Buildings insurance

Buildings insurance covers the cost of the permanent structures in the home as well as the land you own. This can include not only the outside structure of the house itself but may also include permanent fixtures such as sinks, toilets, baths and fitted kitchens or boundary features such as walls or fences that surround your property. Buildings cover may also cover outbuildings such as garages or garden sheds, but as always check with the policy provider first to make sure you get the most appropriate coverage.

Your mortgage provider will normally insist on you taking out buildings insurance as until the mortgage is paid off in full your house is considered their investment too. Some mortgage providers may offer buildings insurance along with your mortgage itself, this may prove to be competitive or it may turn out to be rather over priced. Remember: you are not obliged to buy from them so consider their quote in comparison with those from traditional insurance providers to ensure you get the best deal possible on your buildings insurance.

What’s covered?

Buildings insurance usually covers a set list of eventualities, including damage from:

Fire Fire
Flood Floods
Vandalism Vandalism or riots
Earthquakes Earthquakes
Subsidence Subsidence
Impact by vehicles Impact by vehicles
Malicious Behaviour Falling objects from aircraft
Fire Malicious behaviour
Storms Storms
Falling trees or branches Falling trees or branches

Some policies may also cover factors such as frost damage to the pipes connecting your house to the mains supply, which are considered your responsibility, however this may be exempted from others so be sure to check. Factors such as subsidence may only be covered if they have been previously reported, this should be noted on any survey of the property although the post code of the property is often enough to inform insurance companies of any possible subsidence.

The cover provided for certain eventualities may depend on where your home is situated. An example of this is a policy for a building in a high risk area for flooding. It may cost more but failure to declare this risk to your provider may end up voiding your policy. Remember to give your potential provider all the appropriate information about your property to ensure you have adequate insurance, that you will actually be able to claim on should anything go wrong.

In addition to the above, policies may cover accidental damage to the permanent fixtures in your house. Examples of permanent fixtures are items of bathroom furniture or fitted kitchens. Accidental damage to glass in your doors and windows may also be covered although in the majority of policies this is included as an optional extra, see the additional options section for more information.

What’s not covered?

Certain types of damage may be exempted from your policy, one common example of this is damage caused to the property while performing DIY. Other examples include damage resulting from:

War War
Terrorism Terrorism
Radioactive contamination Radioactive contamination
Pressure waves from aircraft Pressure waves from aircraft
Pollution Pollution

Be sure to check with your policy provider exactly what eventualities are covered, and make sure that you are not in a high risk area for any uncovered situation before purchasing a policy. Some insurers may allow you to take out extra cover for these situations; this may be worthwhile in the long run so make sure to check out all of your options.

Getting a survey

It is vital to have a professional survey done before purchasing a house, not only to make you aware of any problems the previous owner may have conveniently forgotten to mention but also to allow for accurate buildings insurance cover. Factors such as subsidence may only be covered if you have had a fully comprehensive survey done, so be sure to check with your provider.

Excess

The excess value for a policy is the value you will have to contribute to the cost of each claim before the insurer pays out. This value may vary depending on the type of claim you make so be sure to check your policy when making a claim to see how much you are required to pay.

Additional Options

Like most other insurance policies, additional circumstances can be added onto your policy for an additional price. This may be worthwhile if you are at risk of a particular type of damage to your property not usually covered by your provider (although it may be a good plan to see if any other providers offer this as standard in one of their policies first). Factors that can be covered at an extra cost often include:

War

Accidental damage to items within the home. Although this may cause some overlap between your buildings insurance and your contents insurance (see our contents insurance section for more information). Make sure to check both policies to ensure you aren’t unnecessarily insuring the same thing twice at extra cost to you.

Terrorism

Public liability, this means that you are covered for legal expenses if someone injures themselves on your property or if somebody else’s property is damaged while they visit you. Specific levels of cover will differ between policies so as always be sure to read the small print carefully.

Radioactive contamination

Alternative accommodation may not be provided for by your policy, this can be especially useful as an added extra if, for example, rebuilding or renovations make it impossible for you or your family to continue living on your property.

No Claims Bonus

Like car insurance policies those covering buildings may also come with a "no claims" discount providing a cheaper policy if you have not previously claimed on your buildings insurance. Some companies may let you combine your no claims bonus for both building and contents insurance so be sure to check if this is an option if both of your policies are provided by the same insurance firm.

Tenant’s Liability Insurance

Most contents insurance policies will include tenant’s liability insurance but your landlord may insist that you have this kind of cover if you are renting a property. Tenant’s liability insurance covers the homeowner for damage to the structure of their property by a person who is renting it out.

If you are a landlord it may be worthwhile to check if this is covered under your buildings insurance policy. Be sure to advise your insurance provider that you will be renting your property out to a third party as this may affect the type of policy that you need to take out, or the price of your premiums. It is recommended that you have this kind of cover as damage to the structure of the building itself may end up costing more than the deposit given to you by the tenants.