How much home insurance do I need?

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What are the main things I need to insure?

Packaged Bank accountsDifferent policies contain different types of cover, with much of the difference being made up of ‘extras’.

From legal insurance to pet cover, these extras can be somewhat confusing, and you won’t necessarily even need them. But apart from such ‘nice to haves’, what are the main elements that you will almost certainly need? And what should you be looking out for so that you don’t under-insure yourself, or not be able to claim when you think you can? Most standard policies combine two main areas; one for your possessions, and one for the main building, outbuildings and outside areas. Here are the key things you should make sure your home insurance includes.

Buildings

  • Make sure all areas of your home are protected

The buildings element should not just protect the main building, but also any outbuildings and anything within the legal boundaries of your property such as gardens, garden walls and patios. The cover should be sufficient to ensure you would be able to afford to rebuild every part of your home, and not just the main building, if it were totally destroyed. Be warned that the cheapest policies might not include outbuildings such as garages, greenhouses and storage sheds.

  • Re-build costs and claim limits

These days, many standard policies have a flat rate, maximum claim limit of £500,000 for the buildings element, which is more than sufficient for most properties to be totally re-built from scratch. However, some insurers simply go by information you provide, such as the number of bedrooms (which gives an indication of size), and whether the property is terraced, detached, has grounds and outbuildings, and the type of material it’s constructed from and any unusual features. It’s up to you to check the maximum re-build claim limit would be sufficient, not the insurer. If you’re not sure (and most people won’t be; don’t just pluck a number out of the air), ask local builders, or get a surveyor round. The Association of British Insurers also provides a handy re-build calculator at http://abi.bcis.co.uk/calculator/calculator.aspx

  • Don’t forget your garden and outbuildings in your estimation

Don’t forget to include your garden and the things in it when estimating the cost of re-building your home. Garden walls, for example, can be extremely expensive to build, as can large sheds, garden offices and extensive patios and other stonework. Beware: Buildings cover isn’t related to your home’s market value! It isn’t there to compensate you for how much you could have sold the home for to someone else! So remember, it’s not the market value your cover’s for, but the cost of re-building it.

Contents

  • Make sure all your ‘contents’ are covered

As with buildings, it can be easy to forget certain elements when considering what constitutes ‘contents’ for insurance purposes; ‘contents’ doesn’t just cover the obvious things that you can carry around with you. It also includes fixtures and fittings such as carpets, curtain rails, bathroom cabinets and white goods such as fridges and washing machines, as well as large items of furniture.

  • Don’t forget the ‘contents’ of gardens and outbuildings

It can also be easy to forget you should tot up the value of those things kept permanently outside. These might include garden furniture, sculptures and expensive pots and potted plants. You should also include items kept in outbuildings, such as sheds and garages, in your thinking; from bicycles, canoes and boats, to lawn mowers, wheelbarrows, forks and other gardening equipment. And most policies will stipulate that some items, such as bicycles and lawn mowers, are kept locked away when not being used; otherwise you won’t be able to claim for them if stolen.

  • Valuing your contents

It’s very important to get the amount of contents cover you need right. Get it wrong and you could be under-insuring yourself and face claim problems associated with an insurer not being given accurate information, potentially even invalidating your cover. Work methodically through your home room by room (remembering that it’s the new replacement cost of an item, not its second hand value, that you should be estimating), and include the types of areas and items which people often forget, as mentioned above. If you do, it shouldn’t be too difficult to come to a fairly accurate figure.

  • Valuables and special items

Anything you own that you know is, or could be, particularly valuable might need specifying to an insurer. Even if you don’t think it’s particularly valuable, if it’s extremely delicate (fine glassware or china) or very attractive to burglars (such as antiques or jewellery) you may need to specify it so the insurer can take it into account when working out your premiums.

  • Claim limits

Once you have an idea of how much cover you need for your possessions, double check this against the total claim limit of your policy, or any policy you’re thinking of taking out. Maximum claim limits on policies vary, but a typical figure on for a standard cover deal would be in the region of £30,000 to £40,000. Also look at single item claim limits and check them against any of the more valuable items you own. A typical maximum single item claim limit would be in the region of £2,500. A note on outbuildings and gardens: As discussed above, you shouldn’t forget to include items kept in outbuildings and gardens when calculating your contents cover needs. And if you want full cover for these items, you should also double check the terms of a policy. Some policies have lower claim limits for items kept outside than for your other possessions. Indeed, some of the cheaper policies might not cover items in gardens and outbuildings at all, so be warned.

  • Beware: Matching sets

If you have particularly valuable item sets, which would be worth a great deal less if one item from the set were missing, you may need specialist cover. In the event that one part of the set were lost, and it was essentially irreplaceable (think antiques in particular, or furniture, bathroom suites, kitchens and jewellery), you’d only get the monetary value of that one particular item returned to you, not for the loss in value to the whole set. Some insurers can offer matching set cover as an ‘add on’, but you may need to buy it from a specialist provider.

Policy Expert 

If your home is your haven, you’ll want it to have the best protection. Compare quotes from our range of handpicked insurers and tailor a policy to suit you. For more information speak to one of our experts on 0203 014 9300 or email ask@policyexpert.co.uk

 

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