a castle without a strong defence? It may not be quite as fun as a moat, but getting your home insurance sorted is the next best defence.

Home insurance gives you the peace of mind of knowing that your home is covered if the unexpected happens. But it can be complicated working out what’s what, which is why we’ve written this simple guide. There are no endless pages of jargon here, just the 6 most important things to know about home insurance.

Once you’ve read up, head to your ClearScore offers page to get your personalised quote with just one click.

1. Home insurance is a generic term covering both buildings and contents insurance

Buildings insurance covers damage to the structure of your home. It’s what will, quite literally, keep a roof over your head. Buildings insurance covers all the permanent fixtures of your house, including the:

  • Roof
  • Floors
  • Windows and doors
  • Ceilings
  • Fitted kitchens, bathrooms, and in-built cupboards

Some policies cover garages and sheds, and most policies also cover temporary accommodation if you need to move out.

The majority of policies provide coverage for the full cost of rebuilding your home in the event of vandalism, fire, flooding, natural disaster, subsidence, falling trees, etc. It’s important to check what situations are covered and what exceptions there are because it can vary.

Contents insurance is for all the stuff inside your house. It covers anything you might take with you if you moved, should it be stolen, damaged or destroyed. This includes:

  • Furniture
  • Electronics
  • Clothes and jewellery
  • Children’s toys
  • Kitchenware
  • Your collection of special edition trainers/wine/antiques

Get your one-click home insurance quote with ClearScore.

2. Not everyone needs both buildings and contents insurance

Buildings insurance only applies to homeowners. If you’re renting or a leaseholder, you won’t need to worry about this, as it’s the landlord's responsibility. Pretty much all mortgage providers require you to have buildings insurance. Even if you don’t have a mortgage, it’s worth bearing in mind just how costly these kinds of repairs are.

Contents insurance is a good idea even if you don’t think you own any particularly valuable items. The average home’s contents is worth an astonishing £35,000, which gives you an idea of how costly it could be to repair or replace everything at once.

3. The cost and amount of coverage depends on your home and what you own

To work out how much coverage you’ll need - and what your premium is - you usually have to provide the insurance company with a lot of detailed information about your home.

The most straightforward buildings insurance is calculated based on the number of bedrooms in your house. This type of insurance (‘bedroom rated’) protects you from under-insuring as it automatically provides high cover.

The other type (‘sum insured’) is based on precisely calculating how much it would cost to rebuild your home. This can be complicated to figure out correctly but sometimes works out cheaper.

Contents insurance policies are based either on the cost of replacing your possessions with a brand-new product of equivalent value, or accounting for wear and tear. Let’s say you’re making claim for your old TV. With a ‘new for old’ policy your insurer will pay for a brand-new replacement of the same value as your old TV, even if it was several years old. These policies are usually more expensive, but on the bright side, you won’t end up in a situation where you get £150 for a sofa that originally cost you £400, after general wear and tear has been accounted for.

4. Standard policies have some exclusions so you might need extra cover for:

Accidental damage

Picture this: you’re hanging up a framed family portrait of you and your dog, but as you hammer in the nail you get distracted by some drama in Come Dine With Me and instead you hammer a hole in the wall. Would you be covered? This is an example of ‘accidental damage’: any unexpected, one-off action that causes damage. These types of events are often not included in your standard policies and usually have to be included as an add-on.

Personal possessions

Like your mobile phone or wallet (things you take out of the house). These aren’t always covered in standard contents insurance policies so it’s worth checking before you buy a policy.

Valuable items

Always check the ‘single article limit’. This is the most an insurer will pay out for any one item. If you have anything worth more than this you need to tell the insurance company.

5. How to save money while getting the right insurance policy for you

  • Combine buildings and contents insurance; getting them from the same provider could come with a discount.
  • Increase your excess. This is the amount you have to pay if you make a claim, so if you claim it’ll cost more but it’ll bring the premium down.
  • Build up your no-claims discount.
  • Consider installing a burglar alarm, fitting more secure locks, or joining a neighbourhood watch scheme. These decrease the chances of burglary and should bring policy prices down.
  • Don’t just opt for insurance from your bank or mortgage provider – shop around to find the best priced policy for you. You can compare a range of home insurance policies on ClearScore in seconds; just check your offers page.

6. The secrets to avoiding your claims being rejected

Up to 20% of home insurance claims get rejected,* which is the last thing you want if you’re needing to make a claim. There are two ways to avoid this.

The first is to take the time to ensure every single detail you enter when you take out the policy is correct. When you buy home insurance you’ll be asked about the brickwork, roof tiles, types of windows, locks etc. that you have. One inaccurate answer can often invalidate your policy when you make a claim (we know, it’s a pain).

The second is to opt for a policy that removes the stress and the risk for you. ClearScore now have a one-click home insurance quote that uses public data sources to pre-fill your application, minimising the risk of you answering a question incorrectly. It has been created by Legal & General Insurance, which has been renamed Fairmead Insurance, part of the Liverpool Victoria General Insurance Group.

How it works:

Step 1: Visit your ‘Insurance’ offers in ClearScore.

Step 2: Select what kind of insurance you’re looking for (buildings, contents or both).

Step 3: Click ‘Get a quote’, and that’s it! We’ll use all the information in your credit report and SmartQuote technology to build an accurate quote, without you having to fill out long forms or complicated questions. See, we said it was easy!

*Claim acceptance rates for combined home insurance reported by the Financial Conduct Authority for 31 UK and EAA insurers, year ending 31st August 2018.

by Hannah Salih

Hannah reads all the finance info on the web so you don't have to. She knows all there is to know about your finances but still spends all her money on brunch. 

ClearScore exists to make your finances simple.
We offer a free service where you can handle everything to do with credit in one place. In your ClearScore account, you can see your credit score and the full details of your credit report. Your credit cards, mortgages, mobile phone contracts, loans, overdrafts and utilities all on the record. Our goal is to make ClearScore as simple, calm and straightforward as possible. Money is stressful enough.