Basics

For most people a house is the single most expensive and important thing they will ever buy. The cost of making repairs if it should ever be damaged or rebuilding in the event of a natural disaster would be far too high for most of us to pay. For this reason it is vital that you buy insurance to cover the cost of restoring your property to its original state no matter what the eventuality.

Not only does our home provide us with somewhere permanent to live, and put a roof over our heads it also contains most, if not all of our worldly possessions.

Even if you do not own the property you live in, or even the furniture within it, it is still important to have insurance to cover the cost of your possessions. In the event of a fire or a flood it is not only the costly things you need to replace, like TVs, stereos or computers, but also the every day items such as clothing and kitchen wear that you may not consider when first thinking about insurance.

There are many different types of insurance for the home, from buildings cover to insuring a family heirloom and at first they may seem confusing and difficult to dissect. This guide aims to help explain the basics of insuring all elements of your home – whether you are a tenant or a homeowner – as well as outlining some special circumstances that may affect your policy for example: sharing a house as a student or living in a listed building.

Make sure you browse through our important info section for advice on how to keep your insurance policy valid and your home in good condition. As well as this we’ve included some helpful advice to help avoid having to claim on any insurance policy you choose, in the form of a section on home security and home safety. There you can find tips on keeping your property secure, including deterring potential intruders as well as ways to avoid the most common hazard to your home and possessions: fire.

We’ve also compiled a list of UK policy providers that you can easily access from the internet to help start you on your search as well as a glossary of terms to help decode some of the insurance jargon you may come across as you search for a policy.

Buildings insurance or contents insurance?

There are two main types of home insurance: those policies which cover the actual building you live in or those policies that cover the contents of your property. If you are a tenant living in rented accommodation then buildings insurance is usually not your responsibility, it is down to the actual owner of your building however, as with everything when renting a property, be sure to check the terms of your lease to see exactly what you are required to pay for. Buildings insurance will be dependent on the stability of the land your property is on and on the structure of the house itself. Policy pricing and the amount that may be paid out both depend on specific features of the property – such as age, location and building materials so be sure to be fully armed with all the appropriate information when applying for a policy.

Both tenants and homeowners should have contents insurance. Homeowners may find that the company providing buildings insurance will offer a deal on contents insurance if you purchase both policies from them. Some insurers may even offer discounts on things like motor or travel insurance when you take out buildings insurance with them, so be sure to keep an eye out for any deals offered by your provider. Tenants should be aware that their landlord’s insurance probably won’t cover their possessions within the house and so should be sure to cover everything not just items of value. Remember policies have differing definitions of “contents” and while some may exclude items such as garden equipment or bicycles some may even cover items from within the home that are lost while abroad so be sure to check the fine print.

Remember, there isn’t a time limit so shop around to find the best deal. Also be sure to let any potential insurers know all the details of your property – even if the policy may end up costing more. For example, not informing your insurer that you live in an area with a high flood risk may actually invalidate your policy so that in the event of flood damage to your house or property you may find yourself unable to claim at all.

More in-depth information for homeowners such as advice for covering different types of buildings or on getting a survey can be found in our buildings insurance section. Advice for both homeowners and tenants for insuring their home’s contents from calculating the value of items in your home to liability insurance against damage of others’ property can be found in our contents insurance section.

Additional Emergency Cover

On top of your contents and building insurance you can purchase a range of policies to cover emergencies so you have someone to call if something unexpected happens.

The AA offer additional cover called Home Emergency Response to cover repairs and call out fees for unexpected repairs. You can buy Home Emergency Response, Boiler Cover or Central Heating Cover to cover you for:

  • Emergency plumbing,
  • Water supply pipe damage,
  • Roof damage,
  • Broken windows,
  • Lost keys and lock damage,
  • Removal of wasp and hornet nests,
  • Internal gas and electrical failure,
  • Gas boiler and heating control damage,
  • Annual boiler service,
  • Gas boiler and central heating damage,
  • Radiator damage,
  • Money towards a new boiler if yours is less than 7 years old and is irreparable.

As an AA member you can get a discount on Home Emergency Response by visiting www.theaa.com.