When you’re looking around to compare home insurance deals, it’s fairly easy to not see the wood for the trees; there are so many different policies on offer that you can possibly end up with the wrong deal at the wrong price.
So here’s how to compare home cover; from preparing for your search to the key things you should focus on to find the right policy.
Remember, if you don’t correctly compare deals, you could end up sorely disappointed when a claim is rejected because the insurance you have isn’t what you thought it was.
Firstly, decide what you want
It’s crucial before you start to compare home insurance quotes that you know what it is that you want from your policy.
Most insurance is about financially covering yourself for the risk that something could go wrong. What people want and need from their home insurance largely depends on their circumstances; the cover you get should reflect the financial risks which, to a certain degree, those circumstances create.
You need to ask yourself a number of questions about the property you live in, possessions and personal circumstances. Questions such as:
- How much cover do you need for your property and possessions (imagine they were totally destroyed)?
- What level of excess are you willing to pay? Could it be more than the standard on offer?
- Do you want cover for accidental damage included (especially if you have children!)?
- Do you have any highly valuable items that might need extra cover as they could exceed single item claim limits?
- Do you want cover for your possessions when you’re away from home?
- What about the type of property you have? Has it suffered from any particular problems in the past such as subsidence?
- Do you live on a flood plain?
It’s a good idea to read a guide to home insurance, such as the one we have here at Policy Expert, to help you with deciding what you need from your home insurance.
It’s also a good idea to make a list of your requirements to ensure each quote you get is for the same, or at least very similar, type of cover.
Once you’ve decided on what you need, you’re ready to compare home cover deals.
Make sure you compare the same types of policy
It’s worth emphasising how important it is to compare like-for-like policies, otherwise the quotes you get from insurers and insurance brokers won’t stand up to comparison.
Check that the maximum claim limits you set for the buildings and contents are the same, or at least cover your needs if there’s a standard default level which is higher than you require.
Also, if you require certain ‘add-ons’ such as cover for home emergencies and accidental damage, again, make sure each quote includes these.
Likewise, you might decide ‘away from home’ cover is vital, so include that too.
Comparing levels of excess
Most policies have a fixed level of what’s called the ‘excess’ as standard, but you’re usually given the option to increase this, or even, on occasion, decrease it if you think it’s too high.
The excess is the first part of most claims which you, the insured, have to pay before the insurer steps in to cover the rest.
A standard fixed excess is often in the region of £150 to £250, but you might be happy to have a much higher sum such as £500. Opting for a higher level of excess would ordinarily lead to cheaper cover as you’re less of a financial ‘risk’ to an insurer.
Be aware that the excess can vary depending on the type of claim, and different policies and providers have different rules regarding this. Subsidence claims notoriously have much higher excess attached to them, for example, often running at £1,000 or more.
Policies may appear initially to be quite similar but, as with many financial products, the devil is in the detail. This is particularly the case when it comes to exclusions.
Some cheaper policies may exclude claims for easily stolen or breakable items such as bicycles, laptops and fine glassware. Others may allow for claims to made if an incident has occurred in the main part of the home, but not in the garden.
There are also commonly exclusion differences when it comes to pet damage, home central heating systems, flooding and electronic gadgets.
Again, you need to check the small print carefully to ensure you compare home insurance with exclusions that are acceptable to you.
No claims discount
If you haven’t made a claim on your home cover for many years, you can usually get a reduction in the cost of your premiums.
Some home cover providers take into account more years of no claims than others. A maximum of 5 years is not uncommon, but a number of insurers take into account 6 or more.
It’s very much worth checking whether the quotes you’re comparing include a no claims discount or not, as this can reduce the cost of cover by potentially hundreds of pounds a year.
Use an insurance broker, as well as online comparison sites
While you should definitely compare quotes using online comparison sites, the results can, on occasion, be more than a little erratic.
Often, they won’t be tailored enough to your specific needs and some of the information you’ve inputted might not have been included when the quote results come back.
Going through an insurance broker means that you’re more likely to get accurate, fair comparisons which reflect your requirements; you’ll be able to go through all the information and details with someone at the other end of a phone or email exchange. You should also check customer reviews as this is a good indication of service levels once you’re an actual customer. A good example can be seen here for Policy Expert on Reviews.io.
Brokers may also have access to deals which aren’t available through comparison sites: Insurers recognise that often the customers they get through brokers are of a higher quality, and in return provide exclusive prices and policies through brokers to help incentivise consumers to use them.