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How to compare home insurance policies

When it comes to choosing home cover, value for money isn’t just about price. Here are 8 things to consider when comparing home insurance policies.

1. What does the insurance policy include?

It may sound obvious, but you need to read an insurance policy carefully. The level and type of cover you have is just as important as the price. 

For example, you need to choose a buildings insurance policy that contains enough cover to rebuild your home from scratch. This is known as the ‘sum insured’. 

Other important features to look out for, include:

  • flexibility to tailor the cover to your needs
  • alternative accommodation if damage means you can’t live in your home
  • ‘new for old’ cover, so you’ll get a new replacement if something old is lost or damaged

If you take out contents insurance, it's important you don't underestimate how much your belongings are worth. Make sure you have the right cover for your needs.

Explore: How much home insurance do you need?

2. What are the exclusions?

Exclusions are things you’re not insured for. 

For example, insurers typically do not cover for damage caused by pets. So, if you have a puppy who likes to chew furniture, you may not be able to claim this on your insurance. 

3. What are the optional extras?

With some insurance policies, you can add extra cover that isn’t included in the standard policy. For example, products such as home emergency cover, or cover for items when you’re away from home, may be optional extras. 

4. Are you eligible?

Insurers make a few assumptions to speed up searches. 

It’s important to make sure you fit the eligibility criteria, as this can affect the extent of your cover and your ability to make a claim. 

For example, insurers may assume your property isn't a holiday home or used for business purposes. If it is, you’ll need to mention this when you apply.

Keep in mind – insurance policies may also restrict or remove your buildings cover if your property is empty for a period of time, and you fail to notify them. 

You’ll also need to maintain your property for your buildings insurance to be valid. 

5. What is the insurance excess?

If you need to make a claim, you may have to pay some money towards the overall cost. This is known as the insurance excess. It’s important to check how much the excess is. 

You may notice different excess amounts under one policy, such as £100 excess for accidental damage but a £1,000 excess for subsidence. 

This is because certain types of claims are likely to be expensive for the insurer. 

6. Is there a cancellation fee?

Some insurers will charge you if a policy is cancelled outside the cooling-off period. But if you’re not happy with your current provider, you don’t have to stay with them. 

If you switch to HSBC Home Insurance, for example, we may be able to refund the cancellation fee charged by your previous insurer. 

7. Is there a fee for making changes to a policy?

Hoping to add an expensive watch or an engagement ring to your contents insurance? 

Many insurance policies, including HSBC Home Insurance, allow you to adjust your cover to suit your needs, free of charge – but not all do. 

Some insurers charge an adjustment fee for any changes made before the policy term ends. 

8. Is there a fee for paying by Direct Debit?

It’s not always easy to pay for an insurance policy as an annual lump sum. Many people choose to pay monthly to break the cost down into manageable payments. Some insurers, however, will charge for this. 

If you want to pay monthly, you’ll need to factor in any additional charges when comparing different insurance policies.