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How much house insurance do I need?

We understand how important it is to protect the things you've worked hard for. House insurance can help.

What is house insurance for?

House insurance can protect you financially by paying for replacements or repairs if something happens to your home or belongings - if they're damaged in a fire or a flood, for example, or if your things are stolen.

Whether you rent or own your home, you will need home insurance if you want to have this protection.

If you rent

You probably only need contents insurance, as the buildings insurance is likely to be the responsibility of your landlord.

If you own your own home

You will need both buildings and contents insurance. Most mortgages require you to have buildings insurance. You can buy your buildings and contents insurance together, or separately.

What does buildings insurance cover?

Buildings insurance covers the fabric of the building - things like the roof, walls and drains. It also covers permanent fixtures and fittings - things you wouldn't be able to take with you if you moved - such as kitchens, wardrobes and baths.

Buildings insurance can cover things outside your home, such as garden landscaping, outbuildings and driveways, but you will need to check the policy to be sure. If it doesn't, you can add extra cover.

What buildings insurance doesn't cover?

Buildings insurance doesn't cover most damage to your home that happens gradually, such as weathering. It's up to you to keep your home in good condition. It also doesn't cover legal expenses for property-related disputes, but you can usually add on legal cover.

What does contents insurance cover?

Contents insurance covers items in your home that you'd take with you if you moved, such as furniture, ornaments, white goods and electrical equipment. Carpets and curtains are also included under contents insurance, and garden equipment is often covered, but again, it's wise to check.

You can get additions to your policy to cover items you take outside your home temporarily, such as laptops, jewellery and mobile phones.

What doesn't contents insurance cover?

Contents insurance doesn't cover the effects of wear and tear. Accidental damage may also not be covered as standard and you may need to add it on to your policy.

How do I work out how much home insurance I need?

In the case of buildings insurance, you will need enough to cover the cost of rebuilding your home. This isn't the same as the market value - it's usually less. To get a rebuild cost, you can use the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) calculator.

To work out how much contents insurance you need, look at every room and calculate what the price of replacing the things in there with new ones would be. Many websites offer contents insurance calculators to help you do this. Don't forget to take into account things that aren't on view, such as clothes.

You also need to check the highest single item cover offered by your insurance policy. If you have a very valuable item, such as a piece of jewellery or a painting, it might not be enough and you may have to add extra cover.

It's really important that you don't underestimate the rebuild costs of your home or how much your home contents are worth. If you are underinsured - in other words, if your contents are insured for less than they are worth - and you make a claim, you risk having your pay-out reduced proportionately. So, for example, if you have cover for £10,000 but your contents are worth £20,000 and you make a £3,000 claim, you may only get £1,500.

Did you know...? The Insurance Office for Houses, founded in 1681, was the first successful fire insurance scheme.
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