Your essential guide to home insurance

Whether you own your property or you’re renting, the chances are you’ll need some form of home insurance. After all, no matter how careful you are, it’s impossible to eliminate the risk of problems like fire, theft and flooding affecting your abode. To help ensure you know your stuff when it comes to this form of financial protection, take a look at this brief guide.

There are three main types of cover

Firstly, it’s important to understand that while people often refer to ‘home insurance’ in a generic sense, in fact there are three different types of cover. Buildings insurance protects the physical structure of your property, including its walls, roof and windows. These policies also extend to permanent fixtures and fittings, like kitchen units, baths and toilets. Bear in mind that if you are taking out a mortgage to buy a property, your lender may require you to take out buildings insurance. Meanwhile, contents insurance protects the possessions you keep in your home, such as your electronics and clothes. The third type of policy is combined buildings and contents cover.

It pays to shop around

Regardless of the type of cover you’re looking for, it’s important that you shop around to get a good deal. These policies can vary markedly in terms of price and value for money, so it’s always worth assessing your options. Simply renewing with the same provider year after year or going for the first deal you see could leave you paying much more than you need to for home protection. One of the most efficient ways to scour the market is to get a home insurance quote from a specialist broker. You simply enter your details and these companies will search the market on your behalf. You could also contact a number of different insurers yourself to compare offers.

Improving security can drive down costs

As well as shopping around, you can save money by making sure your home is fitted with suitable security measures. For example, fitting five-lever mortise deadlocks on external doors and installing burglar alarms could help you to access more competitive offers from cover providers. This is for the simple reason that they will see you as lower risk if you show you are taking the issue of security seriously.

You can increase your protection with add-ons

Never make assumptions about what is included in your policy. You may have to add certain features to your insurance in order to get the level of cover you want. For example, while limited accidental damage cover usually comes as standard, you’ll need to pay extra if you want more comprehensive protection for accidents that affect your property or possessions. You might also need to add a personal possessions extension to your policy if you want portable things like your mobile phone, handbag or briefcase to be protected outside your home.

It’s important to pay attention to the small print

On a related point, make sure you read the small print of your policy carefully. Pay particular attention to issues such as the number of consecutive days you can be away from your home for before you invalidate your insurance and whether certain high-value items are excluded from your policy. Understanding the finer details of this financial protection will help you to avoid nasty surprises further down the line.

Home insurance can seem like a complicated subject, but in fact as long as you get to grips with basic points like these, it’s relatively straightforward.

Simon OatesYour essential guide to home insurance

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