Home Insurance Comparison: 5 things you need to know

When you compare home insurance quotes, whether for building and contents insurance together in one policy or separately, it can become a little confusing and all-too-easy to make false comparisons.

The quotes you get from brokers and home insurance comparison sites may look attractive, but if you end up with the wrong deal for your needs and circumstances it could return to haunt you if you have to make a claim.

Here are five vital things to bear in mind when you’re looking for Home Insurance cover:

1. Decide what policy elements are vital to you

It’s important to know what you want your home cover policy to include before you get a number of quotes, otherwise each quote will potentially be for a different type of policy.

You need to decide how much cover you require: in other words, what are your possessions worth, both as a whole and individually, and what would it cost to re-build your property from scratch.

Additionally, you should ask yourself a number of questions, including:

Do you want to ensure you’re possessions are covered when you’re away from your property? Is cover for accidental damage vital (it might be, especially for those with children!)? Does your property have a history of subsidence or flooding? Do you have any very valuable items which you need to tell your insurer about? Does your home have any unusual features? What type of security does it have?

You should compile a list of your requirements and make sure you use the same information for each quote you get.

2. Compare like-with-like

Quotes provided by online comparison sights, in particular, can be somewhat misleading in that the list of policies you see may not have the same elements included within the cover.

Some might include accidental damage or away from home cover as standard, whereas not all do, for example.

3. Cover levels

Working out how much cover you need is of primary importance when gathering home insurance quotes, as it’s a major factor in deciding the cost.

For example, statistics show that many people underestimate the value of the contents of their homes by an average of anywhere between £15,000 and £20,000. They usually either underestimate, or forget to include, how much it would cost to replace big-ticket items such as sofas, carpets and white goods such as fridges and freezers.

Additionally, many under-insure the structure of their properties as they’ve failed to estimate correctly how much it would cost to re-build the home, including fitted kitchens and bathroom suites.

Many insurers now work on either how many bedrooms your property has, along with its age, or offer blanket cover of up to £500,000. However, it’s still your responsibility, and not the insurers, to check that the sum-insured would be sufficient if disaster struck.

4. Use an insurance broker

It costs you nothing to use a home insurance broker, but the pay-off is that you should get the right type of cover at possibly the same or even better price than you’d find by using an online comparison website.

A good broker can do the leg work for you and, importantly, help you to work out the scope and level of cover you need, check and explain the small print and ensure you’re given the right information about a quote.

They can also potentially access exclusive deals you won’t find elsewhere. Additionally, when it comes to making a claim, they should be able to provide advice and work through the process with you, even potentially dealing with loss adjustors on your behalf.

5. Always check the excess

When considering a number of quotes, some policies might appear to be essentially the same, so you would think the only decision you have to make is over price.

However, always check the small print to find out what the ‘excess’ you have to pay is.

The excess is the first part of any claim you have to pay before the insurer covers the rest (assuming it’s accepted the claim in full).

Nearly all policies have a standard excess, which might be fixed at anywhere between around £50 and £200. So if you put in a claim for a stolen iPad worth £250, for example, and the excess on your policy was £200, it probably wouldn’t be worth claiming for. You should be able to agree an excess which is higher, or possibly lower, than the standard amount when opening a policy.

The excess can also vary depending on the type of claim. If your home is prone to flooding or subsidence, for example, you might want to check the excess for that type of claim isn’t much higher in one policy than another. It’s well worth it, as the difference can be hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds.

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The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.